Daniel J. Wilson, PhD (1949-2021)

In June of 2021, the post-polio community lost a dedicated advocate for polio survivors, Daniel J. Wilson, PhD. Dan joined PHI’s board in 2006 and served in various roles, most recently as Board President from November of 2020 until his death this past June. He was Professor of History Emeritus at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where he taught from 1978 to 2018 specializing in the history of medicine and history of disability.

Dan also served on both the board of the Lehigh Valley Center for Independent Living, including two terms as president, and on the board of the Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital. He was a longtime member and newsletter editor for the Lehigh Valley Post Polio Support Group before it disbanded about ten years ago.

“He not only had an extensive list of achievements, honors and recognition for his work, but he was generous with his time and energy to benefit others,” remarks fellow board member Carol Vandenakker-Albanese, MD. “The loss of his leadership, well-informed perspective and wisdom will be greatly missed.”

Below is a sampling of Dan’s prolific work on behalf of polio survivors.

Recent Interviews
“A look into the history of mandatory vaccines.” WLS-AM 890 in Chicago.

“How Polio Research is Helping in the Hunt for a Vaccine.  Wall Street Journal podcast, The Future of Everything.

“How will COVID-19 change the future? Look to history.” Salon.

“Passion, Patience, and Perseverance: Comparing the Polio Health Crisis to the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Presented by the Doylestown Bookshop and the Doylestown Rotary (Rotary District 7430), featuring Daniel Wilson, Rotary International’s Mike McGovern and Shawn Herron.

Living With Polio: The Epidemic and Its Survivors. University of Chicago Press, 2007

Polio (Biographies of Disease), Greenwood Press, 2009.

Polio Voices: An Oral History from the American Polio Epidemics and Worldwide Eradication Efforts. Eds. Daniel J. Wilson and Julie K. Silver. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2007.

“Passing in the Shadow of FDR: Polio Survivors, Passing, and the Negotiation of Disability” in Disability and Passing: Blurring the Lines of Identity. Eds. Daniel J. Wilson and Jeffrey A. Brune. Temple University Press, 2013.

“Comparing the Polio and Coronavirus Epidemics.” Post-Polio Health, Vol 36, No 2 (Spring 2020).

“Psychological Trauma and Its Treatment in the Polio Epidemics.”  Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 82 (2008), 848-877.

“Braces, Wheelchairs, and Iron Lungs: The Paralyzed Body and the Machinery of Rehabilitation in the Polio Epidemics.” The Journal of Medical Humanities, 26 (Fall 2005), 173-190.

“A Crippling Fear: Experiencing Polio in the Era of FDR.” Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 72 (Fall 1998), pp. 464-495.

“Covenants of Work and Grace: Themes of Recovery and Redemption in Polio Narratives.” Literature and Medicine, 13 (1994), pp. 22-41.

“Basil O’Connor, the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis and the Reorganization of Polio Research in the United States, 1935-41.” Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences. 2015 Jul;70(3):394-424.