I’ll Return Bye and Bye. By a One Legged Soldier. United States, ca. 1900. Gift of George Allen.
Disability and poverty have long been closely tied. A few of the disabled poor of the 19th century were able to raise funds through the publication of autobiographical texts. Others were supported in their attempts at self-sufficiency through the sale of printed sheets of poetry or songs, with authorship occasionally attributed to the mendicant himself. A colorful, illustrated example of this can be seen in “What Is Ephemera?” Another is seen here in the form of a poem written by a crippled veteran. Whether this is the same “disabled soldier” who was distributing the sheet is, perhaps intentionally, left unclear.