Western History Disability Studies and Disabled Scholar Award

The purpose of the Western History Disability Studies and Disabled Scholar Award is to promote the place of disability and all of the ramifications that disability, diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion have had in the history of the North American West. It is important to promote and support scholars who study this history, whether these scholars have a disability or not. To read more on the significance and vibrancy of Disability Studies, see Disability Studies and History below.

Two $500 awards, funded by independent blind historian Alida Boorn, will support two graduate student who either are working in the fields of disability studies and western history OR identify as disabled and who wish to attend the WHA conference with financial assistance. Funding from the award will assist their ability to research and present academic papers and network with other scholars at the annual WHA conferences.

Applicants should send in one pdf file to each member of the committee listed below: 1) a letter of interest, and 2) CV. Include your last name in the title of the pdf file. Applicants should request that their faculty advisor send a letter of support to each committee member.

-2022 Awards Cycle opens January 23, 2022

-2022 Award Submission (Postmark) Deadline: July 15, 2022

The WHA office sends award notifications in August.

Traci Voyles, Chair
University of Oklahoma


Jay Price
Wichita State University


Karl Jacoby
Columbia University


Disability Studies and Western History

The study of Disability in Western History is to bring awareness to today's current and future scholars about how American communities in the North American West approached persons with sensory, physical, and neurological diverse disabilities in order to understand both how and why current American communities and governments approach the contributions of disabled persons to their communities and how people in the past set attitudes about diverse inclusionality in society today.

There is a need to understand society's perceptions of disability today, as well as yesterday. Many questions need answers, such as how and why certain laws were written about how persons with sensory, physical, and mental disabilities should be treated by their communities, families, and society in general. How did disability direct citizenship and voting rights, health care, education, employment opportunities? More and more work in and outside of academia is now bringing the subject of disability studies, such as history, to the forefront. It has not been easy, but progress is being made.

Past Recipients

2021 | Ellie Kaplan, University of California, Davis

Return to Awards

The WHA is located in the Department of History at the University of Kansas.

The WHA is grateful to KU's History Department and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for their generous support!

Western History Association

University of Kansas | History Department

1445 Jayhawk Blvd. | 3650 Wescoe Hall

Lawrence, KS 66045 | 785-864-0860