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Dec 9, 2022
Manuscripts – MSS 69 – Union League of the Deaf, est. 1886
King Jordan Student Academic Center 1255
MSS 69 – Union League of the Deaf, est. 1886
Collection of the Union League of the Deaf, 1886-1996
Gallaudet University Archives
Repository: Gallaudet University Archives
Call No.: MSS 69
Title: Collection of the Union League of the Deaf, 1886-1996.
Quantity: 2.0 Linear Feet (4 document boxes)
Note: This document last updated 2006 January 10.
Acquisition Information: The records of the Union League of the Deaf were given to the Gallaudet University Archives by George P. Konrady through Henry Buzzard. The gift was made on April 4, 1988.
Processed by: Victor Marques & Arlene Blumenthal Kelly. 1996 July 22.
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
The Union League of the Deaf (UL) was established on January 3, 1886 by four graduates of the Institution for the Improved Instruction of Deaf Mutes (now the Lexington School for the Deaf). The founders were Adolf Pfeiffer, Charles A. Bothner, Samuel Frankenheim and Joseph Yankauer.
The original name of this club was the Deaf-Mutes’ Union League, and was formed as another social club (unknown name) had just disbanded.
One of the principal purposes of this organization was the improvement of the “”intellectual faculties”” of its members. In accomplishing this, members gave lectures in turn, as well as holding debates.
UL met at the home of Samuel Frankenheim from its establishment until April 17, 1887. From June 2, 1887 to December 1890, they met at the home of Arthur Bachrach’s parents. Meetings were held at the Lexington School for the Deaf from December 1890 to October 1892.
On November 3, 1892, UL moved into the Central Opera House on 67th Street near 3rd Avenue. It was owned by Jacob Rupert, owner of Rupert Breweries, and later of the New York Yankees. The fire department ordered the closure of the Central Opera House on June 1, 1899. For a year, UL led a nomadic life until it rented an entire floor at 1777 Broadway near 58th Street.
In 1903, UL moved into West 125th Street. On May 30, 1932, this building was destroyed by a fire, consuming almost all of the club’s records and property. After repairs to the building, UL moved back in.
However, in 1933, UL moved to 8th Avenue and 45th Street until 1948. Because of an order from the fire department, UL relocated to the Barbour Hotel on West 36th Street until 1953, when they moved to the Coliseum House on the Upper West Side.
The Hotel Ansonia, on Broadway between 73rd and 74th Streets, was UL’s home from 1968 to 1978. Due to increasing rents, UL moved to the Hotel Edison (1986).
On January 6, 1887, dues were established at 25 cents per month, with a 50 cents initiation fee and 15 cents admission to each meeting. An absence without reason demanded a fine of 25 cents.
In 1904, wives and lady friends of members formed a Ladies’ Society and met in the clubrooms in the afternoons.
At its peak, membership grew to 500, with over 100 non-resident members. Membership, once restricted to men, included women and ethnic-minorities. The club provided a place for social recreation: entertainment; fund-raising affairs; card and bingo games; captioned films; basketball and softball tournaments (Eastern Athletic Association of the Deaf).
UL celebrated its 100th anniversary with a banquet at the Waldorf Astoria on May 17, 1986.
Scope and Content
The Union League of the Deaf collection consists of minutes from 1886 to 1979; original program books of 1890, 1892 and 1906; photostats of newspapers clippings.
The bulk of this collection consists of minutes. Due to a 1932 fire, records such as minutes and correspondence from 1906 to 1932 were destroyed. A gap includes the non-existence of correspondence of any kind as well as an absence of flyers. Very few photostats of newspaper clippings are included in this collection.
Original program books of 1890, 1892 and 1906 are included. An historical sketch, complied by Shirley Lerner in observation of UL’s 100th anniversary, is included.
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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