The instrumental role Dorothea Dix played in reforming prisons and mental institutions, and the actions of Horace Mann in his campaign for free public education are at the center of this lesson. How did improvements in conditions for people in the public charge, whether prisoners or people institutionalized because of disability, come about? How did the the idea of who gets to be educated change? By focusing attention on the strategies used by these social reformers, the lesson engages students in critical thinking about the methods of reformers as well as their goals.
Care for veterans is relevant to understanding war and the role of government, and is critical to disability history. In this lesson, students gather information through a variety of primary sources on the experiences of veterans from the War of Independence through today. They ask, ‘How has U.S. government care for veterans changed over time?’ Using their evidence, students develop a proposal to today’s Veterans Administration that outlines how veterans should be cared for.