Disability advocates across the country are mobilizing to help create understanding and celebrate the history of individuals with disabilities! Since West Virginia passed the first…
The Museum of disABILITY History
Timeline from The Museum of disABILITY History
Hippocrates, the Greek physician, wrote the first work on epilepsy disputing that the disorder was a curse or caused by the gods. He believed that epilepsy was a brain disorder. "It is thus with regard to the disease called Sacred: it appears to me to be nowise more divine or more sacred than other diseases, but has a natural cause from the originates like other affections. Men regard its nature and cause as divine from ignorance and wonder, because it is not at all like to other diseases."
The court fool was a part of the medieval and renaissance court society. Some jesters were disabled either physically or mentally.
Malleus Maleficarum, or translated "The Hammer of the Witches," is a witch hunting manual which discusses seizures as a characteristic of witches. The manual was written by two Dominican Friars with the authority of the pope.
Elizabethan Poor Laws were passed from 1583 to 1601 in order to aid the deserving poor, orphaned and crippled. The 1601 law was a consolidation of prior legislation and laid some of the burden on society by charging a "poor rate" on owners of property. Queen Elizabeth's government divided the poor into three groups. The disabled poor were placed in the group labeled "helpless poor."
The Salem Witch Trials resulted in the hanging of 19 witches, both male and female. It has been purported that some of the 19 were either feebleminded, of little or no education, or insane. Fear of what was different played into this community's persecution of so-called witches.
The Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, with the help of Benjamin Franklin, is the first hospital to create a special section for the treatment of mental illness and mental retardation. In 1756, these patients would be chained to the walls of the basement and put on display for a fee.
Virginia establishes the first hospital solely for the treatment of "idiots, lunatics and other people of unsound mind."