Illustrated London News, New School Room, 1870 (catalogue reference: ZPER 34/56)

31 January 2014


This talk explores the fascinating and little-known world of the history of people with learning disabilities, known variously over time as idiots, imbeciles, defectives and mentally handicapped. Using court records, government files, parish records, prints, art and even jokes we can unearth a rich vein of often surprising information, back to medieval times.

Simon Jarrett is a Wellcome Trust doctoral researcher at Birkbeck, University of London, working on 'idiocy' in the 18th century. He is the author of Disability in time and place, an English Heritage web resource, and is writing a book on the same subject.

This talk forms part of The National Archives' Diversity Week.

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