Eleanor Smith PapersEleanor Smith Papers

Eleanor Smith Papers

Descriptive Summary

Title: Eleanor Smith Papers
Creator: Smith, Eleanor, 1943-
Dates: 1976-2014
Extent: 7.0 boxes (4.5 linear feet, 3.75 gigabytes, and 15 audiovisual items)
Collection Number: RBRL/357
Repository: Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies
Abstract: Eleanor Smith founded and directed Concrete Change, an Atlanta-based, national organization focused on establishing home construction practices that welcome people with disabilities. The papers document her work to create visitable homes, in a move towards universal basic access, as well as her activism across a wide range of disability rights and justice issues.

Collection Description

Biographical Note

Eleanor Smith founded and directed Concrete Change, an Atlanta-based, national organization focused on establishing home construction practices that welcome people with disabilities. The aim is to move away from the construction norm of steps at all entrances and narrow interior doors to a new, universal standard -- a zero-step entrance and wide doors in all new houses.

With the slogan “Every New Home Visit-able” and the informal catchphrase “Get in and pee,” Smith generated a grassroots movement across the United States and Canada, popularizing the term “Visitability” while pressing for policies. Strategies included education, street theater, and civil disobedience. At advocates’ strong prompting, the Atlanta Habitat for Humanity affiliate became the first organization in the United States to build every home with access. Through a nationwide direct action campaign in the late 1980’s, the Visitability network helped establish meaningful federal construction standards that mandate basic access in all new multi-family housing. In 1992, Smith wrote and helped pass the Atlanta ordinance, which was the first law in the U.S. requiring basic access in some private, single-family houses. She helped advocates in numerous locales across the country pass similar ordinances, with some municipalities eventually requiring basic access in every new house. By 2014, the movement had sparked the development of more than 80,000 Visitable houses. These home-access policies continue to generate new accessible houses year after year. The network has remained active after Smith’s 2013 retirement as advocates pursue new initiatives.

Smith received a Best Practices award from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, a Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service award from Emory University and an Advocacy Award from the American Public Health Association. She has presented on home-access policy at national conferences of the American Planning Association, the American Institute of Architects, and the Congress for the New Urbanism; testified to a U.S. Congressional committee; and given more than 200 other presentations. She co-authored a 2008 Visitability paper commissioned by the AARP Public Policy Institute and articles in Urban Land magazine and the Journal of the American Planning Association.

Besides her housing work, Smith was active nationally and locally with the national, direct-action organization, ADAPT (1987-2009). The group advocated first for disability access to public transportation. After achieving that goal, ADAPT focused on the right of people with disabilities to live at home with government support, rather than being forced into institutions by funding and policy biases.

Smith also has been active opposing legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia. She helped found the Atlanta organization Life Worthy of Life, which was active from 1989 to 2002, and shortly thereafter helped form the national organization Not Dead Yet. She provided Georgia leadership in the cases of Larry McAfee (1989), Andy and Randy Scott (2002), and Mae Magouirk (2005), and she participated in national Not Dead Yet actions. She travelled to Florida in 1997 to advocate that the Florida Supreme Court decline to permit physician-assisted suicide in the Charles Hall case, and in 2003 to participate in the effort to secure feeding and hydrating for Terri Schiavo.

Smith was born in 1943 into a family with several siblings, in a small central Illinois town surrounded by farms. She contracted a severe case of polio in 1946 during a sweeping national epidemic and has used a wheelchair since then. She earned an M.A. in American Literature from the University of Illinois in 1966, and taught at the elementary, high school and college levels in Kansas, Puerto Rico, Indiana and Georgia before becoming a full-time disability rights activist in 1988.

Source: Eleanor Smith

Scope and Content

The Eleanor Smith Papers document her work, both as director of Concrete Change and as an individual, to create visitable homes, in a move towards universal basic access, as well as her activism across a wide range of disability rights and justice issues, and include correspondence, clippings, flyers, photographs, audiovisual materials and items used as part of protests and actions.

Organization and Arrangement

The papers are arranged in four series: I. Concrete Change and Visitablity, II. Subject Files, III. Artifacts and Memorabilia, and IV. Audiovisual Materials.


Administrative Information and Restrictions

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Series I. Concrete Change and Visitability and Series II. Subject Files contain digital files. To access these files, please request the folders you would like through the finding aid using your research account. An archivist will be in contact with you to explain how to access the files. Please note that not all file formats are currently supported by the library for research use.

Reference copies of the audiovisual recordings in Series IV. Audiovisual Materials are available upon request. Research requests will be filled as soon as possible and will be dependent upon the condition of the recordings.

Preferred Citation

Eleanor Smith Papers, Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Georgia, 30602-1641.

Processing Note

Books and serials, including the magazines The Disability Rag, This Brain Has a Mouth, and its successor, Mouth, have been separated and cataloged individually.

Copyright Information

Before material from collections at the Richard B. Russell Library may be quoted in print, or otherwise reproduced, in whole or in part, in any publication, permission must be obtained from (1) the owner of the physical property, and (2) the holder of the copyright. It is the particular responsibility of the researcher to obtain both sets of permissions. Persons wishing to quote from materials in the Russell Library collection should consult the Director. Reproduction of any item must contain a complete citation to the original.

User Restrictions

Library acts as "fair use" reproduction agent.

Finding Aid Publication

Finding aid prepared by Mat Darby, 2015.


Related Materials

Access Points

Audiovisual.
Barrier-free design--United States.
People with disabilities--Georgia.
People with disabilities--Housing--United States.
Protest movements.
Right to die--Moral and ethical aspects.
Smith, Eleanor, 1943-

Related Collections in this Repository

Georgia Disability History Archive


Series Descriptions and Folder Listing

 

Series I. Concrete Change and Visitability

Extent: 2.0 boxes (1 linear foot)
Scope and Content: Series I. Concrete Change and Visitability documents Smith’s work, both as director of Concrete Change and as an individual, to improve home construction standards for people with disabilities and includes correspondence, clippings, flyers, brochures and photographs. Throughout the material is documentation of Concrete Change’s founding and growth as an organization; collaboration with ADAPT, the Disability Rights Action Coalition in Housing, and other activist and advocacy groups; actions aimed at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the National Association of Home Builders, and new housing projects, such as Atlanta’s Glenwood Park; and Smith’s participation in conferences focused on these issues. Also included is material related to the spread of visitability as a concept, both nationally and internationally, its relationship to universal design, and the organization’s critique of New Urbanist principles.
Conditions Governing Access note: This series contains digital files. To access these files, please request the folders you would like through the finding aid using your research account. An archivist will be in contact with you to explain how to access the files. Please note that not all file formats are currently supported by the library for research use.
BoxFolder
11Concrete Change: History and Actions [binder], 1987-2013
12Visitability: Other Locales [binder], 1994-2014
13Entryways [book by Eleanor Smith], 1991
14[Eleanor Smith Day Proclamation], 2003
15[Urban Land articles], 2004, 2009
Box
3Photograph: Atlanta Visitability ordinance houses [laminated enlargement], 1990s
Digital
ER 1Archiving Concrete Change -University of Georgia [digital files], 2009-2014
Scope and Contents note: About the history of Concrete Change.
Digital
ER 2Concrete Change Articles - Book [digital files], 1998-2014
Scope and Contents note: Drafts, research, and promotional materials for the children's book "Libby and the Cape of Visitability."
Digital
ER 3Housing Letter [digital files], 1993-2013
Scope and Contents note: Correspondence with builders and magazines about "dream homes" featured in articles that are not accessible for the mobility impaired, and correspondence about getting publicity for visibility and Concrete Change.
Housing Photographs [digital files]
Digital
ER 42008, Pulte Near Airport BAD [digital files], 2008
Digital
ER 5Actions-Articles [digital files], 2000-2010
Digital
ER 6Add-On Ramp [digital files], 2007-2009
Digital
ER 7Anne del B-Nikki F-Anne O [digital files], 2008-2011
Digital
ER 8APHA Dec 2010 [digital files], 2010
Digital
ER 9Arbitrary Stokeswood [digital files], 2005-2009
Digital
ER 10Atlanta Disability People Houses [digital files], 2008
Digital
ER 11Awards [digital files], 2001-2011
Digital
ER 12Bathrooms [digital files], 2003-2012
Digital
ER 13Bolingbrook Illinois [digital files], 2000-2004
Digital
ER 14[Brochures] [digital files], 2006-2014
Digital
ER 15City Ordinances [digital files], 2005-2008
Digital
ER 16Clifton near Memorial [digital files], 2007-2011
Digital
ER 17Cohousing Visitability [digital files], 2006
Digital
ER 18Decatur [digital files], 2004-2009
Digital
ER 19Dream House 2nd Ave BAD [digital files], 2007
Digital
ER 20East Lake Terr 3 Missed Opportunity [digital files], 2005
Digital
ER 21ELC No people [digital files], 2001-2012
Digital
ER 22ELC People [digital files], 2002-2012
Digital
ER 23Eleanor Headshots with T Shirt 11 [digital files], 2011-2013
Digital
ER 24Garage [digital files], 2005-2007
Digital
ER 25Glenwood-Swazey [digital files], 2007-2009
Digital
ER 26Graphics [digital files], 2005-2009
Digital
ER 27Habitat for Humanity [digital files], 2003-2009
Digital
ER 28Hedgewood debacle [digital files], 2004-2006
Digital
ER 29[Houses] [digital files], 2008-2011
Digital
ER 30HUD-AHA [digital files], 2000-2010
Digital
ER 31Katrina [digital files], 2006
Digital
ER 32Kids' Visitability Book [digital files], 2011-2014
Digital
ER 33Macon 06 [digital files], 2006
Digital
ER 34MLK Award 11 [digital files], 2011
Digital
ER 35Mobile Homes [digital files], 2011
Digital
ER 36Modern Access.jpg [digital files], 2007
Digital
ER 37New Urbanist [digital files], 2000-2010
Digital
ER 38Oakhurst [digital files], 2001-2011
Digital
ER 39Other Cities Ordinances [digital files], 2006-2011
Digital
ER 40Other Countries [digital files], 2006-2011
Digital
ER 41Other States [digital files], 2005-2011
Digital
ER 42Peachcrest [digital files], 2005-2007
Digital
ER 43[People] [digital files], 2008-2014
Digital
ER 44Princeton Pulte 11-05 [digital files], 2005
Digital
ER 45Renovations [digital files], 2007-2012
Digital
ER 46Research 06 [digital files], 2006
Digital
ER 47Retaining Walls [digital files], 2005-2006
Digital
ER 48Rex [digital files], 2004-2005
Digital
ER 49Sparks-Angels [digital files], 2006
Digital
ER 50Thresholds [digital files], 2001-2005
Digital
ER 51Townhouses & Alternatives [digital files], 2003-2011
Digital
ER 52TRASVINA Visit 12 [digital files], 2012
Digital
ER 53Utah Assist Handout [digital files], 2007
Digital
ER 54Web Picture Folders [digital files], 2004-2007
Digital
ER 55Wieland Atlanta BAD [digital files], 2008
Digital
ER 56Miscellaneous Disability [digital files], 2000-2014
Scope and Contents note: Correspondence, articles, and papers about housing, visitability, and the work of Concrete Change.
View an inventory of this folder online.
Digital
ER 57My Power Points [digital files], 2005-2014
Scope and Contents note: Slides for presentations by Eleanor Smith about the importance of visibility and how to design visitable homes.
View an inventory of this folder online.
Digital
ER 58Outlook Files [digital files], 2005-2014
 

Series II. Subject Files

Extent: 1.0 box (1 linear foot)
Scope and Content: Series II. Subject Files contains correspondence, clippings, legal documents, flyers, brochures and other material covering a wide range of issues effecting the disability community and traces Smith’s leadership and engagement within the wider disability community. Of note is material related to Smith's involvement with the case of Larry McAfee and the groups Not Dead Yet and Life Worthy of Life.
Conditions Governing Access note: This series contains digital files. To access these files, please request the folders you would like through the finding aid using your research account. An archivist will be in contact with you to explain how to access the files. Please note that not all file formats are currently supported by the library for research use.
BoxFolder
21ADAPT Actions, 1980s-1990s
22ADAPT Local, 1980s-1990s
23ADAPT Chicago '92, 1992
24Sexual abuse/battery of disabled, 1980s-1990s
25Devotees, Wannabes, Creeps, 1994-1995
26Earning Power, original magazine copy, 1980s-1990s
27Disability - Personal Notes and Old Articles [including Women's Basketball Team], 1976-1987
28Off Our Backs - El Article, 1980s
29Radical Survivors of Psychiatry, 1980s-1990s
210Deaf, 1980s
211Disability Community Organizing, 1980s-1990s
212Ableism [includes disability diary], 1980s
213African-American Disability Rights Group, Atlanta, 1987
214Dis-Positive or Objective, 1970s-1990s
215Pinup Girls, 1995-2005
216Disability: Psychological and Interpersonal, 1960s-1980s
217Disability: Miscellaneous Clippings, 1980s-1990s
218Life Worthy of Life, 1980s-1990s
219Larry McAfee, 1980s-1990s
220Not Dead Yet, 1990s
221Genocide/Suicide/Old/Disabled, 1980s-1990s
222Right to Die/Anti-Euthanasia Legislation, 1980s-1990s
223Baby Jane Doe/National on [Elizabeth] Bouvia, circa 1983
224Atlanta Jane Doe Georgia Died Naturally October 1991 and Others, 1980s-1990s
225Spina Bifida Babies, 1985-1990
226Food and Water and Air, 1990s
227Literature from Pro Right to Die Groups, 1990s
228Something Is Fishy in the Lifeboat [handout], 1992
229Euthanasia, Execution and Abortion, 1980s-1990s
230Suicide, 1980s-1990s
Digital
ER 59NDY [Not Dead Yet] - Genocide [digital files], 1999-2014
Scope and Contents note: Research and news stories related to assisted suicide and how it affects the disabled and elderly.
View an inventory of this folder online.
Digital
ER 60Other Disability Issues [digital files], 1995-2014
Scope and Contents note: Common subjects include the 25th anniversary of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), research about nursing homes and the rights of the elderly, experiences of and perceptions about people who use wheelchairs, and using Segways for mobility.
View an inventory of this folder online.
Politics [digital files]
Digital
ER 61Ableism [digital files], 1999-2014
Digital
ER 62Ageism [digital files], 2006-2014
Digital
ER 63Econ-Class [digital files], 2005-2014
Digital
ER 64Gender-Sexual Identity [digital files], 2006-2014
Digital
ER 65Higher Education [digital files], 2009-2013
Digital
ER 66Higher Ed Encroach [digital files], 2008-2012
Digital
ER 67Home School Murders [digital files], 2008-2013
Digital
ER 68[Politics] [digital files], 2002-2011
Digital
ER 69Race [digital files], 2006-2012
Digital
ER 70[Sexuality] [digital files], 2008-2013
Digital
ER 71[U.S. Politics] [digital files], 2003-2013
Research Needs [digital files]
Digital
ER 72[Health Care and Nursing Homes] [digital files], 2006
Digital
ER 73[Housing] [digital files], 2007-2009
Digital
ER 74Model Home Assess 08-09 [digital files], 2008-2011
Digital
ER 75Nary Visitability Research [digital files], 2009-2013
Scope and Contents note: Two interviews with people who use wheelchairs about visitability and information about the survey.
Digital
ER 76[Research Ideas] [digital files], 2009
Digital
ER 77Retrofit Pilot [digital files], 2011
Digital
ER 78Stan Research Q 06 [digital files], 2006-2013
Scope and Contents note: Research, drafts, and correspondence with Stanley Smith, University of Florida, for his paper "Aging and Disability: Implications for the Housing Industry and Housing Policy in the United States."
 

Series III. Artifacts and Memorabilia

Extent: 5.0 boxes (2.5 linear feet)
Scope and Content: Series III. Artifacts and Memorabilia contains items used by Smith in a number of actions in support of visitability and other issues as well as items promoting Concrete Change and ADAPT.
Box
3Concrete Change "Basic Access to Every New Home" promotional fans, 1990s
3Button: Create Visit-able Homes [used to lobby for the HB 514 Visitability bill at the Georgia State Capitol], 1990s
3Handcuffs [used in civil disobedience actions], 1990s
Box
4ADAPT shirt awarded to Eleanor Smith, 2000s
4Not Dead Yet hat, undated
4Concrete Change T-shirt, undated
Box
5ADAPT poster [features illustrations of prominent disability rights activists], circa 1995
Box
6Balloon: "Welcome (If Not Disabled)" [used in Glenwood Park housing grand opening action], 2005
Box
7Banner: "Access to Every New Home! Concrete Change!", circa 2010
 

Series IV. Audiovisual Materials

Extent: 15.0 item
Scope and Content: Series IV. Audiovisual Materials includes video of Smith and other activists discussing visitability, anti-euthanasia and right-to-die, and other issues on news and public affairs shows, programs produced by Concrete Change and other groups, and documentation of actions and meetings, notably with HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros.
Conditions Governing Access note: Reference copies of the audiovisual recordings are available upon request. Research requests will be filled as soon as possible and will be dependent upon the condition of the recordings.
item
UC RBRL/357/VHS0001Strong, United and Proud by Pamela Walker, undated
Extent: 1.0 moving image
item
UC RBRL/357/VHS0002Actions Tape by Gail Love: local Greyhound arrest; getting parking ticket ability, ADAPT home movies, etc., undated
Extent: 1.0 moving image
item
UC RBRL/357/VHS0003Access-ability and Visit-ability, Bolingbrook Community Television, 2002 January 2
Extent: 1.0 moving image
item
UC RBRL/357/VHS0004Visitability: HUD Teleconference/[HUD Secretary Henry] Cisneros speech, 1996 June 10
Extent: 1.0 moving image
item
UC RBRL/357/VHS0005Choices and Rights by Johnny Crescendo, undated
Extent: 1.0 moving image
item
UC RBRL/357/VHS0006With Liberty and Access for All, 1991
Extent: 1.0 moving image
item
UC RBRL/357/VHS0007Not Dead Yet: Griffin TV coverage, 2002 August 12
Extent: 1.0 moving image
item
UC RBRL/357/VHS0008Stinky CNN Fair Housing Piece, 1990 March
Extent: 1.0 moving image
item
UC RBRL/357/VHS0009Concrete Change and ADAPT at Habitat Americus, 1996
Extent: 1.0 moving image
item
UC RBRL/357/VHS0010Bill Hall and Cheryl Sommerville on the Larry King Show, undated
Extent: 1.0 moving image
item
UC RBRL/357/VHS0011Concrete Change at Atlanta Apartment Association, 1991 July 15
Extent: 1.0 moving image
item
UC RBRL/357/VHS0012Eleanor Smith on Nightline re Larry McAfee Case – Not Dead Yet, undated
Extent: 1.0 moving image
item
UC RBRL/357/VHS0013McNiel Lehrer Not Dead Yet
Extent: 1.0 moving image
item
UC RBRL/357/VHS0014Concrete Change: Building Better Neighborhoods, undated
Extent: 1.0 moving image
item
UC RBRL/357/DVD0001Entryways: Creating Attractive, Low-Cost Zero-Step Entrances [created by Concrete Change and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs], 2005
Extent: 1.0 moving image