This book aims to bring attention to the group of disabled children and highlights their experiences during the Second World War, thereby correcting the current imbalance in the historical record. In doing this, the book discusses the policies and procedures that shaped the children's wartime experiences, and the personnel and institutions that were responsible for their welfare. It examines how the children coped on a day-to-day basis. The book first examines the five official categories of disability as defined in the 1921 Education Act. It examines the arrangements made for the evacuation of disabled children, beginning with the 'Munich Crisis' of September 1938 and including the 'main' evacuation one year later. The book then examines the experiences of those disabled children who spent their war years in a residential special school. Case studies of two residential special schools allow a comparison to be made between those established and maintained by the evacuation authorities and those run privately. The attitudes of government officials towards disabled people, including children, were ambiguous throughout the war years. The book discusses special day schools, hospital schools and training colleges, and it appears that it was with regard to the latter that negative perceptions were most evident. The postwar expansion of special schools and the position of teachers within special education are also discussed, as is the changing role of the voluntary sector in caring for disabled children.
The Victorian era, encompassing the latter six decades of the nineteenth century,
was a period by which significant areas of the British Isles had become
industrialised and urbanised. Both processes exacerbated the extent of impairing
conditions, ranging from industrial injury through the prevalence of
debilitating physiological illnesses. Disability and the Victorians: attitudes,
interventions, legacies brings together the work of eleven scholars and focuses
on the history of disability and, while showcasing the work of a diverse
gathering of historians, also gives a flavour of how disability history engages
the work of scholars from other disciplines and how they, in turn, enhance
historical thought and understanding. Equally, while the focus is on the
Victorian era, a time during which society changed significantly, both at the
bottom and from the top, it was also a time in which patterns developed that
were to have an enduring influence. Therefore, a taste of that enduring
influence is presented in chapters that suggest the resilience of Victorian
thought and practices in the modern era. Consequently, an underlying aim is to
encourage readers to take a broad view, both of ‘disability’ and of Victorian
influences and values.
Using an interdisciplinary approach, including historical semantics, medicine, natural philosophy and law, the book considers a neglected field of social and medical history and makes an original contribution to the problem of a shifting concept such as 'idiocy'. The book considers the semantics of intellectual disability (ID) by looking at the words and labels used across time and place for conditions that might be subsumed by the umbrella-term 'intellectual disability' in modern Western society. The book discusses concepts of ID in medieval natural science, that is, anatomical and medical texts, now termed as the neurological foundations. Turning from the material aspects of neurology to the immateriality of psychology, it treats mind and soul in relation to ID. Discussing the theme of childishness, the book considers the legal position of persons with ID. The question of whether a legal case related to mental illness or ID is analysed. Thinking about legal agency returns to the themes of idiocy and infancy. The book then looks at the socio-cultural implications of ID through the lens of court fools, pets and entertainers. An overview of the link between court fools, idiots and social theories of dominance leads on to classical antiquity and the origin of 'fools', with the fully fledged medieval court fools noticeable and remarkable for 'foolish' behaviour rather than medicalised traits.