Teaching Disability History

How the Civil War Changed Disability and American Government

Emerging America


The Civil War left more than 600,000 dead and half a million injured. An unprepared nation strained to nurse soldiers during the war and vastly expanded state and Federal services to aid veterans after. By 1900, the U.S. had paid pensions to nearly a million veterans, justified largely by their disabilities. These changes transformed America, spurring enormous growth in government and private services. The experience also profoundly sharpened attitudes toward people with disabilities, both sympathetic and fearful.

The morning portion of this event will detail the Civil War veterans unit: How the Civil War Transformed Disability. Teachers will experience primary source-based activities from the unit on disabled Civil War veterans and will explore the strategies and tools of inquiry-based instruction using primary sources. In the afternoon, we will showcase the entire K-12 Disability History curriculum and feature a lesson-writing workshop.

thumbnail image of Mass Humanities logoThis program is made possible by a grant from Mass Humanities, state-based affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, which provided funding through the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC).



Teachers; Grades K - 12.


10 PDPs will be awarded to teachers who participate in both morning and afternoon sessions, as well as join a free 7:00pm virtual talk by historian, Graham Warder: "Massachusetts and the Experience of Civil War Disability." Teachers must also complete a written reflection and text set.


Future training dates will be announced here. If you have questions or are interested in offering this training on-site, please contact us.


  • Rich Cairn

    Rich Cairn founded the Accessing Inquiry project of Emerging America, which focuses on inclusion of ALL learners in History, Civics, and Social Science classrooms, especially students with disabilities and English Learners. 

  • thumbnail image of Graham Warder

    Graham Warder is Associate Professor of History at Keene State College. He earned his B.A. in History from Dartmouth College and his Ph.D. in American Social and Cultural History from UMass Amherst. Since 1999, he has worked with the Disability History Museum, an online humanities resource providing primary sources and curriculum about the history of disability.

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A maximum class size is set for each course and registrations are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. If the number of registrations for a course exceeds the maximum seats available or is too low to be able to conduct a quality learning experience, CES will inform you of available options.

Course Cancellation

If you wish to cancel your registration, please submit a request in writing (via mail, email or fax) no later than 7 business days before the workshop’s start date. After that, there are no refunds or billing adjustments.

In the event that a course is cancelled by the Collaborative for Educational Services, we will notify you as soon as possible. Please be sure to provide your best email address and phone number so we can contact you. Although every effort is made to avoid last minute cancellations, if an emergency arises, we will do our best to reach you at the phone number and email address you provide. 

Inclement Weather

Any delays or cancellations are posted online at collaborative.org. You may also call 413.588.5979 after 6:30am for information about classes that day. Or for Early Childhood Professional Development information, please call 413.588.5570.