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Jul 1, 2024

July 1990 marked the passing of a landmark piece of federal legislation, the Americans with Disabilities Act, known as the ADA. To recognize this event and to celebrate Disability Pride Month, we are uncovering the legacy of disability rights leader, Phyllis Zlotnick (1942-2011). Zlotnick was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at birth. Beginning in the 1970's, Phyllis recognized she was being “shut out” of society, a phrase she used in her writings and public testimonies at the Connecticut State Capitol.  She dedicated her life to claiming the right to participate in public life.  Executive Producer Mary Donohue spoke to author Arianna Basche about the challenges Zlotnick faced in her early life, her influence on Connecticut's accessibility policies, and her involvement in the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Basche is the Ad Manager for Connecticut Explored magazine and is a historian and museum educator.  Her feature story on Zlotnick will be published in the Fall 2024 issue of Connecticut Explored magazine.


Warning for listeners - this episode contains some words that are not used now to describe members of the disabled community such as handicapped.  These are taken from historic sources such as period newspaper stories or written first-hand accounts.


 Zlotnick’s papers are held in the Special Collections Archive at the University of Connecticut. For more information, go to:


Photo credit: Phyllis Zlotnick papers, Special Collections Archives, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut.


Subscribe to Connecticut Explored today to receive the fall issue with Zlotnick’s story- get your subscription delivered in print to your mailbox or digitally to your inbox. Subscribe at:



Historic preservationist Frederic Palmer named his East Haddam house and the 50 acres it occupies “Dunstaffnage,” after a castle with the same name in Scotland. The prefix "dun" means "fort" in Gaelic, which perfectly captures the sense of protected sanctuary Frederic created for his LGBTQ friends, neighbors, and family to gather and live unhindered by societal norms. On July 13th, Connecticut Landmarks is excited to celebrate Scottish culture with the first ever Mid-Summer Pipes & Cider event on the grounds of Frederic Palmer's Dunstaffnage. Sip cider and connect with Scotland during a trail walk around the beautiful Palmer-Warner grounds led by Coreyanne Armstrong and Portland & District Pipers. Enjoy local cider tastings from Yankee Cider Co. including a signature “Dunstaffnage” bourbon that will transport you to the Scottish Moors through hints of Highland peat smoke. Bring your friends to test your knowledge in a round of Celtic-themed pub trivia, with prizes for first- and second-place teams. The bourbon is aging, and the pipers are practicing! For tickets, please visit



Grating the Nutmeg brings you top-flight historians, compelling first-person stories, and new voices in Connecticut history. Your donation will ensure that Executive Producers Mary Donohue and Natalie Belanger can bring you a fresh episode at no cost every two weeks!  Donate here:


This episode of Grating the Nutmeg was produced by Mary Donohue and engineered by Patrick O’Sullivan at   Follow GTN on our Facebook, Instagram and Threads pages.


This is Mary Donohue for Grating the Nutmeg. Follow me on my Facebook and Instagram pages @WeHaSidewalkHistorian. Join us in two weeks for our next episode of Grating the Nutmeg.