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From Institution to Inclusion: The History of disAbilities in Oklahoma

To celebrate People with Disabilities Awareness Day on March 8, the Oklahoma Historical Society’s (OHS) John and Eleanor Kirkpatrick Research Center opened the interactive exhibit From Institution to Inclusion: The History of disAbilities in Oklahoma. The exhibit is located inside the Research Center, on the first floor of the Oklahoma History Center.

Through digital photographs, From Institution to Inclusion highlights Oklahoma’s disability pioneers. Guests will view images of the institutions, legislators, and citizens who fought to break down barriers; the organizations making a difference today; and self-advocates who continue to lead the charge for change. Visitors will have the opportunity to explore historical items from OHS collections, including ledgers from the Cherokee Insane Asylum dating to 1879, an iron lung used for treating polio, and examples of the evolution of prosthetics and assistive devices. The exhibit will offer a unique, hands-on experience. Visitors can move their fingertips across the lines of a braille textbook, use a weighted blanket, and become acquainted with modern daily living assistive devices.

This exhibit was made possible through a grant funded by the Developmental Disabilities Council of Oklahoma and will be available for viewing through August 31, 2022.

Historical materials and documents in this exhibit may include offensive language, negative stereotypes, and descriptions of traumatic events. These materials are presented as part of the historical record and do not represent the viewpoints of the Oklahoma Historical Society.

An 1896 ledger with hand-written entries, and a prosthetic hand made of metal with leather straps