This project researches how the social and scientific framing of disabled citizens' bodies shaped New Dealers' efforts to relieve the suffering wrought by the Great Depression and effect long-term economic security. The New Deal propelled momentous state growth and transformed Americans' expectations of the federal government. This research aims to uncover how perceptions of ability, inability, and disability guided that growth. It analyzes ideas about disability and policy, while investigating and centering the actual experiences of disabled Americans who increasingly became the objects of policy meant to correct, contain, understand, and erase a central element of their identity. Disabled people often suffered extreme poverty during the Depression as economic constriction allowed employers to further narrow the physical qualifications for work, but physicians and social scientists presented conflicting ideas about how best to address disability. Most of the policy responses New Dealers developed made disabled people the objects of care and study, while disabled people themselves often sought opportunities for work. This focus on disability created new avenues for the federal government to provide medical care and for physicians, healthcare workers, and a broad range of scientists and social scientists to influence policy. <br/><br/>Many of the policies New Dealers developed to address disability, and the ideas that informed them, continue to shape the lives of disabled Americans. While refined and expanded over time, the fundamental systems New Dealers imagined, created, and implemented to deal with disability remain. Much of the inaccessibility of the U.S. economy and society – policies, unmet needs, and underlying ideas that contributed to disabled people's economic and social marginalization – also remains. These ideas and systems shape the inequality disabled Americans continue to experience: disabled Americans earn significantly less than their non-disabled peers and are more than twice as likely to live in poverty. Moreover, disabled Americans are significantly less likely to have completed high school or college than non-disabled adults. Today, at roughly 19 percent of the population, disabled Americans constitute the largest U.S. minority group, and the only minority group that anyone could potentially join at any point. This research seeks to understand how and why these systems were put in place, knowledge that will help in improving the existing systems or developing new ones that will facilitate better economic inclusion for people with disabilities. Drawing on extensive archival and government documents, this project aims to bring the disability history of the New Deal into the public sphere to inform and contextualize significant, contemporary debates and help to illuminate useful paths forward by making the path we have already traveled clear. The New Deal forged the modern U.S. state's relationship with its largest minority group. Only by engaging with the New Deal's ongoing legacies can the United States create policy that fulfills the New Deal promise of economic security.<br/><br/>This project is jointly funded by STS and the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR).<br/><br/>This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.