University of Nebraska Medical Center

New exhibit: Finding a Voice: Poetry, Prose, and Stories of Neurodiversity

By Erin Torell 

A new exhibit is open on Level 8 of the Leon S. McGoogan Health Sciences Library. “Finding a Voice: Poetry, Prose, and Stories of Neurodiversity from the Wolfensberger Collection” showcases three books from the Wolf P. Wolfensberger, PhD, collection held in the library’s Robert S. Wigton Department of Special Collections and Archives:  

  • Gretchen Josephson, born in Denver, Colorado (1954-2017) used poetry to interact with the world around her and to deal with events, people, and issues in her life. She did not let Down syndrome or society’s expectations about those with Down syndrome stop her from sharing her voice through poetry in her book Bus Girl: Poems by Gretchen Josephson (1997). 
  • Poet Robert (Bob) Williams devoted his life to political activism to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities. Born with cerebral palsy, Williams held several positions in state and federal government and in the private sector. In A Struggling Voice: The Selected Poems of Robert Williams (1989), gave Williams an opportunity to advocate, through poetry, for those with disabilities to express their observations of the world. 
  • Know Me As I Am: An Anthology of Prose, Poetry and Art by People With Learning Difficulties, edited by Dorothy Atkinson and Fiona Williams (1990), contains many autobiographical interviews, narratives handwritten and typed, poetry, and artwork from individuals with a variety of disabilities. The works cover issues of the self, memories, relationships, transitions, creativity and imagination, daily life, experiences of oppression, struggles, and self-determination.  

Dr. Wolfensberger (1934-2011) concentrated his life on psychiatry and community advocacy for individuals with mental and physical disabilities. From 1964-1971, he worked at the Nebraska Psychiatric Institute (NPI) at UNMC. He dedicated his work to the principle of normalization, which advocates for the integration of persons with disabilities into the larger societal community. Wolfensberger also developed community-based support programs. The McGoogan Library’s Robert S. Wigton Department of Special Collections and Archives holds his collection of books, research, teaching materials, and artifacts.  https://www.unmc.edu/library/special-collections/archives.html 

Access the exhibit in the elevator lobby on Level 8 of the McGoogan Health Sciences Library through September 18, 2023. 

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