Inside the History of Learning Disabilities

Antonia Grandoni inside the history of learning disabilities header

About the project

This is a research project. Our research is about the history of learning disabilities. We looked at a very old medical book to see how people used to think about and talk about people with learning disabilities a long time ago. We compared what people said then with what we know about living with learning disabilities today.

We found the book in a digital archive called the UK Medical Heritage Library (UKHML). It was written in 1877 by Dr. William Ireland. In it we found the story of a lady called Antonia Grandoni. The story had both words and pictures.

If she was alive today, people would probably say Antonia had learning disabilities. We analysed her story very carefully and talked about her life and how it was similar and different to our own lives. We also made collages to express what we felt about Antonia, her story and our own lives. We made this website so that people could find out about the project.

Project Team

We had a mix of different people helping with the project. Some of us have learning difficulties and some don’t.

Drawing of The Brain Charity History of Disability Group

The team included:

• People who get support from The Brain Charity and The Teaching and Research Advisory Committee (TRAC)
• Volunteers at The Brain Charity and TRAC
• Janet Ireland, Information Officer at The Brain Charity
• Dr Owen Barden from Liverpool Hope University
• Dr Steve Walden from the University of South Wales
• Laura Brodrick, a professional graphic illustrator

The project was funded by a grant from The British Academy and Jisc.