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Photograph of Curator Tabitha Jacques

This exhibit gives viewers a greater understanding of deaf history, and on a larger scale, of American history. Many leaders during Olof Hanson’s time worked together to preserve deaf history and culture. Hanson was a quiet yet effective leader. His life and work is shown in the exhibit, and it includes photographs and letters as mementos of a time that was part of the United States’ deaf history.

The exhibit examines life as a Deaf American in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Hanson reveals insight on the trials and tribulations of employment for deaf people, advocacy work in education, human rights, and the role of “Deaf Church” in preserving American Sign Language from extinction.

During Hanson’s time, cultural minorities in the United States were pressured into assimilation into the “White Protestant-ian” majority. English was considered the “sole” language, and sign language or any other language were not encouraged. At the same time, the experiment of achieving a more perfect race through selective breeding was becoming widespread. These two historical events impacted and shaped deaf history.

Tabitha Jacques

Exhibition Curator, Olof Hanson: Conspicuous Leader, 1862-1933