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Museum of DisABILITY History

Media Timeline

Timeline Index

1831

The Christian Register 1831

The Christian Register “The Christian Register” runs an uplifting story about deaf, dumb, and blind girl anmed Julia Brace who lived at the Hartford Asylum.
1849

Blind Tom plays his first public performance 1849

Blind Tom plays his first public performance  Blind Tom (1849-1908) plays his first public performance and became a media sensation even gaining high praise from Mark Twain. Blind Tom would today be labeled an "autistic savent"
1866

Harper's New Monthly Magazine prints an article on Blackwell's Island Lunatic Asulum. 1866

Harper's New Monthly Magazine prints an article on Blackwell's Island Lunatic Asulum.  1866 - Harper's New Monthly Magazine prints an article on Blackwell's Island Lunatic Asulum. Blackwell's Island, in New York City's East River, is now called Roosevelt Island. The Lunatic Asylum, designed by noted architect Alexander Jaskson Davis, opened in 1839 and featured an octagon tower.

Harper's New Monthly Magazine 1866

Harper's New Monthly Magazine 1866 - Harper's New Monthly Magazine prints an article on Blackwell's Island Lunatic Asylum. Blackwell's Island, in New York City's East River, is now called Roosevelt Island. The Lunatic Asylum, designed by noted architect Alexander Jackson Davis, opened in 1839 and featured and octagon tower.
1868

The Prisoner's Hidden Life 1868

The Prisoner's Hidden Life 1868 - "The Prisoner's Hidden Life" or "Insane Asylums Unveiled," was an expose on the insane asylum system written by Mrs. E. P. W. Packard. Mrs. Packard was wrongly placed in an asylum by her husband and then went on to write of the experience.
1932

Freaks 1932

Freaks 1932 - Tod Browning releases the film "Freaks" with a cast of disabled performers. The movie opened to criticism for its depiction of the disabled and the general public's perception of the disabled.
1934

Tomorrow's Children 1934

Tomorrow's Children 1934 - The film "Tomorrow's Children" is released. The movie had a eugenic plot that centered on a family of degenerates, cripples, and mentally disabled individuals that are offered welfare-for-life if they agree to sterilization.
1938

The March of Dimes 1938

The March of Dimes

1938 - The March of Dimes is created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to help fight polio. The organization started by using a radio campaign to raise funds and over the years has used the media for public awareness and fundraising.
1939

Wizard of Oz 1939

Wizard of Oz  1939 - The "Wizard of Oz" opens in theaters with a large cast of "munchkins."
1940

Little Moron 1940

Little Moron 1940s (1943) - "Little Moron" books become popular with their "jokes" at the expense of the Little Moron and his low IQ.

Moron Gulch 1940

Moron Gulch 1940s - "Moron Gulch" cartoon depicting "backwoods-men" of several mental capacities.
1946

Bedlam 1946 1946

Bedlam 1946

1946 - Bedlam 1946 a photo essay from Life magazine that exposes the abuses at American mental hospitals written by Albert Q. Maisel
1958

\"Cavalcade of Stars" celebrity fundraiser for the Shield of David 1958

\   1958 - "Cavalcade of Stars" celebrity fundraiser for the Shield of David, Institute for Retarded Children. Celebrities included Dick Clark, Tony Randall, and others.
1960

Kingston Trio album for March of Dimes public awareness 1960

Kingston Trio album for March of Dimes public awareness 1960 - Kingston Trio album for March of Dimes public awareness. Popular musicians were also part of the effort to promote the March of Dimes.

Johnny Carson at the Celebrity Parade for Cerebral Palsy 1960

Johnny Carson at the Celebrity Parade for Cerebral Palsy   1960s - Johnny Carson at the Celebrity Parade for Cerebral Palsy. As television became more available to the public its celebrities also joined in disability awareness events.
1965

Mental Retardation Campaign 1965

Mental Retardation Campaign   1965-66 - "Mental Retardation Campaign" public service announcements from the President's Committee on Mental Retardation with personal appeals from Lyndon B. Johnson, Dr. Spock and Roy Rogers among others. These announcements were played on the radio.

Mental Retardation Campaign 1965

Mental Retardation Campaign 1965-66 - "Mental Retardation Campaign" public service announcements from the President's Committee on Mental Retardation with personal appeals from Lyndon B. Johnson, Dr. Spock and Roy Rogers among others. These announcements were played on the radio.

Senator Robert F. Kennedy visits Willowbrook State School 1965

Senator Robert F. Kennedy visits Willowbrook State School 1965 - Senator Robert F. Kennedy visits Willowbrook State School and labeled the deplorable conditions a "snake pit." His visit lead to several published articles on the problems at the school in the Staten Island Advance. Seven years later Geraldo Rivera televised the dilapidated school.
1966

The first Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon for Muscular Dystrophy is aired on TV 1966

The first Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon for Muscular Dystrophy is aired on TV The first Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon for Muscular Dystrophy is aired on television. The telethon has helped to raise over $2 billion dollars and is still televised every Labor Day weekend.
1968

Henry Fonda in a United Cerebral Palsy awareness and fund raising advertisement 1968

Henry Fonda in a United Cerebral Palsy awareness and fund raising advertisement   1968 - Henry Fonda in a United Cerebral Palsy awareness and fund raising advertisement with the poster child Kenny Cunningham.
1970

Beetle Bailey comic book 1970

Beetle Bailey comic book   1970 - Beetle Bailey comic book, a complimentary copy to promote awareness for the Cerebral Palsy Association.

The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped 1970

The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped 1970 - The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped begins to publish a braille version of Playboy magazine.
1971

Barbara Streisand as the National Association 1971

Barbara Streisand as the National Association   1971 - Barbara Streisand as the National Association for Retarded Children National Chairman.
1972

Geraldo Rivera does an expose on the Willowbrook State School that leads to an immediate federal inquiry 1972

Geraldo Rivera does an expose on the Willowbrook State School that leads to an immediate federal inquiry   1972 - Geraldo Rivera does an expose on the Willowbrook State School that leads to an immediate federal inquiry. The deplorable conditions of this facility for the mentally retarded were televised and Willowbrook became national news.

\"The National Tattler" newspaper with a cover story titled "Testers Inject Retarded Children has Hepatitis" 1972

\   1972 - "The National Tattler" newspaper with a cover story titled "Testers Inject Retarded Children has Hepatitis," about an experimental program at the Willowbrook State School in New York.

Sonny and Cher at the height of their fame are named Cerebral Palsy National Celebrity Chairmen 1972

Sonny and Cher at the height of their fame are named Cerebral Palsy National Celebrity Chairmen   1972 - Sonny and Cher at the height of their fame are named Cerebral Palsy National Celebrity Chairmen. Further promoting fundraising and public awareness through the vehicle of celebrity.
1980

John Ritter in a fund raising advertisement for the Cerebral Palsy telethon in association with Miller Beer 1980

John Ritter in a fund raising advertisement for the Cerebral Palsy telethon in association with Miller Beer   1980 - John Ritter in a fund raising advertisement for the Cerebral Palsy telethon in association with Miller Beer. Ritter, whose brother had cerebral palsy, was the telethon chairman for many years.
1981

Weekend with the Stars Telethon for Cerebral Palsy 1981

Weekend with the Stars Telethon for Cerebral Palsy   1981 - Weekend with the Stars Telethon for Cerebral Palsy, including John Ritter, Paul Anka, Frank Sinatra.

Weekend with the Stars Telethon for Cerebral Palsy 1981

Weekend with the Stars Telethon for Cerebral Palsy 1981 - Weekend with the Stars Telethon for Cerebral Palsy, including John Ritter, Paul Anka, Frank Sinatra.

Weekend with the Stars Telethon for Cerebral Palsy 1981

Weekend with the Stars Telethon for Cerebral Palsy   1981 - Weekend with the Stars Telethon for Cerebral Palsy, including John Ritter, Paul Anka, Frank Sinatra.

Weekend with the Stars Telethon for Cerebral Palsy 1981

Weekend with the Stars Telethon for Cerebral Palsy   1981 - Weekend with the Stars Telethon for Cerebral Palsy, including John Ritter, Paul Anka, Frank Sinatra.
1982

\"The disABILITY Rag" magazine for and by the disabled community was first published in 1980 1982

\ 1982 - "The disABILITY Rag" magazine for and by the disabled community was first published in 1980. This magazine is now available on the world wide web and is now known as the Ragged Edge.
1988

Rain Man 1988

Rain Man   1988 - "Rain Man" starring Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise about the relationship of an autistic savant and his brother.

\"Kids Like These" movie 1988

\ 1988 - "Kids Like These" movie is made for television starring Tyne Daly.
1990

Mouth magazine publishes its first issue 1990

Mouth magazine publishes its first issue 1990 - Mouth magazine publishes its first issue. The bi-monthly magazine considers itself the voice of the disability nation.