The Research Group
The group is based in the Faculty of Health & Social Care at the Open
University. It was set up in 1994 to research the history of learning
disability in the 20th century.
It is interested in:
The history of institutions, including the long-stay hospitals
The history of community care (including family life, schools and
Historical sources include personal stories, photographs, audio-visual
material as well as more traditional historical documents.
To encourage historians, researchers and people with learning difficulties
to work together on the history of learning disability
To develop methods of historical inquiry that combine oral history,
biography and archive research
To find ways and means of making history available and accessible
to all who are interested
To make links between the history of learning disability and broader
Dorothy Atkinson, Open University
Pauline Brand, Open University
Lindsay Brigham, Open University
Ian Buchanan, University of York
Rohhss Chapman, University of Manchester
Pamela Dale, Exeter University
Daniel Doherty, The University of Manchester Partnership Steering Group
Sue Dumbleton, Open University
Helen Graham, Open University
Nigel Ingham, Community Service Volunteers
Sue Ledger, Open University
Duncan Mitchell, University of Manchester
Melanie Nind, University of Southampton
Katherine Owen, Open University
Liz Tilley, Open University
Sheena Rolph, Open University
Louise Townson, Carlisle People First
Walmsley, Open University
Welshman, University of Lancaster
Research group 2002
[Left to right: Rohhss Chapman, Sue Ledger, Dorothy Atkinson, Jan Walmsley, John Welshman, Nigel Ingham, Melanie Nind, Duncan Mitchell, Sheena Rolph]
Research group 2009
[Left to right: (Back row) Ian Buchanan, Zoe Hughes, Nigel Ingham, Liz Tilley, Jan Walmsley, Dorothy Atkinson, Sheena Rolph. (Seated) Sue Ledger, Duncan Mitchell, Helen Graham]
The SHLD group have compiled a list of our publications that date from 1990 to the present day. We have divided the list into:
Exploring Experiences of Advocacy by People with Learning Disabilities: Testimonies of Resistance
Mitchell, D., Traustadóttir, R., Chapman, R., Townson, L., Ingham, N. and Ledger, S. (Eds) (2006) Exploring Experiences of Advocacy by People with Learning Disabilities: Testimonies of Resistance, London, Jessica Kingsley.
Exploring Experiences of Advocacy by People with Learning Disabilities charts the course through which people with learning disabilities have become increasingly able to direct their own lives as fully active members of their communities.
Accounts from the UK, Australia, Canada and Iceland consider both the individual pioneers of self-advocacy and the local and national groups that have been set up to work actively towards improved services for people with learning disabilities. The book also examines what self-advocacy means for these people and provides an overview of how opportunities and services have changed for them over the decades.
Many of the personal accounts, photographs and songs included in this book are accessible and encouraging to people with learning disabilities and inspiring reading for professionals who work with them, family members and community and government service providers.
Duncan Mitchell is Professor of Health and Disability at Manchester Metropolitan University and Head of Clinical Services for Manchester Learning Disability Partnership. Rannveig Traustadóttir is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Social Science at the University of Iceland, Reykjavik, and President of the Nordic Network on Disability Research. Rohhss Chapman is a Development Worker for Cumbria People First. Louise Townson is Project Director for Carlisle People First, and a member of the UK Government task force on Valuing People. Nigel Ingham is a Project Officer with Community Service Volunteers (CSV) in Lancaster and an experienced Community Oral Historian. Sue Ledger is a Service Manager in an inner London borough.
Community Care in Perspective: Care, Control, and Citizenship
Welshman, J. and Walmsley, J. (Eds) (2006) Community Care in Perspective: Care, Control and Citizenship, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan.
Edited by John Welshman and Jan Walmsley, with chapters by:
James W. Trent
This book tells the story of community care for people with learning difficulties between 1948 and 2001. It explores how policy changed from controlling people in institutions to promoting their rights to be equal citizens.
Part 1 examines how ideas changed.
Part 2 examines how policy and practice changed in the United Kingdom.
Part 3 examines changes in the USA, Norway and Sweden, Canada and Australia.
Part 4 tells people's own stories, showing how policy changes affected people's lives. It includes staff, voluntary organisations and families as well as people with learning difficulties.
Witnesses to Change: Families, Learning Difficulties and History
Atkinson, D., Nind, M., Rolph, S. and Welshman, J. (2005) Witnesses to Change: Families, Learning Difficulties and History, Kidderminster, BILD Publications
The stories in Witnesses to Change show how learning disabilities impacted on family life and relationships in the twentieth century, how challenges were approached and how families acted as advocates. It illustrates diversity and variety in family life, aiming to be inclusive and to challenge stereotypes. It highlights past mistakes as well as successes in managing learning disability services. And above all, it celebrates the lives of families who have contributed their stories.
Great strides have been made in the past decade in uncovering the history of learning disability using oral sources. The focus has been on recovering the voice of people with learning difficulties in order to correct a tendency towards the 'official' sources. But until now, families have not been seen as key contributors to this movement. This book seeks to alter that.
Witnesses to Change was published in September 2005 by the British Institute of Learning Disabilities (BILD) and the editors are Sheena Rolph, Dorothy Atkinson, Melanie Nind, and John Welshman. The book costs £25, ISBN 1 904082 75 0, and can be obtained from BookSource on 08702 402182, or by visiting the BILD website.
Good Times, Bad Times: Women with learning difficulties telling their stories
Atkinson, D., McCarthy, M., Walmsley, J. et al (2000) Good Times, Bad Times: Women with learning difficulties telling their stories, Kidderminster, BILD Publications
Crossing Boundaries. Continuity and Change in the History of Learning Disability
Brigham, L., Atkinson, D., Jackson, M., Rolph, S. and Walmsley, J. (2000) Crossing Boundaries. Change and Continuity in the History of Learning Disability, Kidderminster, BILD Publications
Forgotten Lives. Exploring the History of Learning Disability
Atkinson, D., Jackson, M. and Walmsley, J. (1997) Forgotten Lives. Exploring the History of Learning Disability, Kidderminster, BILD Publications
Each year we hold an annual conference, normally in July. Information about our most recent conference and (when available) our next conference can be found on the Conferences page.
Previous conference titles are as follows:
Gender, Caring and Learning Disability
(1995) Unpublished PhD thesis, Milton Keynes, Open University
The History of Community Care for People with Learning Difficulties in Norfolk, 1930 1980. The role of two hostels
Sheena Rolph (1999) Unpublished PhD thesis, Milton Keynes, Open University
the Past: the Role of Local Mencap Societies in the Development of Community
Care in East Anglia, 1946 1980
funded project, 2000 2002
A Hidden Heritage: Local Mencap Societies and the Provision
of Social Care in East Anglia, 1946 1990
Oral history of Mental Welfare
OU funded project (2000)
Researching the history of learning disability using oral and
life history methods
Dorothy Atkinson (2001) Unpublished PhD
thesis, Milton Keynes, Open University
The History of day centres for people with learning difficulties in Croydon
Heritage Lottery funded project, 2006 - 2008
Keeping Wartime Memory Alive
Carlisle People First in association with The Open University, 2006 - 2007
Unlocking the Past - A Royal Albert Hospital Archive
Community Service Volunteers (CSV) Heritage Lottery Funded project, 2006
Empowerment and Disability: Informal learning through advocacy and self-advocacy
Grundtvig Learning Partnership, 2005–2007