Tag Archive


Who Should Tell the Story? The Pennhurst Haunted Asylum and the Pennhurst Museum in Public History

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The Pennhurst Haunted Asylum and the Pennhurst Museum, operated by Pennhurst LLC in collaboration with the Pennhurst Memorial and Preservation Alliance (PMPA), exist side-by-side on the grounds of the shuttered Pennhurst State School and Hospital in Spring City, Pennsylvania. The sites might seem to have opposite goals: one to frighten and entertain, the other to educate about past wrongs. Read More

Preserving Intellectual Disability History: The Elwyn Archives and Museum

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Founded in 1852 as the Pennsylvania Training School for Feeble-Minded Children, Elwyn is the oldest continuously operating educational facility for people with intellectual disabilities in the United States. Today, headquartered just outside Philadelphia, it is a large multi-state provider of community-based and residential supports to people with a wide range of disabilities. Read More

Origins of the Pennhurst Memorial and Preservation Alliance

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Many countries have erected memorials to the state-sponsored suffering of their citizens, such as the Gedenkstaette memorial in Dachau, Germany and Freedom Park in Pretoria, South Africa. For more than 150 years, millions of Americans with developmental disabilities were segregated, isolated, neglected, and abused in overcrowded, state-funded institutions, as poignantly detailed in disability rights scholar Burton Blatt’s Christmas in Purgatory. Read More

Historic Sites and the Root Causes of Environmental Injustice

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Editor’s note: This is our third installment of the “Public Historians in Our Climate Emergency” series.

Historic sites have a critical role to play in advancing environmental and climate justice, using history and place to unlock the root causes of both harm and the ongoing resistance to addressing that harm. Read More