Logo and link to University of Massachusetts Amherst

Special Collections and University Archives : University Libraries

Collecting area: Disability Page 2 of 3
Kahn, Paul S.

Paul S. Kahn Papers

1964-2009
10 boxes 17 linear feet
Call no.: MS 786
Depiction of Paul Kahn
Paul Kahn

An artist, writer, and activist for the disabled, Paul S. Kahn was born on Nov. 6, 1945, into a second-generation family of Jewish immigrants in Auburndale, Mass. Early in life, Kahn rebelled against the perceived “powerlessness” of the neuromuscular disorder with which he was born, pursuing an artistic, academic, and activist life. While studying drawing, painting, and sculpture at Boston University and earning a MA in counseling at Northeastern (1982), Kahn became an activist in the independent living movement and a pioneer in advocating for personal care assistance. Living independently from 1979, he worked as staff therapist at the Beth Israel-Deaconess Medical Center, as leader of a support group for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and as a member of the Massachusetts Governor’s Advisory Commission on Disability Policy. In 1980, Kahn met Ruth Stern, who would become his frequent collaborator and wife of 21 years. As Kahn’s physical condition weakened after 1987 and he became dependent upon a ventilator, his creative focus shifted increasingly from art to writing and editing. The last two decades of his life were remarkably productive, resulting in over twenty plays and dozens of published essays and poems, and he was the long-time editor of the newsletter Disability Issues. Kahn died on Jan. 1, 2010.

Paul Kahn’s papers are a reflection of the intensely creative life of a committed activist. The collection centers on Kahn’s literary work, including manuscripts of his plays, essays, and poetry, but it includes numerous examples of his artwork and a number of home movies and tape recordings from his childhood.

Gift of Ruth Kahn, July 2013
Subjects
People with disabilities and the arts
People with disabilities--Civil rights
Types of material
Paintings (Visual works)
Karuth, Denise

Denise Karuth and Fred Pelka Papers

1981-2012
36 boxes 54 linear feet
Call no.: MS 833

Denise Karuth and Fred Pelka are activists and historians of the disability rights movement based in Massachusetts. Both are graduates of SUNY Buffalo, while Karuth holds a masters in rehabilitation counseling from Boston State College and a masters in divinity from the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge. Karuth came into activism through her church’s involvement in the civil rights movement and her own experience as a student dealing with blindness and multiple sclerosis at the State University of New York at Buffalo. After moving to Boston, her activism continued in efforts by the disability community to secure accessible and affordable mass transit in Massachusetts, and she has been involved with a broad spectrum of disability campaigns and organizations, serving as a peer counselor for people with disabilities, as Executive Director of Boston Self-Help Center, as a consultant on disability issues for the Human Genome Initiative, as a grant writer at the Stavros Center for Independent Living, and as Chair of the Governor’s Commission on Accessible Transportation under Gov. Michael Dukakis. She has also been an advocate for people who are homeless and was a principal founder of the First Church Shelter of the First Church in Cambridge. Karuth’s lifelong partner Fred Pelka, himself a person with disabilities, became involved in disability rights activism in 1983 while working at the Boston Center for Independent Living, and has made an impact as an editor and prolific author since. A 2004 Guggenheim Fellow, he has written three books on disability issues: The ABC-CLIO Companion to the Disability Rights Movement (1997), The Civil War Letters of Charles F. Johnson, Invalid Corps (2004), and What We Have Done: An Oral History of the Disability Rights Movement (2012). His fourth book, A Different Blaze, was published by Hedgerow Books in 2014, and is his first published poetry.

The Karuth and Pelka collection documents thirty years of social justice activism in Massachusetts centered on the movement for disability rights. Beginning in the1980s struggle for accessibility in transportation, the collection reflects the breadth of Karuth’s commitments and work on issues ranging from apartheid and US imperialism to homelessness and HIV/AIDS, and her work with organizations such as First Church in Cambridge, Amnesty International, Not Dead Yet, the Governor’s Council of Accessible Transportation, and the Boston Self Help Center. Pelka’s part of the collection contains extensive research and background material, notes, and drafts for each of his books, including lengthy transcripts of interviews with pioneers in disability rights.

Subjects
AIDS activists--Massachusetts
Boston Self-Help Center
First Church (Cambridge, Mass.)
Homelessness--Massachusetts
Local transit accessibility
Massachusetts. Governor's Commission of Accessible Transportation
People with disabilities--Civil rights
People with disabilities--Legal status, laws, etc.
Contributors
Pelka, Fred
Lapolice, Aubrey D.

Aubrey D. Lapolice Collection

1910-1981
1 box 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: PH 070
Depiction of 'Our first students, 1921'
'Our first students, 1921'

Born in Chicopee Falls, Mass., Aubrey D. Lapolice (1893-1981) was a maintenance superintendent at the Belchertown State School for a forty year period, from the time of its establishment through his retirement in 1961. A veteran of the First World War, he oversaw a campus of nearly 850 acres and a physical plant of nearly one hundred buildings and structures. He died in February 1981.

The Lapolice collection includes 35 images of the physical plant and construction projects at the Belchertown State School during its first two decades of operation and 21 images of the welcome home parade in Belchertown in 1946 for returning American troops.

Gift of Dani McGrath, Feb. 2016
Subjects
Belchertown State School--Photographs
Construction projects--Massachusetts--Belchertown--Photographs
Hampden Railroad--Photographs
Mentally disabled--Massachusetts--Belchertown
Parades--Massachusetts--Belchertown--Photographs
Psychiatric hospitals--Massachusetts--Belchertown--Photographs
World War, 1939-1945--Veterans
Types of material
Photographs
Liebergott, Harvey W.

Harvey W. Liebergott Collection

1974-1980
1 box 1.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 785

From the lstter days of the Lyndon Johnson administration through the early years of Ronald Reagan, Harvey Liebergott served in the US Bureau of Education for the Handicapped. As director of the Bureau’s Information and Recruitment program, he helped develop and disseminate information on the educational needs of disabled children through program such as the National Information Center for the Handicapped’s “Closer Look” films and a variety of print and media campaigns that advertised available services. Liebergott left Washington in the changing political environment of the Reagan era.

The Liebergott collection includes a sampling of audio and video productions from the early years of federal support for persons with disabilities, along with a small selection of correspondence and ephemera.

Gift of Harvey W. Liebergott, July 2013
Subjects
People with disabilities--Education
Contributors
United States. Bureau of Education for the Handicapped
Types of material
Motion pictures (Visual works)
Sound recordings
McVeigh, Kevin

Kevin McVeigh Papers

1974-2010
15 boxes 22.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 668

A lifelong activist for social and environmental justice, Kevin McVeigh was among the founders of two prominent antinuclear and environmental organizations in Northern California, the Pelican Alliance (1978) and Interhelp (1981). After relocating to Massachusetts, he continued in environmental activism, founding the Green River Center in Greenfield in 1987, but in response to the intense public health crisis, he gradually shifted his focus to become an advocate for persons with HIV/AIDS. As a founder of the AIDS Community Group of Franklin County (Mass.), he has coordinated AIDS services for Tapestry Health, a not-for-profit organization providing affordable health care to in Western Massachusetts.

The McVeigh Papers document a career as a committed antinuclear activist and advocate for persons with HIV/AIDS. The collection includes organizational materials from each of the groups McVeigh helped found: The Pelican Alliance, Interhelp, the Green River Center, the AIDS Community Group of Franklin County, and Tapestry Health, as well as correspondence, newspaper clippings, journals and magazines related to the issues concerning, notes from HIV/AIDS caregivers’ conferences, materials relating to men’s support groups, and other material related to environmental protection and anti-war activism. Finally, the collection includes audio files of an oral history (approximately two hours) conducted with McVeigh in July 2010, and a small collection of antinuclear books from small publishing houses.

Subjects
AIDS (Disease)
AIDS Community Group of Franklin County
AIDS activists--Massachusetts
Antinuclear movement--California
Green River Center (Greenfield, Mass.)
Interhelp
Pelican Alliance
Public health--Massachusetts
Tapestry Health
Contributors
McVeigh, Kevin
Types of material
Oral histories
Miller, Cynthia

Cynthia Miller Papers

1973-1995
6 boxes 2.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 869

Known in the psychiatric survivors’ movement as Kalisa, Cynthia Miller was a radical activist on behalf of the mentally ill. An ex-patient based in New York, she became a member of Project Release in the early 1970s, one of the first wave of organizations fighting for the civil rights of mental patients and combatting forced institutionalization, and was a contributor to Madness Network News and other publications. A poet, writer, and a committed feminist and out lesbian, she took part in civil disobedience to oppose electroconvulsive therapy, working with Judi Chamberlin, George Ebert, Leonard Roy Frank, and others.

Though varied and fragmentary, Cynthia Miller’s collection is a rich resource for study of the early history of the psychiatric survivors movement and the work of one activist in resisting psychiatric oppression. The collection contains some of Kalisa’s writings and correspondence along with ephemera and a varied collection of newspapers, newsletters, and other publications relating to Project Release and several other organizations that Kalisa supported, including the Mental Patients Liberation Front and the Alliance for the Liberation of Mental Patients.

Subjects
Antipsychiatry
Electroconvulsive therapy
Ex-mental patients
Feminism
Mentally ill--Civil rights
Psychiatric survivors movement--New York (City)
Contributors
Alliance for the Liberation of Mental Patients
Chamberlin, Judi, 1944-2010
Mental Patients Liberation Front
Project Release
Types of material
Newsletters
Northampton (Mass.) Area Mental Health Services

Northampton Area Mental Health Services Records

1973-1983
4 boxes 6 linear feet
Call no.: MS 027

In 1973 Hampshire Day House was established to provide day treatment to patients released from the Northampton State Hospital, which first opened as the Northampton Lunatic Asylum in 1858. As the Day House expanded its services it became known as the Northampton Area Mental Health Services (NAMHS). Valley Programs assumed responsibility for the operation of residential programs for deinstitutionalized individuals in Hampshire and Franklin counties in 1983, and seven years later the NAMHS and Valley Programs merged.

The collection consists of reports, financial records, board minutes, and correspondence for the Hampshire Day House.

Subjects
Community mental health services
Mental health facilities
Contributors
Northampton (Mass.) Area Mental Health Services
Northampton State Hospital

Northampton State Hospital Annual Reports

1856-1939
74 items (digital)
Call no.: RB 035

The Northampton State Hospital was opened in 1858 to provide moral therapy to the “insane,” and under the superintendency of Pliny Earle, became one of the best known asylums in New England. Before the turn of the century, however, the Hospital declined, facing the problems of overcrowding, poor sanitation, and inadequate funding. The push for psychiatric deinstitutionalization in the 1960s and 1970s resulted in a steady reduction of the patient population, the last eleven of whom left Northampton State in 1993.

With the Government Documents staff, SCUA has digitized the annual reports of the Northampton State Hospital from the beginning until the last published report in 1939. The reports appeared annually from 1856 until 1924 and irregularly from then until 1939.

Nourse, Rebecca Towne

Rebecca Towne Nourse Collection

1944-1993
1 box 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 1023

Rebecca Nourse, born on October 5, 1928, was Laurence G. Nourse’s second child. Laurence, a graduate of Dartmouth College, was a long time educator and served as the Superintendent of Schools for Norton, Mass. from 1924 to 1958. Rebecca was born with intellectual disabilities and after attending the Norton Public Schools and the Deveraux School, now known as Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health, she was committed to the Belchertown State School in 1949. She remained at Belchertown for eleven years, transferring to the Laconia State School in Laconia, New Hampshire so she could be closer to her parents’ home in Deery. Rebecca died on March 12, 1993.

The Rebecca T. Nourse Collection though small, paints a rich portrait of the challenges of managing a daughter’s care in a State institution. The collection is made up of Laurence’s correspondence leading up to Rebecca’s commitment and with State School administration about issues ranging from replacing Rebecca’s broken glasses to attempts to make her tuition more affordable for their family. There are also a small number of letters from Rebecca to her father and mother and Rebecca’s commitment papers, school reports, certificates, brochures, and her death certificate.

Subjects
Mental retardation--Social aspects
People with disabilities--Civil rights
People with disabilities--Institutional care--Massachusetts
Contributors
Belchertown State School
Nourse, Laurence G.
Types of material
Correspondence
Perske, Robert

Robert and Martha Perske Papers

1964-2005
13 boxes 19.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 772
Depiction of Bob and Martha Perske with their dog, Wolfie, 2004
Bob and Martha Perske with their dog, Wolfie, 2004

While serving with the U.S. Navy in the Philippines during World War II, the teenaged Bob Perske became aware of the vulnerable and disabled in society and turned his life toward advocacy on their behalf. Studying for the ministry after returning to civilian life, Perske was appointed chaplain at the Kansas Neurological Institute, serving children with intellectual disabilities for 11 years, after which he became a full-time street, court, and prison worker — a citizen advocate — laboring in the cause of deinstitutionalization and civil rights of persons with disabilities, particularly those caught in the legal system. After Bob married his wife Martha in 1971, the two became partners in work, with Martha often illustrating Bob’s numerous books and articles. In 2002, Perske was recognized by the American Bar Association as the only non-lawyer to ever receive the Paul Hearne Award for Services to Persons with Disabilities.

The Perske Papers contains a fifty year record of published and unpublished writings by Bob Perske on issues surrounding persons with disabilities, along with correspondence, photographs, and other materials relating to the Perskes’ activism. The correspondence includes a particularly rich set of letters with a fellow advocate for persons with disabilities, Robert R. Williams.

Gift of Robert and Martha Perske, 2013
Subjects
Mental retardation--Social aspects
People with disabilities--Deinstitutionalization
People with disabilities--Legal status, laws, etc.
Contributors
Perske, Martha
Williams, Robert R.
Types of material
Photographs