MSS 87
National Literary Society of the Deaf
Collection of the National Literary Society of the Deaf, 1907-1983

Gallaudet University Archives

Descriptive Summary
Repository: Gallaudet University Archives

Call No.: MSS 87
Title: Collection of the National Literary Society of the Deaf, 1907-1983
Quantity: 1.0 Linear Feet (2 document boxes)
Note: This document last updated 2006 January 6.
Administrative Information

Acquisition Information: Francis C. Higgins gave the National Literary Society of the Deaf Collection to the Gallaudet University Archives in the 1980s.
Processed by: Margaret A. Steedman. 1998 July 7.
Processing Note: Revised by Michael Olson. 2001 March 30.
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:

  • Papers, Robert Panara, 1959. Gallaudet University Archives, Call Number: SMSS

Vertical Files

  • National Literary Society of the Deaf-Gallaudet University Archives, Call Number: Deaf Subject

Historical Sketch
The National Literary Society of the Deaf was founded on February 6, 1907, in the Parish Hall of Trinity Episcopal Church, located on the northwest corner of Third and C Streets, N.W. in Washington, DC. Before that, there was some discussion of setting up a literary society by six men as following: John B. Hotchkiss, Rev. Herbert C. Merrill, Albert F. Adams, Rev. Arthur D. Bryant, Roy J. Stewart, and Gilbert O. Erickson. They formed a new name called the National Literary Society of the Deaf with its first 55 members who resided in the Washington, DC area. The number of Charter members was sixteen. Its object of the society was chiefly the general literary advancement and mental improvement of its members; also to promote the cultural and social life among the members.

The early history of the NLSD is rather sketchy; however, the early meetings were held once every month during the evening at the Masonic Temple building in Washington, DC from 1928-1953. Members of the faculty of Gallaudet College were invited to address the society. Sometimes college students gave talks on interesting subjects.

Over the years, the NLSD meet at various places in downtown Washington, DC until 1967, they were given a space for use at Gallaudet College. They continue to meet on the campus until the 1990s when they decided to meet off-campus. The NLSD had its banquets held off-campus, and many members attended.

For more information on the history of the NLSD, see Francis Higgins’ article on the history of the organization in which he wrote in 1982.

Scope and Content The National Literary Society of the Deaf Collection consists of letters, biographical information, constitution and by-laws, poems, articles, program books, research notes, minutes, Treasurer’s reports and list of members. The NLSD was founded in 1907. Its object was to promote the general literary advancement and mental improvement of its members and promote the members’ cultural and social life.

The collection, which consists of approximately 350 pages, dates from 1907 to 1983. The bulk of the collection consists of biographical information on the founding members and minutes of the meetings and Treasurer’s reports. The bulk dates are mostly between 1972 and 1982. The collection’s strength is centered on the historical information of the NLSD of which Francis Higgins collected and wrote for the 75th-anniversary banquet program in 1982.

The largest subject in the collection is focused on the historical notes on the NLSD. Included in the collection are minute books from 1928 to 1978; however, the first two minutes of books from 1907 to 1928 are missing or lost. Treasurer’s books from 1907 to 1937 and 1952 to 1970 are included except for those years from 1937 to 1952. A poem written by a deaf poet, Hallea H. Stout, is included in the collection.

Series Descriptions and Folder Lists

No Series

Box Folder Title of Folder Date
1 1 Biography—Adams, Albert F. n.d.
1 2 Biography—Bryant, Rev. Arthur D. n.d.
1 3 Biography—Erickson, Gilbert O. n.d.
1 4 Biography—Flick, George F. n.d.
1 5 Biography—Hotchkiss, John B. n.d.
1 6 Biography—Merrill, Rev. Herbert C. n.d.
1 7 Biography—Stewart, Roy J. n.d.
1 8 Bookmarks—75th Anniversary 1982
1 9 Constitution and By-laws 1926-1971
1 10 History of the NLSD by F. Higgins 1982
1 11 Letter from Delbert L. Erickson 1982
1 12 Letter from Thomas R. Harrington 1982
1 13 Letter from Wesley Lauritsen 1982
1 14 Letter from Leonard B. Warshawsky 1982
1 15 List of Members 1968-1975
1 16 List of Officers of the NLSD 1907-1983
1 17 National Literary Society News 1974-1975
1 18 Poems 1923
1 19 Program books—65th Anniversary 1972
1 20 Program books—75th Anniversary 1982
1 21 Research notes n.d.
1 22 Treasurer’s Reports 1972-1975
1 23 Treasurer’s Report—65th Anniversary 1972
1 24 Treasurer’s Report—75th Anniversary 1982
1 25 Trinity Episcopal Church—History 1979
2 1 Secretary’s Book #3 1928-1948
2 2 Secretary’s Book #4 1948-1963
2 3 Secretary’s Book #5 1963-1978
2 4 Treasurer’s Book #1 1907-1937
2 5 Treasurer’s Book #3 1952-1962
2 6 Treasurer’s Book #4 1962-1970

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