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Western Pennsylvania Disability History and Action Consortium

Western Pennsylvania Disability History & Action Consortium

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Our website offers a collection of resources about disability rights history.

Spring 2021 Newsletter

New “Voices of Change” Video about the Life of Joe Benedum Trees
Joe Benedum Trees in a warmup jacket and a ballcap standing in front of a building with archwaysThe Consortium is pleased to announce the premiere of its latest video in the “Voices of Change” series. The story of Joe Benedum Trees (1931-2011) is told by three individuals who joyfully and lovingly cared for him at his Treesdale Manor home. The video interview can be found on the Consortium’s website...[READ MORE]

Remembering Dick Thornburgh and Stanley Holbrook

The Consortium remembers the life and legacy of two notable members of the Western Pennsylvania disability community who passed away at the end of 2020...[READ MORE]

Dick Thornburgh
Reverend Dr. Holbrook

Left: Dick Thornburgh. Right: Reverend Dr. Stanley Holbrook.

Carnegie Mellon University Receives Grant to Study Autonomous Vehicles for People with Disabilities
Carnegie Mellon announced in January that it received a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to study the use of autonomous vehicles for people with disabilities. John Tague, Consortium founding member and chairman of the Pennsylvania Transportation Alliance, is among the people with disabilities who are providing ground-level input to the CMU team working to develop a prototype system for autonomous vehicles controlled via smartphones...[READ MORE]

Mary Hartley Accepts Interim Executive Director Role with PEAL Center

The Consortium congratulates past project director Mary Hartley on her new position. In February, she transitioned to the position of Parent Education & Advocacy Leadership (PEAL) Center Interim Executive Director...[READ MORE]

Heinz History Center Hosts American Democracy Exhibit

Photos, a t shirt, and other antique looking exhibit itemsOn March 13, 2021, the Heinz History Center opened the exhibit American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith. Developed in partnership with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), this timely exhibition explores the history of citizen participation, debate, and compromise from the nation’s formation to today...[READ MORE]

Save the Date for Heinz History Center’s New Virtual Program

Black and white photo of nurses working in an old institution.Join the Heinz History Center, on Thursday, April 15, 2021, from 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm via Zoom as they invite scholars and archivists to discuss the strengths and limitations of historical records from state-run institutions to reflect the personal stories of institutionalized people with disabilities in Pennsylvania...[READ MORE]

Have you taken our survey?

Please take our survey about disability history if you haven't already done so. The Consortium serves as a clearinghouse for records and artifacts that tell the story of disability rights history and activism in Western Pennsylvania. 

If you know of such items or information, we'd like to add them to the listings on our website. If you need help preserving them, we can help with that too. 

Contact us at

Your contribution in any amount helps to make our work possible!

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