History Through Deaf Eyes – Deaf Clubs

In most cities, deaf people established clubs that became centers for social life. Some clubs owned their buildings, but most made do with a rented clubroom over a downtown store or bar.

A “Deaf club” was more than a place for card games and conversation. Clubs hosted social events as varied as holiday parties, lectures, fundraisers, plays, and performances by traveling deaf comedians. Clubs also sponsored athletic events and group outings.

Many deaf people stand.

Members of the Akron “Silent Club” pose for their 1919 photo. Clubs became the center of social life for many deaf people, and a place to learn the news of the day.

University of Akron Archives

Black Deaf people smileand  pose for a group photo.

Clubs from different cities occasionally held joint events, such as this May Dance of the Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Silents Clubs, in 1947.

National Black Deaf Advocates

A clip of an advertisement

Movies by deaf directors and producers, such as Dog Trouble, and captioned feature films brought large crowds to Deaf clubs.

Gallaudet University Archives