About the project
The Disability Rights and Independent Living Movement Project was launched in 1996 to capture the history of a remarkable movement by people with disabilities to win legally defined civil rights and control over their own lives. Since then, more than 100 oral histories with leaders, participants, and observers of the movement in the 1960s and 1970s have preserved the living memory of the movement. A rich collection of personal papers and the records of key disability organizations join the oral histories in the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, comprising an in-depth research resource for the study of a contemporary social movement which has changed the social, cultural, and legal landscape of the nation.
The project has been funded with two field-initiated research grants from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, a division of the U.S. Department of Education. The first grant (1996-2000) focuses on the movement in Berkeley, California, one of the key cities where models for independent living were developed and disability rights issues defined. The second grant (2000-2003) expands the scope of the project nationwide, with oral histories of leaders from Boston, New York, and Washington D.C. to Texas, Chicago, and Los Angeles. A grant from the National Endowment for the Arts was received in 2004 to fund a project on artists with disabilities. Further interviews on the antecedents, implementation, and impact of the Americans with Disabilities Act were made possible by a grant from DBTAC-Pacific ADA Center in 2006. Interviews for the project were conducted by a joint team of OHC staff, consultants, and community members.
Additional support was received from private donors Raymond Lifchez, Judith Stronach, and June A. Cheit. The Prytanean Society at the University of California, Berkeley, funded the first two interviews done in 1984 and 1985. Special thanks are due Willa Baum, director of the Oral History Center (then the Regional Oral History Office), 1956-2001, who recognized the value of preserving the history of the disability movement and sustained and guided the development of the project.