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Calligiuri (Nadine) Personal Papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Arrangement
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Preferred Citation
  • Processing Information
  • Scope and Contents

  • Contributing Institution: Archives of the Archdiocese of San Francisco
    Title: Nadine Calligiuri Personal Papers
    Creator: Calligiuri, Nadine
    Identifier/Call Number: SC.077
    Physical Description: 2.55 Cubic Feet ; 2 records center boxes; 1 flat box
    Date (inclusive): 1965-2000
    Language of Material: English .

    Conditions Governing Access

    Collection is open for research.


    Series 1: Biographical Includes items related to Calligiuri's personal history and professional achievements, including a letter she wrote to her parents at an early age; awards received; press coverage; and her speeches.
    Series 2: Handicapables Legal documents, published articles, pamphlets and brochures, and newspaper clippings about the founding and activities of the Handicapables.
    Series 3: Correspondence Mostly business in nature relating to Handicapables. The majority of correspondence is from Archbishops Joseph McGucken (1965-1977) and John R. Quinn (1977-1994) in addition to those received from organizations and individuals involved with Handicapables.
    Series 4: Photographs, Audiovisual, Objects Photographs (1960s to 2000s)and video cassette tapes (1980s) featuring Nadine and the Handicapables; and personal objects such as a needlepoint textile described by Nadine as the blanket she kept during her stay at the Shriners' Children's Hospital, sometime between 1945-1947.

    Biographical / Historical

    Nadine Calligiuri was born in 1938 in Hibbing, Minnesota and raised in the North Beach District of San Francisco, California. Nadine was born with cerebral palsy, and as a young child she spent months at the Shriners Hospital in Los Angeles undergoing treatment that was at the time thought to help with the physical limitations brought upon by the diagnosis. Shortly after graduating from Presentation High School, an all-girls Catholic high school in San Francisco in 1958, Nadine attended a vocational training center for individuals with physical and mental disabilities. At the center, Nadine learned how to type, stuff envelopes and make tooth brushes, earning twenty cents an hour, far below the minimum wage at the time. It was also the first time in her life she encountered those with more severe handicaps than her own. She recalled her experience in a 1975 magazine article interview, "I withdrew from them not because of their handicaps, but because of the feelings of loneliness and despair each one expressed." At the end of the six-month program, Nadine was advised to stay on, but she chose instead to pursue a different career path, saying, "I tried everything. I even took a civil service librarian's exam, but I was too slow to do the work." Because of these personal experiences, Nadine felt a calling to become an advocate for people with mental and physical disabilities, and she eventually went on to found a Catholic lay ministry "Handicapables" in 1965.
    The Handicapables ministry was originally established in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco through its Committee on Aging, and its primary mission was to empower those individuals with physical disabilities or were homebound by providing them with the access and means to practice their Catholic faith and receive a diverse range of charitable services. Nadine credited the name of the organization to Father George Twigg-Porter. S.J., who said to her at a Catholic retreat, "You are not handicapped; you are handicapable. You are handy on this earth with a mission to perform for God and you are capable of fulfilling that purpose if you will listen when He speaks to you."
    Handicapables grew as an organization, establishing chapters throughout California, and it formed partnerships with charitable organizations like the Knights of Columbus and Catholic Charities. By 1975, Handicapables had 13 chapters with 750 members. The organization eventually became nationally-recognized and in 1972, Nadine was awarded the National Volunteer Awards by President Nixon. Nadine's advocacy work also included forming relationships with local, state, and church leaders to raise visibility and awareness about the challenges and inequities experienced by individuals with disabilities. During the 1970s, she successfully lobbied Archbishop Joseph McGucken to have a wheelchair ramp and elevator installed inside Saint Mary Cathedral in San Francisco, and she met with the San Francisco Housing Authority about the need for specially designed low cost housing units to accommodate those with physical disabilities.
    In the ensuing decades, Nadine continued her advocacy work and organized gatherings that brought together the homebound and those with disabilities to celebrate the Catholic Mass and for specially held events located throughout the Bay Area. In 2020, Catholic Charities assumed directorial leadership for Handicapables' San Francisco chapter and renamed the organization, Breaking Bread with Hope.

    Preferred Citation

    Researchers wishing to cite this collection should include the following information: Nadine Calligiuri Papers, Box number, Archives of the Archdiocese of San Francisco (AASF).

    Processing Information

    Previously made accessions were processed into a single collection and basic preservation tasks were performed. Reparative Description was applied using the National Social Security Administration's Rule, Change in Terminology: "Mental Retardation" to "Intellectual Disability", published in the National Archives Federal Register Daily Journal on 2013-08-01.

    Scope and Contents

    The Nadine Calligiuri Collection is comprised of personal papers and related items documenting the life and works of a Catholic laywoman who dedicated her life to minister to those with disabilities and the homebound through the organization she founded, the Handicapables. The collection consists of official and personal correspondence, photographs, newspaper clippings, scrapbook pages, and ephemera related to Nadine's life and the founding of the Handicapables in 1965, and its growth and activities.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Catholic Church--California--San Francisco
    People with disabilities--California
    People with disabilities--Religious aspects--Christianity
    People with disabilities--Services for