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Guide to the Edward V. Roberts Papers, 1975-1998
BANC MSS 99/34 cz  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content of Collection

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: Edward V. Roberts Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1975-1998
    Collection Number: BANC MSS 99/34 cz
    Creator: Roberts, Edward V., 1939-1995
    Extent: 11 cartons, 1 oversize box 14.15 linear feet 9 digital objects
    Repository: The Bancroft Library
    Berkeley, California 94720-6000
    Abstract: The Edward V. Roberts Papers, 1953-1998 [bulk 1975-1995], consist of writings, professional activities, subject files, and biographical information documenting Roberts's leading role in the movements for disability rights and independent living. The majority of the material is about Roberts's professional and political activities; there is limited information on his personal life. The records include information about Roberts's tenure as the director of the California Dept. of Rehabilitation, and his involvement in the World Institute on Disability (WID) and Disabled Persons International (DPI). The collection contains Roberts's speeches, appearances, testimonies, and records of travel throughout the United States and the world as an outspoken activist for the rights of disabled people.
    Languages Represented: English

    Information for Researchers

    Access

    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has been assigned to The Bancroft Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the appropriate curator or the Head of Public Services for forwarding. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library as the owner of the physical items and the copyright.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Edward V. Roberts Papers, BANC MSS 99/34 cz, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Related Collections

    Edward V. Roberts, "The UC Berkeley Years: First Student Resident at Cowell Hospital, 1962," an oral history conducted in 1994 by Susan O'Hara in University of California's Cowell Hospital Residence program for Physically Disabled Students, 1962-1975: Catalyst for Berkeley's Independent Living Movement, Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 2000. BANC MSS 2001/60 c
    University of California's Cowell Hospital Residence Program for Physically Disabled Students, 1962-1975: Catalyst for Berkeley's Independent Living Movement, an oral history conducted in 1994, 1996, and 1998-1999, Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 2000. BANC MSS 2001/43 c
    Zona Roberts, "Counselor for Physically Disabled Students' Program, Mother to Ed Roberts," an oral history conducted in 1994-1995 by Susan O'Hara, Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 2000. BANC MSS 2001/38 c
    Joan Leon, "Administrator at Berkeley's Center for Independent Living and the California Department of Rehabilitation, Cofounder of the World Institute on Disability," an oral history conducted in 1998 by Susan O'Hara, Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 2000. BANC MSS 2001/41 c
    Mary Lester, "Builders and Sustainers of the Independent Living Movement in Berkeley, Volume I" an oral history conducted in 2000 by Susan O'Hara, Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 2000. BANC MSS 2001/41 c

    Administrative Information

    Acquisition Information

    The Edward V. Roberts Papers were given to The Bancroft Library by Roberts's mother, Zona Roberts, and accessioned with the records donated by the World Institute on Disability.

    Biography

    Edward V. Roberts, 1939-1995, contracted poliomyelitis in 1953 at the age of 14. Surviving the disease, he became a quadriplegic, requiring the use of a respirator (called an iron lung) Roberts taught himself how to swallow air in order to survive outside his iron lung and began to attend classes at Burlingame High School once a week as a senior.
    After attending the College of San Mateo, Roberts became the first severely disabled student to live on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley in 1962. To accommodate his respirator, Roberts lived in a ward of Cowell Hospital, the on-campus health center. He relied on a personal attendant during the day. As Roberts completed his BA and MA in political science, he became politically active, promoting disabled people's rights and the independent living movement.
    In 1970, Roberts helped found the Physically Disabled Students Program (PDSP), later known as the Disabled Students Program (DSP) at Berkeley to assist disabled students. The program then expanded into the Berkeley community as the Center for Independent Living (CIL) in 1972. Roberts served as Executive Director of the CIL from 1973 to 1975. CIL became the national model for a community-based self-help program directed by people with disabilities for people with disabilities.
    Roberts was appointed director of the California Department of Rehabilitation in 1975, serving until 1983. As director, Roberts pioneered in the areas of employment and rehabilitation services for people with severe disabilities, anti-discrimination legislation on the state and national level, and independent living program legislation.
    Roberts married Catherine Dugan in 1976. They had a son, Lee, in 1978. Though Roberts and his wife later divorced, Roberts shared custody of his son.
    In 1983 Roberts co-founded the World Institute on Disability (WID) in Oakland, California, serving as president until his death in 1995. WID was the first non-profit organization in the world dedicated to the development and advancement of a unified body of public policy on disability issues and public awareness of disability. Roberts was named a MacArthur Fellow in 1984, and used the fellowship funds to found WID.
    Roberts was also involved with Disabled Peoples International (DPI) and served on many disability and civil rights organizations, committees and advisory boards. He was an avid public speaker, appearing all over the United States and throughout the world.
    Roberts died of a heart attack in 1995, and is remembered as a pioneering activist for the rights of people with disabilities.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Edward V. Roberts Papers, 1953-1998 [bulk 1975-1995], consist of writings, professional activities, subject files, and biographical information documenting Roberts's leading role in the movements for disability rights and independent living. The majority of the material is about Roberts's professional and political activities; there is limited information on his personal life. The records include information about Roberts's tenure as the director of the California Dept. of Rehabilitation, and his involvement in the World Institute on Disability (WID) and Disabled Persons International (DPI). The collection contains Roberts's speeches, appearances, testimonies, and records of travel throughout the United States and the world as an outspoken activist for the rights of people with disabilities.
    Roberts's writings include articles and drafts or transcripts of speeches written throughout his career to promote disability rights and the independent living movement. Several instances of Roberts's expert testimony in front of federal and state Congressional committee hearings on disability rights, independent living, and the impact of budget cuts on the disabled community are also included in the collection.
    The records documenting Roberts's professional activities demonstrate Roberts's growth as a leader, and how he became one of the nation's pre-eminent disability rights activists. Because Roberts was a charismatic leader on disability rights, he was often appointed to advisory boards or committees for civil rights and disability organizations. Roberts was also an avid public speaker. The collection contains information on his remarkable travel throughout the United States and all over the world for conferences, meetings, and public appearances. Roberts's wide involvement in many aspects of disability rights, civil rights, and independent living issues are amply documented in his extensive subject files.
    The biographical information shows Roberts's dedication to disability rights awareness from his curriculum vitae, calendars describing his busy public appearance schedule, awards, memorials, posthumous tributes, and collected press clippings. The material shows little of the private man, with the exception of Roberts's own case history file.
    Researchers interested in the history of the disability rights and independent living movements will discover Roberts's papers full of material on his involvement with policy creation and organizations throughout the world.