The Society of American Archivists recently recognized the Ward M. Canaday Center for Special Collections for its outstanding efforts to promote its regional disability history archive.
The center received the Philip M. Hamer and Elizabeth Hamer Kegan Award for the exhibit and catalog titled “From Institutions to Independence: A History of People With Disabilities in Northwest Ohio.” The honor is given to individuals or institutions that have increased public awareness of archival documents.
Barbara Floyd, director of the Canaday Center, university archivist and professor of library administration, accepted the award last month at the joint annual meeting of the Society of American Archivists and the Council of State Archivists in Austin, Texas.
“The Canaday Center is proud to have been recognized by our national professional association for our work to document the history of people with disabilities in northwest Ohio,” Floyd said.
“For most of our country’s history, people with disabilities have been invisible, locked away in their own homes by families who felt shamed by them, or in custodial institutions,” she said. “It is important to all of us that disability history is finally being discovered, and we are happy that we can play a role in discovering that history and educating the rest of the community about it.”
In making its selection, the society’s award committee noted the exhibit and its catalog “sought to highlight a segment of society that has too often been omitted from the historical record. While the exhibit largely focused on institutions and groups from northwest Ohio, it sought to place the local experience within a national context to provide viewers with the larger picture of disability history.”
Floyd and Kim Brownlee, manuscripts librarian, assistant university archivist and assistant professor of library administration, worked with Canaday Center staff and student assistants about one year preparing archival materials and artifacts the center has collected since 2001 when the Disability Studies Program was established at the University.
In addition, Floyd and Brownlee organized accompanying public lectures that brought authors to campus last fall to talk about their books and the premiere of “My Black Bird Has Flown Away: The Life of Hugh Gregory Gallagher,” an original one-man production by playwright Carlton Spitzer, starring Broadway actor Jeremy Lawrence. The Canaday Center preserves the personal papers of disability scholar and activist Gallagher, who wrote the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968.
“From Institutions to Independence: A History of People With Disabilities in Northwest Ohio,” which opened last September, proved so popular it remained on display through spring semester.
Not only was the exhibit educational and popular, it was award-winning. The Canaday Center received the Ability Center of Greater Toledo’s 2008 Community Access Award in recognition of extraordinary efforts to raise awareness and/or improve the lives of persons living with disabilities and an Ohio Public Images Award from the Public Images Network for the promotion of positive awareness of persons with developmental disabilities.
And Floyd and Brownlee received the University’s Edith Rathbun Outreach and Engagement Excellence Award last spring. The annual award applauds exceptional community-engaged scholarship in research, teaching or professional service.
The virtual exhibit can be seen here. And the UT Urban Affairs Center Press is publishing a revised and expanded version of the catalog as a monograph, which is expected to be published in spring 2010.
“We hope that the exhibit’s success and popularity will encourage other individuals and organizations to add their records to the regional disability history archive,” Brownlee said.