Paul Longmore (1946-2010) was one of the leading scholars of disability studies and one of only a small but growing cadre of historians studying disability. At the time of his death, he was Associate Professor of History at San Francisco State University, where he also served as Director of the newly-established Institute on Disability. Although Dr. Longmore was widely known in the disability community for his extensive publication and speaking on disability, his original specialty is in early American history. His book, The Invention of George Washington (University of California Press, 1988) studies Washington as a political actor and the conscious way in which he shaped his public image. In addition to early American history and disability history, Dr. Longmore taught courses in U.S. intellectual and cultural history and political theory.
San Francisco State University’s Institute on Disability is funded by the U.S. Department of Education. It has a multi-disciplinary objective. It aims to develop a more comprehensive disability studies curriculum, launch community service projects, and support disability-related research projects, including assistive technology that will have local, national, and international impact. Dr. Longmore brought considerable experience to his role as Director. From 1983 to 1986, he served as the administrator of the Program in Disability and Society at the University of Southern California, a pioneering disability-studies project.
Like many people with disabilities, Longmore originally distanced himself from issues of disability and disabled individuals. His interest in disability as an academic subject did not come until he neared completion of his Ph.D. in history from the Claremont Graduate School in 1984. Since then, however, Dr. Longmore published widely on the history of the disability rights movement and the representation of people with disabilities in the media. He was also a leading voice in advocating an academically-respected field of disability studies. Dr. Longmore’s expertise was been called upon by most major media outlets. He was the recipient of numerous awards, including an Andrew W. Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellowship in the Humanities, an H.B. Earhart Foundation Research Fellowship, and the Claremont Graduate School Alumni Award.
Paul Longmore gave a moving address at a commemoration of the 20th Anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Here it is: “San Francisco ADA 20th Anniversary”