Written by Jason S. Planck 2011©
Title of Project: Disability Civil Rights Laws and Movements: in depths look at the Executive Branch role from the President Woodrow Wilson through the President George W. Bush administrations.
Product or Research: Publish an article to get the information out there quickly to the public. Then publish a book for a more permanent resource to be used.
I have received Arthur M. Schlesinger Fellowship at the JFK Presidential Library in Boston, Massachusetts to do research on my project.
I have received Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute at the Franklin Roosevelt Presidential Library in Hyde Park, New York to do research on my project.
I have also received help from various National Parks, Presidential Libraries, library of Congress, and Historical Sites to help with documentation of my research.
The research conducted will help educate the public of the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch role in regards to Disability Civil Rights Laws and Movements through historic documents found at the different Presidential Libraries.
ninety-one years after the first Civil Rights Law was signed, and almost twenty-one years after the historical passage of the Americans with Disability Act of 1990, people with a disability still have not seen many changes in the quality of their life. During the ninety-one years, the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch has held many different forums and committees to help solve this problem. The general public still has no idea of how big this problem really is. Also the general public still does not understand why we need civil rights legislation for persons with a disability. The Executive Branch and the Legislation Branch did make a lot of effort to educate the general public, but some how it has not been really effective. The general public still doesn’t understand that people with a disability do have a right to live and enjoy life, just as they do. By researching the historical documents on this issue, and gathering them together into one document. Then information can be more easily disseminated to the general public to help them understand the needs for civil rights legislation for people with disabilities.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau there are estimated to be over 54 million persons with disabilities in the United States. Disability Civil Rights laws and movements can be dated back from when bills were introduced in 1917 & 1918 to provide rehabilitation for World War 1 veterans in the President Woodrow Wilson administration, through the historical passage of the Americans with Disability Act in 1990, and the Executive Branch trying to enforce these newly passed disability civil rights laws, to the current President George W. Bush administration. The research conducted will be looking at the role of the Executive Branch in dealing with this national issue, and their recommendations of how to solve this huge problem. As a result of contacting Presidential Libraries to find out what they offered in the way of information, the Archivists at these Presidential Libraries suggested that I visit the closest Presidential Library to me. This would be the President Franklin D. Roosevelt Library and Museum in Hyde Park, New York. I found that there were mounds of information on the disability civil rights laws and movements here. With only a small amount of time because of lack of funding, my visit was short, but I was able to go through two boxes of information. These boxes contained lots of information about three different Presidents, and their unwavering support for the Disabled Community. One of the file boxes (56) Collection Title: Carmody, John (1933-1956), contained a speech made by President Eisenhower at the fall meeting of the President’s Committee on Employment of the Physically Handicapped on September 22 – 23 1953. President Eisenhower said, “There are many commissions and committees that carry with them the title of President’s Committee or Commission. There is none that engages the interest of my heart, or of which I am prouder, than this one.” Also in this folder I was able to find other finding aids that could uncover more boxes of great information about disability civil rights laws and movements. Presidential Libraries that don’t have travel grants may have information available in different formats because of crossover of information by different staff members, so completion of the project can be accomplished with those Presidential Libraries that do offer travel grants and other grants.
As an ongoing I have continuing to interview many leaders in the Disabled Community over this period to find out more information that will be leading to more finding aids at the different Presidential Library. Also I have been doing legal research at libraries, and using the federal depository at those libraries to find more finding aids. This will mean that I can be more productive, and use my time wisely while visiting the Presidential libraries.
Outcome of Research:
I firmly believe that this information is very important as a historical need, so people can be educated about the Disabled Community’s needs, and to help improve our lives. I also believe that the Executive Branch and Congress played a key role, but somehow that has not been brought out to the general public, and this research will do that.
Jason S. Planck