The National Deaf Life Museum opened its newest exhibition, “Hard Hit: Comparing Pandemics in the Deaf Community”, last month. This exhibition examines the experience of Gallaudet College during the 1918 “Spanish flu” pandemic and with the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. 

Trevor De Rosch, curator of the exhibition.
Trevor De Rosch, ’12, curator of the ‘Hard Hit’ exhibit.

“The term ‘Spanish Flu’ was a bad name for the 1918 pandemic,” explains curator Trevor De Rosch, ’12. “It started in the United States. However, Spain, a neutral country in World War I, reported honestly on the infection rates in its newspapers, leading many people to associate the 1918 influenza pandemic with Spain.”

This is the first time that De Rosch has curated an exhibit after nearly a decade working with the National Deaf Life Museum at Gallaudet University. He previously worked on numerous exhibits as a researcher and writer, including the “Gallaudet at 150 and Beyond” exhibit in Chapel Hall. After years of research, starting one week after the campus went remote at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, the “Hard Hit” exhibition covers the experience of the District of Columbia, Gallaudet University, and the Deaf community at large.

“It took a long time to figure out the scope of the exhibit,” says De Rosch. “I started with Gallaudet College and expanded to try and incorporate a variety of experiences.” Sources for the exhibit included annual reports, letters, newspapers, telegrams, and census records.

The exhibit, funded by the Office of the President, is open through December 2023 at the Weyerhaeuser Gallery in the I. King Jordan Student Academic Center, adjacent to the MarketPlace. 

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