Areas of Study

MSS 178

National Association of the Deaf, est. 1880

Collection of the National Association of the Deaf, 1915-1993

Gallaudet University Archives

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Gallaudet University Archives

Call No.: MSS 178


Title: Collection of the National Association of the Deaf, 1915-1993

Quantity: 43.5 linear feet (79 document boxes and 2 oversize boxes)

Abstract: This collection consists of articles, convention materials, correspondence, legislative papers, manuscripts, objects, photographs, and publications.


Administrative Information

Acquisition Information: The Collection of the National Association of the Deaf was donated to the Gallaudet University Archives on October 27, 1994.

Processed By: Jeffrey Peterson, 2010 April 2.

Processing Note: Please see Gallaudet University Archives staff for assistance with viewing photographs and objects.

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

See Aladin

Historical Sketch

The National Association for the Deaf (NAD) was established on August 25, 1880, in Cincinnati, Ohio-four men are given credit for founding the organization. Robert P. McGregor was its first president and the founder of the Cincinnati Day School for the Deaf. Edmund Booth of Iowa is known as the “father of NAD” but declined the first presidency in favor of McGregor. Booth was a graduate of the Hartford school, where he studied under both Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet and Laurent Clerc. He later became the owner and editor of a successful newspaper, the Anamosa Eureka. Henry Rider and Edwin Hodgson, both of New York, were among the first to endorse a national association of the deaf through the printed press. They both, at separate times, owned The Deaf Mutes Journal.

The NAD has served in the best interests of deaf Americans for over one hundred years. It has made every effort to create a favorable social image of deaf culture. The NAD has fought for compulsory education laws for deaf children and retention of the combined system (oral and sign language) in residential schools for the deaf. It also has successfully diminished impostors who solicit money from the public by pretending they are deaf. In addition, the NAD has protected basic civil rights of deaf Americans, such as the right to equal justice, the right to exercise franchises, assume the responsibilities of taxpayers, equal employment opportunities, and motor vehicle use.
The National Association of the Deaf is the sole representative body for the United States with the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD), an international human rights organization.

Scope and Content

The collection of the National Association of the Deaf consists of 79 document boxes and 2 oversize boxes for a total of 43.5 linear feet and approximately 67,150 pages. The materials within the collection range from 1915 to 1993. The earliest documents are reproductions-most of the collection is made up of materials from the 1970s.
The bulk of the papers are convention materials, correspondence, organizational documents, and publications. The strongest component of the collection is correspondence-19 boxes compose the correspondence series. Of particular interest are letters with the NAD and other countries around the world. Since the NAD is the representative organization for the United States with the World Federation of the Deaf, the NAD remained in close contact with other nations in regards to equality for the deaf on the international front, sharing and trading information so as best to assist the deaf globally. Furthermore, cooperation among the numerous deaf organizations within the US comprises a large portion of this collection.

The weakest part of the collection is manuscripts. Most written material was published, used in speeches during conventions, or in correspondence. The manuscripts in the collection are generally drafts. There are also very few minutes from the numerous national and international congresses. There are many materials about, for, and from these events, but the collection of minutes and reports is fairly small.

Also in the compilation are photographs (Box 79) and objects (OV 2). The photographs are primarily random and correlate with the activities of the NAD during the 1970s, such as the signing of propositions, various portraits of individuals, and other topics related to deafness that appeared in the mainstream. The objects are gifts from various countries that were most likely given during world congresses. [Please see archives staff for assistance with viewing photographs and objects.]

Series Description and Folder Lists

Series 1: Articles

Boxes 1-5

The first series of the collection is articles, most of which pertain to deafness and social equality. There are a few articles from various countries about the deaf internationally as well. A large portion of the articles series relates to people who appeared in the news for such things as their accomplishments, newsworthy biographical information, and/or involvement in the mainstream.

Series 2: Conventions

Boxes 5-12

This grouping consists of materials from the various national and international gatherings the NAD was involved in. Of particular interest are materials from the numerous world congresses. The Seventh World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf was the first international congress outside of Europe and hosted in the US by the NAD in 1975. Therefore, there are many documents pertaining to the event and its preparation in this series.

Series 3: Correspondence

Boxes 12-31

Series three includes correspondence between the National Association of the Deaf and national organizations, international organizations, schools, interoffice communications, and individuals from around the US. A very large portion of this series is dedicated to letters received and sent to persons in the United States concerned with matters of equality for the deaf that the NAD could possibly assist with. These letters are organized by the state from which they were received or sent to.

Series 4: Deafness

Boxes 31-35

The deafness series is made up of documents that involve the research of deafness, the situations of the deaf from other countries, and new technology to assist the deaf with everyday living such as assistive listening devices and advancements in telecommunications. Information on how to best communicate and assist the deaf published for hospitals, the police, and other public services is an interesting part of the deafness series.

Series 5: Education and Employment

Boxes 35-39

This unit contains materials regarding the education and employment of the deaf. Of key importance are documents pertaining to the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (PL 94-142) and new legislation in the methods of teaching the deaf. There are also important materials about vocational rehabilitation mostly during the 1970s. Lastly, international information about the educational and employment statuses of the deaf is in this series.

Series 6: General

Boxes 40, OV 1

In this series are miscellaneous materials such as biographies, resumes, nomination forms of individuals from the NAD for Outstanding Young Men of America, and a couple TDD directories. One interesting piece in this series is a public service comic book featuring a deaf super hero.

Series 7: Legislation

Boxes 40-46

Series seven is primarily focused towards social equality for the deaf via governmental decree. Such issues as architectural barriers, licensing and insuring of deaf drivers, education, interpreting services, Section 504 which protects against discrimination, social security, and television captioning can be found in this grouping.

Series 8: Manuscripts

Boxes 46-47

The manuscripts series contains drafts prepared for publication or speeches at conventions. Most of the manuscripts involve informing the public with statistical information pertaining to the deaf, issues of inequality, and recommendations on how to best integrate the deaf with society and achieve social equality.

Series 9: Organizations

Boxes 47-61

The ninth series holds information about the numerous organizations the National Association of the Deaf was involved with. Since the NAD is the primary representative body for the United States with the World Federation of the Deaf, cooperation with national organizations was important to best serve the deaf in the US. Similarly, the NAD was active in the exchanging of information and ideas internationally; therefore, information about organizations from around the world is also located in this series. Also present are documents relating to the different committees of the NAD.

Series 10: Publications

Boxes 61-70

The publications grouping holds a wide variety of magazines and newsletters in which manuscripts from the NAD appeared, articles and essays about topics that the NAD was involved with, and/or the situations and views of the deaf from different nations. National and international publications are in this group.

Series 11: Schools

Boxes 70-72

Within this series is information about schools for the deaf, both in the US and on the international scale. The majority of this series is dedicated to materials about Gallaudet University, including the Deaf President Now rally, the National Information Center on Deafness, and Reports of the Board of Fellows.

Series 12: Sign Language

Boxes 72-73

This unit consists of materials relating to the research of sign language. Of particular interest are documents that detail the acceptance of American Sign Language as an official language, the linguistics and mechanics of sign language, and reports discussing total communication.

Series 13: Support Services

Boxes 73-78

The last series of the collection pertains to services established to assist the deaf with everyday living. Information about devices, service dogs, medical and social services, telecommunications, and captioning are located in series thirteen. The largest portion in this group consists of information about mental health services for the deaf during the 1970s. Television captioning, including a nation-wide rally against CBS, is a prominent feature of this series.

Click Here to View the Folders List

Click Here to View the Photographs List

Click Here to View the Objects List

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