Areas of Study

MSS 119

Deaf President Now, 1988

Collection of The Deaf President Now Movement, 1988-1993

Gallaudet University Archives

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Gallaudet University Archives

Call No.: MSS 119


Title: Collection of The Deaf President Now Movement, 1988-1993

Quantity: 4.5 Linear Feet (9 document boxes)


Note: This document last updated 2005 December 1.

Administrative Information

Acquisition Information: The materials in the Deaf President Now Collection was given to the Gallaudet University Archives through several donors during the years between 1988 and 1993.

Processed by: Processed by Staci Rensch and Michael J. Olson. 1997 November 25.

Processing Note: Revised by Michael J. Olson. 2003 March 20.Conditions on Use and Access: This collection is open to the public with no restrictions. Photocopies may be made for scholarly research.

Related Material in the Archives:


Historical Sketch

The Deaf President Now was a historical event at Gallaudet University in which the students staged a protest against the selection of a hearing president of Gallaudet. The campus was shut down for a week from March 6 to 13, 1988. The deaf community had hoped that Gallaudet selected the first deaf president in the history of Gallaudet, but it did not happen. Instead, the Board of Trustees selected Dr. Elisabeth Ann Zinser as the 7th president over two qualified deaf candidates, Dr. Harvey J. Corson and Dr. I. King Jordan. The selection made the deaf community upset, and the students led the protest. The deaf community made four demands that Dr. Zinser resign as the president; Jane B. Spilman resign as the chairman of the Board of Trustees; the board of trustees must consist of a majority of 51% who are deaf; and no reprisals against the protesters.

As the final first week was near at the end, the demands were met, and the deaf community won a victory—Dr. I. King Jordan was selected as the 8th and first deaf president in Gallaudet’s history. Phil Bravin was selected as the first deaf chairman of the Board of Trustees. The protest made the world gets its attention on the deaf community for a week. The major newspapers across the United States made national headlines on the Gallaudet protest.

Scope and Content

The Deaf President Now Collection consists of letters, flyers, newspaper clippings, magazines, newsletters, speeches, news releases, minutes, poems, media materials, surveys, questionnaires, and statements. The Deaf President Now protest was from March 6 to 13, 1988. The collection, which consists of approximately 7,650 pages, dates from 1988 to 1993. The bulk of the collection consists of newspaper clippings, magazines, newsletters, and letters. The bulk date of the collection is 1988. The strength of the collection is centered on the letters to the Board of Trustees, to Jane B. Spilman, chair of the Board of Trustees; and congratulation letters to President I. King Jordan.

The deaf community focuses the largest subject in the collection on the Deaf President Now protest.

Among the collection there are several letters from the members of the United States Congress in which they wrote in support of the students. The most interesting items in the collection are several cartoons related to the DPN.

There are three series in the collection: General, Letters, and Publications. Series I “General” consists of general information on materials including letters, minutes, news releases, poems, surveys, questionnaires, and statements. Series II “Letters” consists of letters in which many people wrote to the Board of Trustees in protest for the selection of Dr. Elisabeth Ann Zinser, also to Jane B. Spilman, chair of the Board of Trustees, some letters written to Phil Bravin, and Dr. Elisabeth Ann Zinser. There is a collection of congratulation letters written to President I. King Jordan for the selection of the 8th and first deaf president. Series III “Publications” consists of publications that printed the news on the Deaf President Now protest. They are arranged in alphabetical order.

Series Descriptions

Series 1

  • General

Series 2

  • Letters

Series 3

  • Publications

Folders ListClick Here to View the Folders List

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