by Kim E. Nielsen

About Kim E. Nielsen

Kim E. Nielsen is Professor of Disability Studies at the University of Toledo, where she also teaches courses in History and Women’s and Gender Studies. She is the author of A Disability History of the United States (2012). Her other books include Beyond the Miracle Worker: The Remarkable Life of Anne Sullivan Macy and Her Extraordinary Friendship with Helen Keller (2009) and The Radical Lives of Helen Keller (NYU Press, 2004).


Historians grapple with and learn from disability via two distinct but overlapping methods of analyzing change over time. First, they examine the daily and structural lives of those considered disabled and others who interact with them; second, they analyze changing historical conceptualizations of disability, able-bodiedness, and able-mindedness. Many disability historians also explore disability and ableism’s relation to other frameworks of power—such as race, class, sexuality, age, gender, and family. Central to disability history is the analytical and archival task of unpacking the largely Western and contemporary cross-impairment category we now call disability.