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Sep 27, 2022
Manuscripts – Papers of Leonard M. Elstad, 1914 – 1988
King Jordan Student Academic Center 1255
Elstad, Leonard M., 1899 – 1990
Papers of Leonard M. Elstad, 1914 – 1988 Gallaudet University Archives
Repository: Gallaudet University Archives
Call No.: MSS 183
Title: Papers of Leonard M. Elstad, 1914 – 1988.
Quantity: 4 linear feet (8 document boxes)
Abstract: This collection consists of Leonard M. Elstad’s personal papers. Included are letters, speeches, articles, reports, financial reports, certificates, brochures, booklets, publications, program books, newspaper clippings, and photographs.
Acquisition Information: The Papers of Leonard M. Elstad was donated to the Gallaudet University Archives by John Mills, a grandson of Leonard M. Elstad, on November 7, 2006.
Processed by: Michael J. Olson, Spring 2011.
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
Dr. Leonard M. Elstad was born in Osseo, Wisconsin, on February 8, 1899. He was the son of Rev. Ole H. Elstad, a Lutheran minister. Dr. Elstad was educated in Wisconsin and North Dakota. His association with education started in 1917 as he taught in a one-room rural school in North Dakota. He graduated from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, in 1922. He came to Gallaudet College and graduated with a Master’s Degree in 1923. He became a teacher at Gallaudet after a year in the program. He coached women’s basketball and men’s baseball. The following year he taught and also was a principal of the Kendall School.
In 1925, Dr. Elstad was hired to become assistant principal of the Wright Oral School in New York City. In 1932, he became superintendent of the Minnesota School for the Deaf in Faribault, Minnesota. Gallaudet College hired him to become their third president in 1945, preceded by Percival Hall.
Dr. Elstad, who had two honorary degrees, presided over an important period of Gallaudet’s history, which came to be called the “Elstad Expansion Era.” Gallaudet achieved accreditation in 1957 and was significantly expanded, both in terms of enrollment and the number and capacity of the buildings on campus. The buildings were erected during his time include: the Edward Miner Gallaudet Memorial Library; Elizabeth Peet Residence Hall; Percival Hall Memorial Building; Mary Thornberry Hearing and Speech Center; Gallaudet College Auditorium, which was named after him, Elstad Auditorium; Ely Residence Hall; Student Union Building; and the Frederick H. Hughes Gymnasium. Dr. Elstad put all staff under the Civil Service Retirement plan in 1949.
Dr. Elstad retired in 1969 and passed away on June 27, 1990, at the age of 91.
Scope and Content
The papers of Leonard M. Elstad consist of 8 document boxes for a total of 4 linear feet and approximately 6,800 pages. The materials within the collection range from 1914 to 1988 with the majority of content from 1930 to 1973.The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence concerning arrangements for speaking engagements of which Dr. Elstad was an expert-he was an excellent public speaker. Also included in this collection are Dr. Elstad’s connections with Gallaudet College, mostly via correspondence. Information about the Wright Oral School, where Dr. Elstad was a superintendent during the late 1920s and early 1930s, is included in this collection. Dr. Elstad wrote his personal letters to relatives and friends.
Series 1: General Correspondence 1930 – 1974
Boxes 1 Folder 1 – Box 4 Folder 13
This series contains correspondence between Dr. Elstad and other people regarding various subjects. Dr. Elstad received his congratulatory letters from well-wishers for selection as 3rd President of Gallaudet College. The bulk of this collection is correspondence regarding speaking engagements. Dr. Elstad was a very excellent public speaker and presented at various meetings, conventions, etc.
Series 2: Gallaudet College 1931 – 1973
Boxes 4 Folder 14 – Box 5 Folder 14
In this section Dr. Elstad corresponded with his colleagues, relatives and friends about activities at Gallaudet College as well as survey reports of the Columbia Institution for the Deaf. Correspondence with alumni is included.
Series 3: Wright Oral School 1925 – 1946
Boxes 5 Folder 15 – Box 5 Folder 21
Dr. Elstad was the superintendent of the Wright Oral School in New York City. Included are letters written between Dr. Elstad and John D. Wright, founder of the school, concerning an agreement and financial
Series 4: Articles, Papers, and Speeches 1942 – 1974
Boxes 6 Folder 1 to Box 6 Folder 28
Dr. Elstad wrote many articles on the education of deaf. His speeches are also included.
Series 5: General Files and Publications 1914 – 1988
Boxes 7 Folder 1 to Box 7 Folder 31
Dr. Elstad wrote an autobiographical sketch which is included in this series. There are some booklets, certificates and clippings which belonged to Dr. Elstad, as well as several publications written about him.
Series 6: Photographs 1910s – 1970s
Included in this collection are 41 envelopes that contain photographs that Dr. Elstad collected for his personal use.
Gallaudet University, chartered in 1864, is a private university for deaf and hard of hearing students.
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