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Jenifer Barclay

Associate Professor of History
University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences


Disability history; disability, race, gender, class and sexuality; intersectionality; ableism; African American history; history of slavery, emancipation and the U.S. Civil War

Portrait of Jenifer Barclay, University at Buffalo disability history and African American history expert.

Jenifer Barclay is an expert on the history of disability as it intersects with the history of race, gender, class and sexuality, especially in the era before, during and after the U.S. Civil War.

Barclay’s research places African American history into conversation with the “new” disability history, a field that emphasizes disability as a lived human experience embedded in a set of socially constructed ideas that change over time, across cultures and in relation to other categories of identity.

Her first book, “The Mark of Slavery: Disability, Race and Gender in Antebellum America,” centers on the lives of enslaved people with physical, sensory and psychological disabilities, and the metaphorical, ontological links that antebellum Americans forged between race, gender and disability in the turbulent decades leading up to the Civil War. Her second book project, “Between Two Worlds: Disability and Segregation in Southern Education from Emancipation to Integration,” maintains a similar focus on the intersections of race, disability and gender, but pivots toward education in the post-emancipation years.

Barclay’s work highlights stories and experiences that have often been overlooked, such as the role that Black women played in building educational programs and spaces for freedpeople with disabilities, and the role of enslaved people who lived with disabilities as caregivers, healers and keepers of memories in their communities.


Jenifer Barclay, PhD
Associate Professor of History
University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences