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Appears in Collections:History and Politics Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Disability in nineteenth-century Scotland - the case of Marion Brown
Author(s): Hutchison, Iain C
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Keywords: Disability
phyical impairment
People with disabilities Home care Scotland 19th century
Issue Date: Dec-2002
Date Deposited: 5-Feb-2009
Citation: Hutchison IC (2002) Disability in nineteenth-century Scotland - the case of Marion Brown. University of Sussex Journal of Contemporary History, (5).
Abstract: The perception that people with disabilities increasingly became regarded as ‘other’ as the nineteenth century advanced is encouraged by the expansion of institutionalisation, particularly for those with mental impairments, but also for many people with sensory disablement. People with physical impairments were given less prominence in this trend although, as the medicalisation of disablement gained ascendancy, some of them experienced confinements of considerable duration. This paper recognises that many people with disabilities did not spend portions of their lives in institutions, but lived within the family structure and as part of their local community. It explores this experience through the writings of Marion Brown (1844-1916) who lived in Sanquhar, Dumfriesshire. She suffered from a variety of physical and sensory impairments of varying duration that are revealed in correspondence to relatives in Dunmore, Pennsylvania. Her letters reveal ways in which disablement was both ‘normal’ and marginalising, and they show how contentment and joy were juggled with yearning and apprehension. This paper offers an interpretation of the ways in which Marion Brown’s impairments were of submerged significance in a society ingrained to encountering a variety of economic and social vicissitudes, while on a personal level being the cause of frustration, unrealised aspiration, and impending loss of security.
Rights: Published by University Sussex. Article originally published in University of Sussex Journal of Contemporary History, already freely available at:

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