Disability Studies

Kim E. Nielsen

Kim Nielsen

Chair, Distinguished University Professor, U.S. Disability History, Disability Law, Eugenics

Phone: 419-530-7254
University Hall 4390 B

MS 920
The University of Toledo
2801 W. Bancroft St.
Toledo, Ohio 43606-3390


United States disability history; disability law; gender; competency and citizenship; biography; madness; feminist theory; U.S. women’s history; U.S. legal history


1996 Ph.D. History, University of Iowa
1991 M.A., University of Iowa
1988 B.A., Macalester College
2012 – present Professor, The University of Toledo
2007 – 2012 Professor, University of Wisconsin, Green Bay
2003 – 2007 Associate Professor, University of Wisconsin, Green Bay
1998 – 2003 Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin, Green Bay


Helen Keller: Collected Writings. New York: Library of America, 2024, contracted.
Money, Marriage and Madness: The Life of Anna Ott. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2020.
The Oxford Handbook of Disability History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2018. With Michael Rembis and Catherine J. Kudlick. 

Winner of the 2021 Rosen Prize of the American Association for the History of Medicine. Winner of the 2019 Disability History Association Book Award.

A Disability History of the United States. Boston: Beacon Press, 2012.
Beyond the Miracle Worker: The Remarkable Life of Anne Sullivan Macy and Her Extraordinary Friendship with Helen Keller. Boston: Beacon Press, 2009.
Helen Keller: Selected Writings. New York University Press, 2005.
The Radical Lives of Helen Keller. New York University Press, 2004 (paperback 2009).
Un-American Womanhood: Antiradicalism, Antifeminism and the First Red Scare. Ohio State University Press, 2001.
With Michael Rembis, co-editor of the series Disability Histories (University of Illinois Press). This book series explores the lived experiences of individuals and groups from a broad range of societies, cultures, time periods, and geographic locations, who either identified as disabled or were considered by the dominant culture to be disabled.
Editorial Board member, Journal of Civil Rights Studies (University of Illinois Press)
Co-editor of Disability Studies Quarterly  2015-2018

“Not Returning to Normalized Injustice: Reflections on Teaching and Learning While Living the Pandemic,” Ohio Under Covid (University of Michigan Press, forthcoming).  

“Dr. Anna B. Ott, Patient #1763: The Messiness of Authority, Diagnosis, Gender, and Insanity in Nineteenth-Century America,” Signs 45/1 (Spring 2019): 27-49.

“Incompetent and Insane: Labor, Ability, and Citizenship in Nineteenth- and Early-Twentieth-Century United States,” Rethinking History 23/2 (2019): 175-188. 

“The Perils and Promises of Disability Biography,” in The Oxford Handbook of Disability History, eds. Michael Rembis, Catherine Kudlick, and Kim E. Nielsen (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018): 21-40.

With Susan Burch, “History,” in Keywords in Disability Studies, eds. Benjamin Reiss, Rachel Adams, David Serlin (New York: New York University Press, 2015): 95-98. 
“Disability and Labor Activism: The Pains and Joys of Coalitions,” in Dennis Deslippe, Eric Fure-Slocum, and John McKerley, eds., Civic Labors: Scholars, Teachers, Activists, and Working-Class History (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, forthcoming October 2016): 237-245.
“Property, Disability, and the Making of the Incompetent Citizen in the United States, 1880s–1940s,” ed. Susan Burch and Michael Rembis, Disability Histories (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2014): 308-320. 
“Historical Thinking and Disability History,” Disability Studies Quarterly 28/3 (July 2008).
“The Southern Ties of Helen Keller,” Journal of Southern History LXXIII, No. 4 (November 2007): 783-806. Winner of the 2007 A. Elizabeth Taylor Prize of the Southern Association of Women Historians for the best article in the field of southern women’s history.
“Was Helen Keller Deaf? Blindness, Deafness, and Multiple Identities,” in Susan Burch and Brenda Jo Brueggemann, eds., Double Visions: Multidisciplinary Approaches to Women and Deafness (Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press), 2006: 21-39.
“Doing the ‘Right’ Right,” Journal of Women’s History 16/3 (Autumn 2004): 168-172.
“What’s a Patriotic Man to do? Patriotic Masculinities of the Post-WWI Red Scare,” Men and Masculinities 6/3 (January 2004): 240-253.
“Helen Keller and the Politics of Civic Fitness.” Paul Longmore and Lauri Umansky, eds., The New Disability History: American Perspectives (New York: New York University Press, 2001): 268-290.
"Dangerous Iowa Women: Pacifism, Patriotism, and the Woman-Citizen in Sioux City, Iowa, 1920-1927," Annals of Iowa 56 (Winter/Spring 1997): 80-98.
"'We All Leaguers by Our House': Women, Suffrage, and Red-Baiting in the National Nonpartisan League," Journal of Women's History (Winter 1994): 31-50.
"Who Were These Farmer Radicals? The Douglas County Farm Holiday Association," Minnesota History 51/7 (Fall 1989): 270-280.


2022 Short-Term Visiting Fellowship, Harvard’s Houghton Library (originally 2020, postponed due to the pandemic)

2021 American Philosophical Society Franklin Research Grant

2021 University of Toledo Outstanding Faculty Research and Scholarship Award

2021 Deutsch Fellowship, Library Company of Philadelphia (originally 2020, postponed due to the pandemic)

2020 University of Toledo, University Research Fellowship Award

2019 Fulbright Specialist Award, University of Erfurt, Germany, May – July

2018 President’s Award for Outstanding Contributions in Scholarship and Creative Activity, University of Toledo

2018 Outstanding Teacher Award, University of Toledo

2016 Duke University's David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library History of Medicine travel grant

2013 — Friends of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries Research Grant-in-Aid recipient
2010–13 — Organization of American Historians, Distinguished Lecturer
2009 — Founders Association Award for Excellence in Scholarship
2007 — Winner of the Elizabeth Taylor Prize of the Southern Association of Women Historians for the best article in the field of southern women’s history.
2005 — Organization of American Historians/Japanese Association of American Studies Japanese Residency Award
2005 — National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Research Stipend
2005 — Founders Association Award for Teaching Excellence
2004 — UWGB Woman of the Year Award
1999 — Minnesota Historical Society Research Grant
1998 — Research Grant, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute
1998 — Fulbright Scholars Award, University of Iceland
Last Updated: 11/7/22