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To: all members of the Disability Research mailing list
From: Tom Gill

Dear all,

    I was deeply moved by the strength of the response from the list to my call for help in processing Keith Armstrong's papers. Many thanks to all who wrote to me offering help or suggesting places to try.

     Since it was obviously not realistic to resolve the issue this very weekend, I decided to put the papers into short-term storage to buy time while we decide the best course. The papers are in 12 large cardboard boxes and 4 smaller ones in a storage unit in Camden town. I have paid for 8 weeks' storage, up to September 15. I hope we will be able to find a good home or homes for the papers by then.

      I will be creating a small mailing group for the people who expressed interest in the collection, so that we can decide things such as whether the papers should all go to the same place or should be divided up between several researchers. If anyone else is interested in the collection, please let me know n the next couple of days.

     The papers consist of:

* Minutes of committee meetings Keith attended, relating to disability issues in 
London -- principally Ealing and Camden, but I saw some stuff from Hounslow and Lambeth too.
* Correspondence between Keith and various bureaucratic bodies -- housing offices, welfare offices, London Transport etc., some referring to his own personal welfare needs, some to broader issues he was campaigning in.
* Numerous government reports, working party reports, campaigning leaflets etc. referring in some way to disabilities issues, mostly in London, plus some items from other towns in Britain and abroad.
* Various books and magazines on disability issues.
* Copies of Keith's academic papers, most of which may also be viewed online on his page at Academia.edu
* A certain amount of less relevant stuff that got into the boxes in the struggle to fill them and store them before the storage center closed for the night.

     I look forward to hearing from any other interested parties, and to working with list members on processing this small archive.

     Once again, many thanks for all the offers of help.

Sincerely,

Tom Gill


Il 14/07/2017 14:16, Tom Gill ha scritto:
To: all members of the Disability Research mailing list
From: Tom Gill

Dear all,

   I am an old friend of the late Keith Armstrong, a London-based wheelchair-bound polio-sufferer who spent a lifetime campaigning for the rights of people with disabilities. Keith sadly died on May 7, and a few of his old friends have been engaged in clearing out his incredibly cluttered flat in Euston prior to returning it to the council. We have nearly finished this massive job, but there are still mountains of files left with thousands of documents from Keith's campaigning career. The documents cover the period from about 1975 to about the present. He served on various committees, advising London Transport and various boroughs on accessible transport for people with disabilities. He made study trips abroad, including one to America. The files include minutes of committee meetings, correspondence between Keith and various government officials, transports companies, unions, etc, etc.

  The NDACA (http://www.ndaca.org.uk/) has already been to the flat and taken away materials relating to Keith's artistic and musical work, but they were not really interested in his career in disability politics. The sad fact of the matter is that Keith's files are going to end up in a Camden Council skip unless somebody rescues them at the very last moment -- which is now.

  These papers would be of interest to anyone writing an academic paper about disability politics in London c.1975-2015, especially regarding accessible transport policy. Is there a dynamic researcher out there who wants to take some of these papers?

  Time is very, very short. (Sorry, I should have thought of this earlier.) If you think you might be interested in viewing/having the papers, please contact me right away. My e-mail address is tpgill [AT] yahoo.com and my mobile phone number is 0772-101-6225.

  Please distribute widely.

Sincerely,

Tom Gill

PS For those who are interested, I append a short obituary of Keith Armstrong.

Keith Armstrong, an old friend of mine who has died of cancer at the age of 67, was a dynamic activist for the rights of people with disabilities, He contracted polio in South Africa during his infancy, and was wheelchair-bound for most of his life, enduring constant pain and occasional hospitalization throughout his life. After spells of homelessness and squatting in early ‘70s London, he acquired a council flat in Euston that became a powerhouse of radical activism. Hundreds of activists passed through Keith’s smoky, book-crammed flat, many of them working as helpers for Keith, and he left his mark on all of them. He attended countless demonstrations, for CND, housing rights and against the government of the day as well as those demanding disability rights, and was arrested more than once.
   Suppressing a strong distrust of government, he became an advisor to several London boroughs, and to London Transport, on issues of access to public transport for people with disabilities. He served on countless committees. Some say Keith coined the phrase “people with disabilities”, replacing “disabled people” or “the disabled”, to stress that people were not defined solely by their disabilities. Keith and his comrades played a large part in making buses, trains, taxis and buildings more accessible to people with every kind of disability.
    Keith was also an extremely creative individual. He launched his own international poetry magazine, The Informer, at the age of 16, and worked as an artist, musician, poet and record producer. His works of concrete poetry and typewriter art are in all the best anthologies. He was also an independent scholar who extensively researched the history and linguistics of disability, with a particular interest in the disability-carrying Roman emperor Claudius. His papers, available at academia.edu, are widely read.
    Keith did not suffer fools gladly, and would sharply rebuke anyone who lacked understanding of disability politics. But he also enjoyed a laugh, often at his own expense, and was unfailingly kind and generous to anyone who needed help, especially fellow people with disabilities. He saved many people from homelessness by letting them stay at his flat for days, months or even years. His influence extended via a massive personal network through the progressive circles of London and far beyond.
    Keith never married or had children. He is survived by his brother Christopher and his sister Angela.

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