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Dec 9, 2022
Manuscripts – Papers of Bernard Bragg, 1950-1993
King Jordan Student Academic Center 1255
Bragg, Bernard, 1928-
Papers of Bernard Bragg, 1950-1993
Gallaudet University Archives
Repository: Gallaudet University Archives
Call No.: MSS 180
Title: Papers of Bernard Bragg, 1950-1993
Quantity: 6.5 linear feet (7 document boxes and 1 oversize box)
Abstract: Bernard Bragg is a world-famous deaf actor and mime. This collection consists of articles, correspondence, lists, manuscripts, newsletters, photographs, programs, publications, and reports.
Acquisition Information: The Papers of Bernard Bragg was donated to the Gallaudet University Archives by Bernard Bragg on October 27, 1994.
Processed By: Jeffrey Peterson, 2010 October 8.
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
Bernard Nathan Bragg was born in Brooklyn, New York, on September 27th, 1928, to parents Wolf and Jennie Bragg. In 1933 Bernard entered the New York School for the Deaf, Fanwood, and graduated as valedictorian in 1947. Bragg then moved on to Gallaudet College and majored in English and Education until he graduated in 1952. Following his graduation, Bernard was offered a teaching position at the California School for the Deaf, Berkley, where he taught for 15 years from 1952 to 1967. In 1959 he received his MA in Special Education from San Francisco State University.
Bernard Bragg’s biggest and most influential impact was as a deaf performer. Bernard’s father ran an amateur theatre company in New York which provided Bernard with an early glimpse and familiarity with the world of theatre. He developed a keen interest in poetry and drama and during his years at Gallaudet performed as the lead roles of such plays as “The Miser,” “The Merchant Gentleman,” and “Tartuffe.”
While performing in a nightclub in San Francisco in 1956 the famous French mime Marcel Marceau was captivated with his performance and invited Bragg to France to be his pupil. There Bragg learned the artistry of mime, returned to Berkley, and continued performing in small clubs earning him the nickname “The Houdini of Pantomime.” In 1958 he was selected by Life magazine as one of the best small night club performers of the year.
In 1960 Bragg became the first deaf person to perform regularly on TV with his show “The Quiet Man” that ran for 4 years. He appeared in several other television shows as well: “A Child’s Christmas in Wales,” “And Your Name is Jonah,” “Can Anybody Hear Me,” and “My Third Eye.”
With David Hays, Bragg established the National Theatre of the Deaf (NTD) in 1966. Bragg continued to make waves by, according to one biography, being the first American actor in over 100 years to perform with a Russian company in 1973.
Bragg accepted a post as artist-in-residence at Gallaudet College in 1977 and continued to travel, perform, and provide workshops on sign language and theatre for the deaf.
Scope and Content
The papers of Bernard Bragg consists of 7 document boxes and 1 oversize box for a total of 6.5 linear feet and approximately 5,600 pages. The materials within the collection range from 1950 to 1993 with the majority of content from the late 1970s and early 1980s.
The bulk and strongest component of the papers are articles, newsletters, and publications. Bernard Bragg’s talents were internationally known so most of the collection is comprised of printed material about his exploits as a performer. The weakest part of the collection is information relating to the establishment of the National Theatre of the Deaf. As one of its co-founders one would expect to see more material in regards to how the NTD was erected but the only documents relating to this is via correspondence with Edna Levine.
One box containing photographs is also in this collection.
Of particular interest to the researcher is a transcribed interview with Marcel Marceau about his impressions of Bernard Bragg.
Series Description and Folder Lists
Gallaudet University, chartered in 1864, is a private university for deaf and hard of hearing students.
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