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Dec 9, 2022
Manuscripts – The Ben M. Schowe Jr. Papers, 1926-1986
King Jordan Student Academic Center 1255
Schowe, Ben M. Jr., 1920-1996
The Ben M. Schowe Jr. Papers, 1926-1986
Gallaudet University Archives
Repository: Gallaudet University Archives
Call No.: MSS 196
Creator: Schowe, Ben M. Jr., 1920-1996
Title: The Ben M. Schowe Jr. Papers, 1926-1996
Quantity: 12 linear feet (24 boxes)
Abstract: Papers of deaf librarian and educator Ben M. Schowe Jr., formerly of the Ohio School for the Deaf and the Model Secondary School for the Deaf in Washington, DC. Includes papers and articles, personal and professional correspondence, notes, memoranda, and more.
Acquisition Information: Collection donated to Gallaudet University by Dr. Schowe, 1986.
Processed By: Christopher Shea, April 2014.
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 of Benjamin M. Schowe, Sr., 1912-1977. Gallaudet University Archives, call number: MSS 43
· Ben M. Schowe Jr. [picture]. Gallaudet University Archives, call number: Portraits
· Schowe, Ben M., Jr. Gallaudet University Archives, call number: Deaf Biographical
Born in 1920 to deaf parents, Benjamin M. Schowe Jr. attended Gallaudet College, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 1942. He taught elementary school at the Virginia School for the Deaf for a year before moving on to the Ohio School for the Deaf in 1943, where he served as a teacher, librarian, and audiovisual director for the next twenty-eight years.
At this time, audiovisual education was rapidly becoming a more important means of instruction in classrooms and libraries, and Schowe became an expert in the field. He was particularly known for his work in evaluating material intended for hearing students and adapting it for the deaf. In 1955, he received a master’s degree in primary and audiovisual education from Ohio State University, and went on to take a Ph.D. in communication, curriculum, and sociology from OSU in 1970.
Soon after the Model Secondary School for the Deaf was established in 1969, Dr. Schowe was recruited to join the staff there, and he moved to Maryland in 1971. He was originally hired as a resource teacher to work in the Learning Resources Center (LRC), but later joined MSSD’s English department while still overseeing the library. He took an active hand in shaping MSSD’s educational philosophy and library policies while employed there.
In 1984, Dr. Schowe was transferred to the Gallaudet archive as the college’s records manager. After two years, the position was terminated. Dr. Schowe attempted to rejoin the MSSD faculty but ended up taking retirement in 1986. He moved to Roanoke, Virginia, where he was active in American Sign Language (ASL) education and the local deaf community, including establishing ASL and interpreter training courses at Virginia Western Community College. He passed away in 1996.
Scope and Content
Dr. Schowe was a prolific correspondent, and the bulk of the material in this collection consists of letters and memoranda he wrote while at OSD and MSSD. This includes raw notes and drafts and finished products, as well as some memoranda that were written but never sent. The main topics of his writing are library services (especially services related to audiovisual items), deaf education, and school policies. Since Dr. Schowe was at MSSD almost from its opening, his writings offer some interesting insights on MSSD education and student life during the early years of the institution.
This collection also includes a number of papers Dr. Schowe wrote while studying for his advanced degrees at OSU, including term papers for courses in education, psychology, communication, and related subjects. Also present are a draft of his master’s thesis and a clean copy of his Ph.D. dissertation.
Dr. Schowe had a close relationship with his father, the labor economist Benjamin Schowe Sr., and this collection includes an extensive correspondence between the two of them. It also includes the full texts of two books by Schowe Sr., Identity Crisis in Deafness and The Art of Being Deaf (the latter unpublished).
Series 1. Correspondence and writings from education, 1949-1970
This series consists of writings that Dr. Schowe produced during his studies at Ohio State University for his master’s degree and doctorate. Included is a fair copy of Dr. Schowe’s dissertation, Education of the Deaf in the Sixties: A Description and Critique, as well as a draft copy of his master’s thesis, Sign Language Development, and typed answers to questions for his Ph.D. examination. The remainder of the series is term papers on various aspects of education and psychology, as well as some correspondence with professors, class notes, and drafts.
On a related note, series 5 has a collection of correspondence with Dr. Edgar Dale, who was an important influence on Dr. Schowe’s studies at OSU.
Series 2. Correspondence and papers from Ohio School for the Deaf, 1952-1971
A small collection of materials related to Dr. Schowe’s tenure at the Ohio School for the Deaf. Of particular interest is a collection of correspondence between Dr. Schowe and his students, as well as a piece of wall paneling from OSD signed by his class on the occasion of his leaving OSD to join the MSSD faculty. Also included are some other correspondence and some papers he wrote while at OSD.
Series 3. Correspondence and reports from MSSD, 1971-1986
The bulk of this series is correspondence written by Dr. Schowe to his colleagues and administrators at MSSD, covering various aspects of MSSD’s policies, including evaluation, planning, and student goals. It also includes some notes and reports by Dr. Schowe on student coursework, Much of the latter has to do with Dr. Schowe’s attempts to implement the educational philosophy of James Moffett at MSSD, and the series also includes extensive notes from a course titled “Adventures in Communication,” based on Moffett’s principles.
Series 8 also has a great deal of material related to Dr. Schowe’s work at MSSD.
Series 4. Correspondence with family, 1926-1979
Almost all of this series is made up of correspondence between Dr. Schowe and his father, Ben Schowe Sr. There is a great deal of discussion between the two Schowes on deaf education and the cultural and sociological aspects of deafness, and some discussion of personal and family matters is also included. Of particular interest is a manuscript copy of the elder Schowe’s unpublished book The Art of Being Deaf. Another of his books is included in series 7.
Also included is some correspondence between Dr. Schowe and his mother and siblings, some of the elder Dr. Schowe’s family correspondence, and programs from the memorial services for Dr. Schowe’s parents.
Series 5. Correspondence with persons, 1954-1977
Correspondence between Dr. Schowe and specific persons. Most correspondence is on professional topics, particularly library work and deaf education, and this series includes correspondence with Irving S. Fusfeld, Helmer Myklebust, Harry Bornstein, Mervin Garretson, and other important figures in the deaf education field. Some deaf-related groups are also present. There is a large amount of correspondence with Dr. Edgar Dale, who was Dr. Schowe’s inspiration and mentor during his time at OSU, as well as a collection of papers he wrote for Dr. Dale.
Series 6. Other correspondence, 1962-1985
A collection of correspondence by Dr. Schowe that is not associated with other series in this group. Most is related to professional subjects, but there is also some correspondence with family and friends on personal matters, as well as a collection of sent and received thank-you letters.
Series 7. Other writings, 1950-1984
This series collects notes, papers, articles, and other writings by Dr. Schowe on topics related to deafness and education.
Includes a set of galleys from Ben Schowe Sr.’s 1979 book Identity Crisis in Deafness.
Series 8. Subject files, 1960-1981
A collection of files on specific subjects, arranged by Dr. Schowe. Most of the material in this series consists of notes, articles, correspondence, and papers. Much is from the 1970s, during his time at MSSD, and deals with various aspects of MSSD policy and culture. See series 3 for more on Dr. Schowe’s tenure at MSSD.
Series 9. Correspondence and proposals from records manager position, 1978-1985
Material related to Dr. Schowe’s work at the Gallaudet College archives and records center after his transfer in 1982. Includes some correspondence and coursework and reference material that Dr. Schowe used to learn records management. Also includes draft copies and a final proposal for a grant from the American Film Institute to preserve some historic George Veditz films in the archive, a project Dr. Schowe worked on with then-college archive director David DeLorenzo.
Series 10. Ball State workshop records, 1963-1968
Records from summer workshops in improving instruction for the deaf, held at Indiana’s Ball State Teachers College for several years running. These workshops were sponsored by Captioned Films for the Deaf, and focused on the use of films and other visual aids in the deaf classroom. Dr. Schowe assisted in the planning of these workshops, serving as resource director for some of them. Includes programs, correspondence, forms, agendas, and more.
Series 11. Ohio Postwar Program Commission testimony and correspondence, 1948
Records from a commission established by the government of Ohio to review post-World War II conditions in the state and make recommendations regarding education, public spending, and employment. Part of the commission’s mandate was to study blind and deaf education in Ohio, and this series covers records related to that aspect. Includes letters sent to the commission by deaf citizens and the NAD, transcripts of testimony before the commission, issues of Ohio Deaf News discussing the commission, and some of Dr. Schowe’s correspondence related to the commission’s activities.
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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