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Dec 9, 2022
Manuscripts – The Yerker Andersson Papers, 1926-2014
King Jordan Student Academic Center 1255
Gallaudet University Archives
Andersson, Yerker Johan Olof, 1929-2016
The Yerker Andersson Papers, 1926-2014
63 boxes (33 linear feet)
Papers of deaf sociologist, educator, and international disability activist Dr. Yerker Andersson. Includes correspondence, publications, manuscripts, meeting minutes and agendas, photographs, stamp collection, and more.
This document last updated January 2018.
Assembled from numerous donations given to the Archives by Dr. Andersson between 1989 and 2016.
Christopher Shea, January 2018.
Conditions on Use and Access:
This collection is open to the public with no restrictions. Two files, in series 5 and 13, are closed until 2050 at Dr. Andersson’s request.
Related Material in the Archives
Born Jerker Johan Olof Andersson in Vallentuna, Sweden, in 1929, Andersson was likely born deaf, although his parents did not discover his deafness until age three. He attended an oral preschool and then the Manilla School for the Deaf in Stockholm, graduating in 1945. He worked as a dental technician while taking correspondence courses, and was an active member and leader in the Swedish deaf clubs and community.
Andersson left Sweden to attend Gallaudet College in 1955, and graduated in 1960 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology. He also became a naturalized US citizen in the same year, formally changing his first name to Yerker. He went on to take a master’s degree in rehabilitation at Columbia University in 1962 and worked as a guidance counselor at the New York School for the Deaf in White Plains. In 1964, he was recruited to Gallaudet’s sociology department, and taught at Gallaudet for over 30 years, until his retirement in 1996. He served as the chair of the sociology department from 1974 to 1980, and in 1981 earned his Ph.D. degree in sociology at the University of Maryland in College Park.
In 1991, Dr. Harvey Corson, then provost of Gallaudet, founded a task force to examine the possibility of creating a department of deaf studies and American Sign Language. Dr. Andersson was co-chair of the task force. When the Department of Deaf Studies was created, Dr. Andersson worked as its coordinator and then as its first chair from 1993 through 1996.
Dr. Andersson was also an active member of the World Federation of the Deaf from 1975 onward, including serving two terms as vice president (1975-1983) and three terms as president (1983-1992). He also consulted extensively for the United Nations on deafness and disability issues. While some biographies of Dr. Andersson state that he was the first deaf person to address the United Nations General Assembly, this is a persistent misconception. While Dr. Andersson did deliver a lecture at the UN in 1992, it was at an unofficial meeting. The first deaf person to formally address the General Assembly was Dr. Robert Davila at the close of the UN Decade of Disabled Persons in 1992
Dr. Andersson remained active after retirement. President Bill Clinton selected him to serve on the National Council of Disability from 1996 through 1998, and he continued to work with the United Nations on disability issues through the 1990s and 2000s. He received an honorary doctorate from Gallaudet in 1998, and was named honorary president of the WFD in 2011. He passed away in 2016.
Scope and Content
These papers offer a general overview of Dr. Andersson’s life and career, both as an educator and a deaf activist. There is relatively little personal material, and material related to Gallaudet and his educational work is fragmentary. The papers are much more complete in relation to his work with organizations such as the UN, WFD, NAD, MDAD, and others.
These papers will be of special interest to those interested in the international deaf community, as Dr. Andersson’s collection of international materials (series 7-8) and material from the WFD (series 9) offer an interesting look at deaf groups and deaf life around the world.
Dr. Andersson’s stamp collection (series 16) also offers a unique resource, particularly for stamps and First Day Covers on deafness and prominent deaf people.
The papers also include extensive material on disability issues not necessarily related to deafness, particularly in series 7-8, 14, and 15, including material on the rights of the disabled, international laws classifying and governing disability, and records from groups active in aiding and advocating for the disabled.
Series 1. Biographical items, 1949-1992
A small collection of letters, drawings, and memorabilia from Dr. Andersson’s life, including his resume and brief biographies, birthday cards from his 25th and 80th birthdays, a collection of sketches and caricatures including some ink landscape sketches by his fellow deaf Swede Jan Afzelius, and letters commemorating his naturalization as a US citizen and the awarding of his doctorate. See series 3 for diplomas and other academic honors.
Series 2. Correspondence, 1956-2011
The bulk of this series consists of printouts of Dr. Andersson’s personal e-mail from May through December 2006. This includes some correspondence related to his work with the NAD and the WFD (see series 9 and 10 for more), as well as discussion of the 2006 Gallaudet student protests (see series 3). It also includes a small amount of correspondence from other years, as well as a collection of greeting cards and postcards from Dr. Andersson’s family, friends, and colleagues. See series 16 for more postcards and correspondence.
Series 3. Gallaudet papers, 1956-2011
Correspondence, forms, diplomas, and other papers from Dr. Andersson’s time as a Gallaudet student and a member of the Gallaudet faculty. Includes Dr. Andersson’s diplomas from Gallaudet and Columbia University, announcements of academic honors he earned while a student, correspondence and other materials from the Deaf President Now and 2006 protests, and material from class reunions.
Series 4. Deaf Studies papers, 1979-2010
Material from Gallaudet’s Deaf Studies department, as well as academic papers and other work done by Dr. Andersson and others in the field of deaf studies. Includes some minutes from Gallaudet’s original Task Force for Deaf Studies, as well as a collection of course and department descriptions from deaf education and deaf studies programs at colleges other than Gallaudet.
Series 5. Goedele de Clerck papers, 2007-2009
Dr. Goedele de Clerck, a native of Belgium, is a sociologist and researcher in deaf communities and sign language who has spent time at Gallaudet as a visiting scholar. Dr. Andersson collected some of her academic writings here, including her doctoral dissertation. Note that one paper in this series is closed to the public until 2050.
Series 6. Lectures, 1984-2007
Speech and paper texts, advertising materials, transparencies, and other items associated with lectures given by Dr. Andersson.
Series 7. International materials, 1968-2011
A collection of brochures, publications, correspondence, and other material from deaf people and organizations around the world, acquired by Dr. Andersson during his travel and interaction with the international deaf community. Arranged by country name; note that materials from Sweden are separate in series 8. There are particularly large collections from Finland, Denmark, Australia, Japan, and Britain. Includes material from national deaf associations, laws relating to the deaf and disabled, announcements of deaf-related events, and correspondence with natives of those countries. Unusual items include a booklet of disability-related laws from North Korea and a children’s sign language book and calendar from Tibet.
Series 8. Swedish materials, 1940-2009
Items from Dr. Andersson’s native country, including publications and correspondence from the national Swedish deaf society, the Sveriges Dövas Riksförbund, and other deaf societies. Also includes papers and articles on the Swedish deaf community and clippings from Swedish deaf media. Of particular interest are some items from Dr. Andersson’s early life, including World War II-era rationing coupon booklets, Swedish novels he received as gifts from his friend Jan Afzelius, and booklets of regulations for dental technicians.
Series 9. World Federation of the Deaf records, 1955-2010
Bulk is from mid-1990s to mid-2000s. Includes materials from WFD Congresses, reports, member lists, and correspondence and reports on 2008 revision of the WFD statutes. Also includes some correspondence, minutes, and agendas from WFD board meetings.
Series 10. National Association of the Deaf records, 1950-2012
Most of this collection is material from the NAD leadership, including minutes and reports from the Board of Directors, convention programs and memorabilia, and material from Region I conferences and the Fulton III Committee, which developed a plan for restructuring and reorienting the NAD for the 21st century in 2006.
Series 11. Maryland state deaf group records, 2000-2009
Material from the Maryland Association of the Deaf (MDAD), the state’s Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ODHH), and other social and advocacy groups based in Maryland. Includes material covering the 2006 gubernatorial elections, the classification and licensing of educational interpreters in the state, and laws mandating the use of deaf-friendly fire alarms. Also includes some minutes and correspondence from the MDAD board and MDAD conventions.
Series 12. CISS and other deaf sports records, 1975-2009
While Dr. Andersson was not deeply involved in CISS or other deaf sports governing bodies, he did acquire some materials from international contacts over the course of his career. Includes a diploma and certificates for participation in the 8th World Winter Games for the Deaf (Lake Placid, NY, 1975) and some publications and correspondence from CISS and other sports groups.
Series 13. World Deaf Leadership Program records, 1997-2007
The World Deaf Leadership Program (see MSS 208 for more) was a Gallaudet initiative in partnership with Japan’s Nippon Foundation to improve deaf education in developing countries. Dr. Andersson was not directly involved with the WDL, but still acquired some materials from it, including correspondence, memoranda, and vision documents. Note that one file in this series is closed until 2050 at Dr. Andersson’s request.
Series 14. Disability materials, 1989-2010
Material from Dr. Andersson’s work on disability issues, including correspondence and reports from his time on the National Council on Disability, and related federal government publications. Also includes material from other disability-related organizations, publications and newsletters on disability, and material on the classification of disability, including the development of the ICF (International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health) and ICIDH-2 (International Classification of Impairment, Disability, and Health) standards.
Series 15. United Nations records, 1974-2010
There is some overlap between this and series 14, since Dr. Andersson’s involvement with the United Nations was primarily in the field of disability rights, including the United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons (1982-1992) and the drafting of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2006-2007. Besides these areas, this series also includes material from health-related UN organizations such as the WHO, UNICEF, and UNESCO on the classification of disability and rights of the disabled.
Series 16. Stamp collection, 1941-2014
Stamp collecting was one of Dr. Andersson’s hobbies, particularly stamps related to deafness and Swedish and other international stamps. This series includes stamps, cancellations, and First Day Covers from many deaf-related events, including World Games/Deaflympics, World Congresses of the WFD, and events at Gallaudet. There are particularly large collections of stamps and First Day Covers for the 1980 Helen Keller/Anne Sullivan stamp, 1982 Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet stamp, and the 1993 American Sign Language stamps. Also included is a large collection of envelopes and postcards from Dr. Andersson’s correspondence (a few still have letters in them) that he appears to have saved because they had interesting stamps.
Of particular interest are some Japanese envelopes and stamps from the mid-1940s, which passed through military censorship during World War II, as well as an assortment of stamped, canceled envelopes from Sweden in the 1940s and 1950s.
Series 17. Business cards, undated
Collection of business cards from people that Dr. Andersson met and worked with at international events.
Series 18. Clippings, 1960-2012
A collection of clippings from deaf and hearing newspapers and magazines, some about Dr. Andersson personally and others on topics of interest to him, such as deaf culture, sociology, and linguistics. Includes clippings on Dr. Andersson being selected as a Maryland election judge in 2002 and being named to the President’s Council on Disability in 1994.
Series 19. Digital media, ca. 2001-2011
A large collection consisting of a few CDs and Zip disks, as well as several hundred 3.5″ floppy disks. Includes minutes and other material from the MDAD, WFD, and other groups Dr. Andersson worked with, as well as photographs, manuscripts for brochures, and PowerPoint presentations.
Series 20. Loose photos, 1956-1958
A collection of black and white snapshot photos taken while Dr. Andersson was a student at Gallaudet. Many have descriptions written in Swedish on their backs. The bulk are photos from the 1958 Gallaudet production of Hamlet. Also included are some campus photos and photos of a parade near the Capitol.
Series 21. Artifacts, 1926-2011
A collection of items acquired by Dr. Andersson over the years, including plaques, awards, buttons and pins, shirts, assistive devices, and more. Of particular interest are a pin and ribbon from the 10th convention of the National Association of the Deaf (1926), a clay scroll made by a friend to celebrate Andersson earning his Ph.D., and a plaque that Andersson earned in 1960 as a student for his work on the Tower Clock, Gallaudet’s yearbook.
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