Gill Crawshaw: A Handsome Testimonial

Gill Crawshaw: A Handsome Testimonial
Library Shelf Location ZINE-C
Publication Date 2023

Once the industrial revolution began, the narrative that disabled people were unable to work or have a useful role, instead having to depend on the workhouse or on charity, took hold. This idea of disabled people as being dependent and needy continues to this day. But it’s certainly not the whole picture.

I’ve been researching the lives of disabled mill workers in the north of England, to tell a more complex story. Disabled people’s own accounts as well as reports of employers show that disabled and Deaf people were part of the textile workforce – and part of campaigns for factory reform.

A Handsome Testimonial is a zine structured around the life of James Scott, a Deaf mill worker in 19th century Yorkshire. It raises wider issues about attitudes towards Deaf and disabled people, today and in the past.

The disabled people’s movement rejects the idea that work is the only measure of contribution or worth. But we also need to challenge the erasure of disabled workers from history. Disabled people were not bystanders, but played their part in the UK’s leading industry: textile production. James Scott was one of many.

Thanks to Unlimited for funding the zine through their Wakefield micro-commissions.

Part of Leeds 2023 Year of Culture, Any work that wanted doing will be an exhibition of newly-commissioned work by disabled artists from West Yorkshire, made in response to my research. Their work will be displayed amongst the collection of textile machinery at Leeds Industrial Museum.

Download a free copy of the zine here:

Quantity 1
Format A5 Zine
Publisher Self-published
Related Artist Gill Crawshaw
Category Zine Collection (by appointment)
Keywords Disability, Disabled people's history, Equality, Industrial Era, collective history, textiles, hidden histories, Deaf community, Unions, Activism
Language English

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