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Sep 28, 2022
Manuscripts – MSS 49 – Parsons, Frances Margaret, 1923-
King Jordan Student Academic Center 1255
MSS 49 – Parsons, Frances Margaret, 1923-
Papers of Frances M. Parsons, 1939-1986
Gallaudet University Archives
Repository: Gallaudet University Archives
Call No.: MSS 49
Title: Papers of Frances M. Parsons, 1939-1986.
Quantity: 1.5 Linear Feet (3 document boxes)
Note: This document last updated 2006 January 6.
Acquisition Information: The Frances M. Parsons papers were given to the Gallaudet University Archives by Frances M. Parsons. The gifts were made periodically from 1979-1989.
Processed by: Michael Olson. 1987 January 9.
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:
Frances Margaret Parsons, affectionately known as Peggie, was born at El Cajon, California on September 25, 1923. Her deafness was discovered when she was 5 years old in 1928. In 1931, Frances attended a school for the deaf at Berkeley with her twin sister, Hester.
In 1935, Frances and her family moved to Tahiti, South Pacific to escape the Great Depression. They spent six years in the Tahitian Islands where Frances received an informal education, tutored by her mother.
When in 1941 the United States declared war with Japan and the Japanese occupation of the Pacific began, the Parsons family managed to escape via a sailing schooner to San Francisco. After the adventurous trek to California, Frances and Hester returned to the California School for the Deaf at Berkeley where Frances graduated in 1943.
Frances matriculated to Gallaudet College (now Gallaudet University) in 1943, but in 1945 she withdrew to marry and raise two daughters, Vincette Dee and Valerie West in California.Frances returned to Gallaudet College in 1964 to complete her studies, receiving a Bachelors of Art degree in Art History in 1967. During her college years, between 1965 and 1967, Frances did independent study in art, archaeology, and sculpture traveling to Paris, Italy, London, Ireland, Spain, and Greece. In the fall of 1967, Frances taught English at the Maryland School for the Deaf in Frederick. Within a year she was offered a tutoring position in the tutorial center at Gallaudet.
She returned to tutor in both English and Spanish from 1968 to 1973.
After five years of tutoring she moved on the Art Department where she taught History of Art until 1988.
She was then employed as Coordinator of International History Collections at Gallaudet University where she worked for five years until her retirement in 1993.Again, Frances studied abroad in 1969, touring Egypt, India, Cambodia and Turkey. Also, in 1971 and 1973, she had gone to Guatemala, Peru, Bolivia, Russia and Israel.
She continued to study in France, England, and other countries.While traveling abroad she visited the schools for the deaf and saw that the students were in a great need of good education and communication skills. In 1971 Frances decided to go to Argentina first to spread the Total Communication Philosophy to the deaf community. From that time, she traveled widely, specifically the Bahamas, Iran, and India between 1972 and 1975.Frances became involved with the Peace Corps establishing a program for deaf volunteers in the Philippines in 1974.
At the beginning of 1976, she started a year long trip to the Middle East, Far East, Asia, and Africa which included Iran, India, Singapore, Ceylon, Thailand, Hong Kong, Australia, Africa, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Taiwan and the Philippines. Frances taught sign language from the NAD ABC signs and translated that work into Spanish while giving numerous presentations and workshops on Total Communication. She ended her trip in late December of that year.
Frances continued to travel in 1977 and 1978 to the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, South Korea and Africa as a Peace Corps Professional Participant. She traveled to Great Britain, Scotland, Wales and Ireland in the summer of 1979. In 1980 she traveled to West, Central and East Java and Indonesia, giving lectures, workshops, and conferences about Total Communication. In 1981 she did the same in South Africa.
In the summer of 1985, Frances traveled to the West Indies where she taught sign language. She traveled to China in the summer of 1986.Associate Professor Parsons received numerous honors and awards for her successful trip: opening the doors of the world to Total Communication for deaf people. In 1977 the Board of Directors of Gallaudet College honored Frances with a commendation for her work in foreign countries.
In 1971 Frances authored, “Sound of the Stars,” a diary in which she relates her experiences while living in Tahiti for six years. She has also written many articles related to her various trips as well as three books: “I didn’t Hear the Dragon Roar,” “Deaf Women’s Lives,” and “I Knew Elizabeth Peet: Queen of Gallaudet.”
In 1974 Frances received a Master’s degree from University of Maryland. Her thesis was titled, “Problems of Teaching Art History to the Deaf at the College level.”
Scope and Content
The Frances M. Parsons Papers consist of articles, clippings, diaries, letters, reports, resumes and a scrapbook. Ms. Parsons is presently a lecturer of Art History at Gallaudet University where she has taught since 1973. Professor Parsons is known as an “ambassador” to the deaf world where she has been traveling around to spread the Total Communication to the deaf people.
The collection, which consists of approximately 2,500 pages, dates from 1939 1986. The bulk of the collection consists of diaries, articles and clippings. Ms. Parsons wrote her diaries about her trips between 1974 and 1977. Also, there are some materials in this collection related to the Peace Corps in which Ms. Parsons participated. In the collection are two tapes of interviews while she was in South Africa and Australia in 1976. Ms. Parsons wrote several articles on her trips and also on Total Communication. One interesting item in this collection is a clipping about Parsons’ escapade from Tahiti to San Francisco in 1941.
Series Descriptions and Folder Lists
Gallaudet University, chartered in 1864, is a private university for deaf and hard of hearing students.
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