Disability History Scholar to Discuss Woman Activist at Main Library in Downtown Toledo

March 21, 2022 | Events, News, UToday, Alumni, Arts and Letters
By Christine Billau

During Women’s History Month, a nationally acclaimed disability history scholar at The University of Toledo will lead a discussion about Dorothea Dix and her efforts on behalf of the mentally ill and prisoners.

The event is part of the 2021-22 speaker series presented by the Roger Ray Institute for the Humanities at the UToledo College of Arts and Letters in collaboration with the Toledo Lucas County Public Library.


Dr. Kim Nielsen, Distinguished University Professor and chair of disability studies, will present the free, public program titled “Dorothea Dix: A 19th Century Female Activist and Her Complex Legacies” from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 23, at the main branch of the Toledo Lucas County Public Library, 325 Michigan St.

“Dix was an asylum and prison reformer, and later the Civil War Superintendent of Union Army Nurses, who shaped U.S. psychiatric healthcare,” Nielsen said. “Her work prompted officials to fund a vast expansion of medicalized, racially differentiated insane asylums between 1830 and 1875.”

Nielsen wrote several books about Helen Keller and is the author of “A Disability History of the United States” and co-editor of the award-winning “Oxford Handbook of Disability History.” Her most recent book, “Money, Marriage and Madness: The Life of Anna Ott,” analyzes a mid-19th century female physician incarcerated for two decades at the Wisconsin State Hospital for the Insane.

This presentation about Dix is Nielsen’s first discussion of what she hopes will be her next book.

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