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date: 19 September 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Biographical scholarship provides a means by which to understand the past. Disability biography writes disabled people into historical narratives and cultural discourses, acknowledging power, action, and consequence. Disability biography also analyzes the role of ableism in shaping relationships, systems of power, and societal ideals. When written with skilled storytelling, rigorous study, nuance, and insight, disability biography enriches analyses of people living in the past. Disability biography makes clear the multiple ways by which individuals and communities labor, make kinship, persevere, and both resist and create social change. When using a disability analysis, biographies of disabled people (particularly people famous for their disability, such as Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Helen Keller) reveal the relationality and historically embedded nature of disability. In an ableist world, such acts can be revolutionary.

Keywords: biography, primary source, historian, overcoming, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Anne Sullivan Macy, relationality, pain

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