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Disability History Resources: Home

A guide to information resources for the study of disability history
Subjects: History

Purpose of this guide

This guide is intended for researchers and students studying Disability History. It is also useful for practitioners and members of public with an interest in or who have disabilities and who wish to gain a historical perspective.

Use this guide to find out about available resources for Disability History including archives, books, journals and more. Use the tabs at the top to navigate to different resources.

16 Nov to 16 Dec. 2023 was UK Disability History Month. This year UKDHM focussed on the experience of disablement amongst children and young people in the past.

We very much welcome feedback. Do you have a suggestion for additional resources? Recommend a resource now!

About this guide

This guide was created by the 2022-23 History Faculty Library trainee  as part of a year-long project. The resources within were crowdsourced during a Hackathon by 24 volunteer researchers in 2022 and as such the guide is necessarily limited in scope.

However, this guide does cover aspects of disability history including:

  • Time periods from pre-history to the modern day
  • A wide range of disabilities and related subjects
  • Currently mostly western-centric and English-language resources (with ambition to extend this range in the future)


For the purpose of this guide we have used a wide interpretation of the term 'disability' including some topics which may include people who do not identify themselves as having a disability. Their inclusion in this category is intended only to foster further research and discussion and is not intended as a statement regarding their identity.

Additionally some of the material linked here may contain offensive terms or terms whose meaning has changed over time, but this does not reflect the views of any person or entity involved in the creation of this LibGuide.

Finding books in Oxford Libraries

Oxford has a wide range of printed books and ebooks on Disability History, including many in the collections of the History of Medicine Library and the Radcliffe Camera. For more detailed info about recommended books both in Oxford and elsewhere, visit our books page on this guide.

Key journals in Oxford Libraries

A lot of journals, as well as being available in print, are available online and can be searched via SOLO or eJournals A-Z.

Below are a few of the top journals for Disability History, but you can find a longer list on the journals page of this guide.

Introductory reading

Related Guides

You may find helpful resources in many of our other guides such as:


This LibGuide was created by Alice Shepherd, the History Faculty Library Graduate Trainee from 2022-23, as her project for the year.

Many thanks go to her hard work.

Thanks also to the 24 volunteer researchers who provided resources for the guide during the Hackathon, and to the History Faculty for hosting and funding the event.

Before you start

Research in this area requires an awareness of the history of disability and how attitudes and terminology have changed over time.

Think about:

  • the type of disability and how it was diagnosed in the past (see Historic England's Disability History Glossary for some useful terminology)
  • what symptoms might have been noted and how they would have been described in historical medical terms
  • which dates and places you want to focus on to narrow down your research topic - some disabilities have been more prevalent than others in certain contexts

Keeping up-to-date

The following X (Twitter) accounts are worthwhile following:

Useful hashtags are : #DisabilityHistory #DisHist  -  #UKDHM (UK Disability History Month)


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Isabel Holowaty
Upper Reading Room, Room 2.03 (North / History end)
Bodleian Library, Broad Street
Oxford, OX1 3BG
01865 2-77294
Website Skype Contact: iholowaty
Subjects: History - British