MSS 222

Union League of the Deaf, 1886-

Union League of the Deaf Records, 1889-1971

Gallaudet University Archives

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Gallaudet University Archives

Call No.: MSS 222

Creators: Union League of the Deaf, 1886-

Title: Union League of the Deaf Records, 1889-1971

Quantity: 4 boxes (2.5 lf)

Abstract: A small collection of items formerly belonging to a New York City-based social club for the deaf. Includes event programs, membership roll book, drafts of book on the club’s 100th anniversary, programs and bylaws from other clubs, and more.

Note: This document last updated December 2018.

Administrative Information

Acquisition Information: Donated by the Union League of the Deaf, 1997.

Processed By: Begun by Corinne Palaia and Michael J. Olson, 2017, and completed by Christopher Shea, March 2018.

Processing Note:

Conditions on Use and Access: This collection is open to the public with no restrictions.

Related Material in the Archives


  • 45th Anniversary Banquet 1886-1931. Gallaudet University Archives, call number: Deaf Film 15-16
  • 75th Anniversary of the Union League of the Deaf Banquet, parts one and two. Gallaudet University Archives, call number: Deaf Film 23-16
  • Golden Jubilee Banquet – Union League of the Deaf 50th Anniversary, 1836-1936. Gallaudet University Archives, call number: Deaf Film 62-12
  • History of Union League of the Deaf and Buffalo NAD. Gallaudet University Archives, call number: Deaf Film 14-16


  • Collection, Union League of the Deaf, Inc., 1886-1986. Gallaudet University Archives, call number: MSS 069

Vertical Files

  • Frankenheim, Samuel. Gallaudet University Archives, call number: Deaf Biographical
  • Union League of the Deaf, Inc. Gallaudet University Archives, call number: Deaf Associations

Administrative History

The Union League for the Deaf was originally founded as the Deaf-Mutes’ Union League in New York City in 1886. Samuel Frankenheim, Adolph Pfeiffer, Charles Bothner, and Joseph Yankauer, all graduates of the Lexington School for the Deaf, decided to establish a social club with membership limited to other Lexington graduates. Frankenheim was elected as the group’s first president. The Union League held biweekly meetings, sponsored debates and lectures for its members, and held parties and balls to raise funds for deaf charities. The League also sent representatives to the International Congress of the Deaf in Paris, 1889, and to the National Association of the Deaf convention in 1889.

The Union League incorporated itself in 1901. Soon after, membership was opened to all deaf Americans rather than Lexington School graduates only, and the Union League grew rapidly. In 1932, the name of the group was officially changed to the Union League of the Deaf. It quickly became the largest deaf club in New York City and became closely related to the International Typographical Union (ITU); deaf printers who were members of the ITU used the Union League to socialize. Like other social clubs, the Union League suffered a decline in membership after the 1950s as interest in club membership declined, it is still an active organization today.

Scope and Content

While this is a small collection of mostly random items from the Union League, it does have some interesting materials for researchers studying the League. In particular, researchers will be interested in the duplicate membership roll book, which lists League members from founding to 1964. This collection also includes about half a dozen programs from League-sponsored banquets and parties, including anniversary events. Also of interest are photographs of the original four – Frankenheim, Pfeiffer, Bothner, and Yankauer – and some photos of early parties hosted by the Union League. The 100th-anniversary book material is also useful for those seeking information on the League’s founding and early years.

Series Descriptions

Series 1. Roll book, 1932-1964

Box 1

A book containing the Union League’s member lists with notes on membership status. This book was acquired in 1932 after the original member roll was destroyed in a fire and includes member lists going back to 1886, which were reconstructed from other records. Series 2 includes other member lists.

Series 2. Administrative materials, 1937-1979

Box 1

A small collection of items used in organizing and bookkeeping for the Union League. It includes photostats of the League’s articles of incorporation and correspondence and forms for the 1932 name change. It also includes some member lists with years of joining.

Series 3. Event materials, 1889-1971

Box 1

A collection of items from banquets, sporting events, and excursions sponsored by the Union League, mostly program books and tickets. It includes programs from banquets held on the League’s golden (1936), diamond (1961), and 85th (1971) anniversaries. It also includes souvenir programs from two Long Island Sound boat trips to raise money for the Gallaudet Home in upstate New York, from 1889 and 1893.

Series 4. Other clubs’ bylaws and handbooks, 1889-1969

Boxes 1-2

A collection of club bylaws, constitutions, and rulebooks from other social clubs, labor unions, and organizations, mostly from the New York area. It includes materials from both deaf and hearing groups, in particular deaf athletic groups such as the AAAD (American Athletic Association of the Deaf), ESDAA (Eastern Schools for the Deaf Athletic Association), EAAD (Eastern Athletic Association of the Deaf), and more. Unusual items include a Masonic manual for funeral services and an 1890 manual of parliamentary practice.

Series 5. Clippings and photographs, 1902-1960s

Box 2

A clipping collection includes a 1924 issue of the Deaf-Mutes’ Journal with a report on the New York Institution for the Deaf, and an undated page from The Silent Worker with photos of some Union League members. It also includes some photos from League events.

Series 6. Artifacts, undated

Box 3

Includes a large printing block with the Union League of the Deaf logo and a collection of member nameplates, apparently removed from a larger plaque.

Series 7. 100th anniversary book research materials, ca. 1986

Box 4

Articles (mostly copied from The Silent Worker), sample pages, and correspondence gathered for A Century of Progress, Mementos, and Journals, a book produced to celebrate the Union League’s 100th anniversary. It includes photographs of the four founding members, photographs of League presidents from 1886 to 1986, a list of anniversary banquets with locations from 1905 to 1986, and more.

1 1 Roll book 1932-1964
1 2 Correspondence and photostats of certificates for name change 1937
1 3 Labels for minutes books ca. 1979
1 4 Ladies’ Alpha Society plate Undated
1 5 List of framed photos for banquet Undated
1 6 Member lists ca. 1957
1 7 Program book from 85th Anniversary dinner 1971
1 8 Program book from anniversary ball 1928
1 9 Program book from Diamond Jubilee banquet 1961
1 10 Program book from Golden Jubilee banquet 1936
1 11 Program book from Grand Ball 1918
1 12 Program book from Spring Festival Dance 1929
1 13 Program book from vaudeville and ball 1914
1 14 Souvenir journal of excursion to visit Gallaudet Home 1889
1 15 Souvenir journal of excursion to visit Gallaudet Home 1893
1 16 Ticket for 3rd Annual Excursion 1892
1 17 Ticket for NYAAD basketball tournament 1969
1 18 Tickets for Diamond Jubilee 1961
1 19 Torn page from Silver Jubilee program 1911
1 20 AAAD Hall of Fame booklet 1950s
1 21 AAAD rules and regulations 1968
1 22 Australian Association for the Advancement of the Deaf constitution Undated
1 23 CAAD rules and regulations 1963
1 24 Cushing’s Manual of Parliamentary Practice 1890
2 1 EAAD rules and regulations 1969
2 2 ESDAA constitution and bylaws 1953
2 3 Harmonie Club handbook 1920
2 4 Knights of Pythias (Bay Ridge Lodge No. 630) bylaws Undated
2 5 Local Union 1546 bylaws Undated
2 6 Masonic burial manual 1901
2 7 New York Typographical Union #6 constitution and bylaws 1942
2 8 NFSD constitution and general laws ca. 1931
2 9 Silent Athletic Club constitution and bylaws ca. 1930
2 10 St. Ann’s Episcopal Church program for Sick and Poor Fund Entertainment 1889
2 11 Deaf-Mutes Journal, June 9, 1924 1924
2 12 Photographs 1902-1960s
2 13 Silent Worker clipping with member photos Undated
3 Printing block with Union League seal Undated
3 Name plates Undated
4 Research material and drafts for 100th anniversary book 1986

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