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Disabil Health J. 2011 Jan;4(1):24-7. doi: 10.1016/j.dhjo.2010.07.008. Epub 2010 Sep 19.

History at the intersection of disability and public health: the case of John Galsworthy and disabled soldiers of the First World War.

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1
History of Medicine Division, National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20894-3819, USA. jeffrey.reznick@nih.gov

Abstract

The author presented an earlier version of this historical article to the Disability Section of the American Public Health Association (November 2009). It is part of his ongoing research in the social and cultural history of medicine as the field intersects with the history of disability, veterans, and public health, as well as current issues that touch all of these areas. This article introduces readers to perspectives on disability held by the British novelist John Galsworthy (1867-1933), which he developed primarily through his philanthropic support for and his compositions about rehabilitation programs for British and American soldiers disabled in the First World War (1914-1918). Readers will learn that Galsworthy's perspectives are as much about his identity as an individual with disabilities as they are about men disabled in the "war to end all wars." The rediscovery of Galsworthy's experiences and words more than 90 years after the end of World War I reveals how history is present today at the intersection of disability and public health. Indeed, the story of Galsworthy ultimately seeking to forget his own experiences during the "Great War," as well as the very physical and psychological disability caused by that conflict, can inspire public health professionals and disability rights advocates today to remember-indeed, to advocate for-men and women who served in battle and have returned home to realize renewed health and social participation despite permanent physical and psychological wounds. Readers will note that language used throughout this article to describe disability is period-specific and therefore not keeping with current conventions.

PMID:
21168804
DOI:
10.1016/j.dhjo.2010.07.008
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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