The National Archives Podcast Series

The National Archives

Government & Organizations, National

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Listen to talks, lectures and other events presented by The National Archives of the United Kingdom.


He is so silly he would rather have a half pence than a shilling: Discovering the history of learning disability

March 7th, 2014

Episode 342 of 474 episodes

Simon Jarrett explores the fascinating and little-known world of the history of people with learning disabilities, known variously over time as idiots, imbeciles, defectives and the mentally handicapped. Using court records, government files, parish records, prints, art and even jokes we can unearth a rich vein of often surprising information, reaching back to medieval times. Simon Jarrett is a Wellcome Trust doctoral researcher at Birkbeck, University of London, working on 'idiocy' in the eighteenth century. He is the author of Disability in time and place, an English Heritage web resource, and is writing a book on the same subject. You can see Hogarth's Marriage a-la-mode series on Wikipedia and photographs of Cell Barnes Hospital on the Out of Sight, Out of Mind? website This talk formed part of The National Archives' Diversity Week 2014.