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Penny L. Richards <email@example.com>
UCLA Center for the Study of Women
History of disability and special education; nineteenth-century families and disability; Mary Austin, Celia Thaxter, Victoria Woodhull, and Margaret Fuller; the "good widow with an idiot son" in nineteenth-century popular fiction; disability and immigration history; 19th-c. women and map use; married-women-teacher bans; feminist research methodologies; public history, independent scholarship, social media, digital humanities
President, Disability History Association (2009-2014)
I currently edit the "Education History Articles in Current Periodicals" feature on H-Education; and the "Disability History Articles in Current Periodicals" feature on H-Disability.
|List Affiliations:||List Editor for H-Disability
List Editor for H-Education
|Interests:||American History / Studies
Childhood and Education
Research and Methodology
Women, Gender, and Sexuality
PhD, 1996, UNC-Chapel Hill, Education
MS, 1990, UW-Madison, Geography
BS, 1988, Penn State, Geography
Most recent conference presentations:
"Marion Brown and the Mordecai Female Academy: Unfolding Women's History Projects in Blog Format," UCSB Literature.Culture.Media Research Slam, May 2010
"But What Did Everyone Else Say?: The 'Common Quotes' Feature of the Encyclopedia of Disability History," Society for Disability Studies, June 2009
"The Kinswoman under my Desk: Marion Brown and the Project of Writing a Family," Disability History Conference, July-August 2008
"The Spinster in the Attic: Retrieving Disabled Women's Histories from Private Collections," Berkshire Conference of Women Historians, June 2008
"The Letters of Marion Brown: Finding Disability History in Transnational Family Correspondence," plenary paper, Society for Disability Studies, May 2007
"'Her Attention Wandered Back to the Map': Mary Hunter Austin's Cartographic Adventures," Association of American Geographers, April 2007
"The Pure, the Delicate, and the Disturbed: Reading Developmental Disability in 19c. Family Sources," American Historical Association, January 2005
"'The Extraordinary Liberality of My Husband's Mind': Mary Austin and the 'Queerness' of the Married Woman Teacher," American Educational Research Association, April 2004
"White Wisdom? Teachers and Education in Mary Austin's Western Stories," Social Science History Association, November 2003
"Women's Cartographic Comforts in the 19th-Century South," Association of American Geographers, March 2002
"'He Well Deserves All our Affection': Accepting and Accommodating Mental Retardation in a North Carolina Planter Family," Southern Historical Association, November 1999
Recent book chapters:
“Online Museums, Exhibits, and Archives of American Disability History,” in Susan Koppelman and Alison Franks, eds., Collecting and the Internet: Old Passions, New Technologies (McFarland 2008).
"Knitting the Transatlantic Bond: One Woman's Letters to America, 1860-1910," in Dallen Timothy and Jeanne Kay Guelke, eds., Geography and Genealogy: Locating Personal Pasts (Ashgate 2008).
"'Beside her Sat her Idiot Child': Families and Developmental Disability in mid-Nineteenth-Century America," in Steven Noll and James W. Trent, eds., Mental Retardation in America: A Historical Reader (NYU Press 2004).
"Bad Blood and Lost Borders: Eugenic Ambivalence in Mary Austin's Short Fiction," in Lois A. Cuddy and Claire Roche, eds., Evolution and Eugenics in American Literature and Culture: Essays on Ideological Conflict and Complicity (Bucknell University Press 2003).
(with Emily Bingham), "The Female Academy and Beyond: Three Mordecai Sisters at Work in the Old South," in Susanna Delfino and Michele Gillespie, eds., Neither Lady Nor Slave: Working Women of the Old South (UNC Press 2002).
“Disability History Online,” OAH Magazine of History 23(3)(2009): 45-48.
“Online Museums, Exhibits, and Archives of American Disability History: A Review,” Public Historian 2(7)(2005): 91-100.
"'Could I but Mark Out my Own Map of Life': Educated Women Embracing Cartography in the Nineteenth-Century American South," Cartographica 39(3)(Fall 2004): 1-17.
"Points of Entry: Disability and the Historical Geography of Immigration," Disability Studies Quarterly 24(3)(Summer 2004): available online at
(with George HS Singer)"'To Draw out the Effort of His Mind': Educating a Child with Mental Retardation in Early Nineteenth Century America," Journal of Special Education, 31(4)(Winter 1998): 443-466.
Book: Adkins, Awsumb, Noblit, and Richards, eds. Working Together: Grounded Perspectives on Interagency Collaboration (Hampton Press: Cresskill NJ 1999).
Editorial board and major contributor, Encyclopedia of American Disability History (Facts on File, 2009)
Course Taught: History of Disability in the US (Fall 2007, Gallaudet University, history department, online); History of Disability (Fall 1997, UC-Santa Barbara, Graduate School of Education)
Board member (at-large), Disability History Association, 2004-present
Co-chair, Huntington Women's Studies Seminars steering committee, 2005-2006