Friends of Libraries for Deaf Action  --
The Red Notebook

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Deaf Culture Calendar

A variety of primary sources, including professional resources, has been consulted for the accuracy of dates listed in the calendar. Names and events may be used as keywords by Internet searchers for additional information of their special interests.   

Please note that this list is not complete; we will be adding new entries at periodic and often intervals. We welcome your input.

Birth Anniversaries
All names listed here are heroes, inventors and/or achievers for making lasting contributions to society. All are deaf unless otherwise noted.

January 4, 1809 Louis Braille Died January 6, 1852  Born in Coupvray, France; last home address site: Paris
Inventor of braille in 1824  This world-wide reading system uses different formations of raised dots to denote different letters of the alphabet.  Unfortunately, the school in those days banned students from using it, but they still learned it in secret.

This blind experience was similar to deaf experience in the late 19th century and 20th century when many deaf children were forbidden to learn sign language but they still learned and used it outside the classroom.

Braille was hearing and blind; his invention also greatly benefits deaf people who are blind.

February 1, 1922 Frederick C. Schreiber Died September 5, 1979 Born in Brooklyn, NY Last home address site: Kensington, MD
Writer, editor, activist, and well known for his powerful and creative leadership; first Executive Director of the National Association of the Deaf serving from 1969 to 1979

His two famous sayings:  Ears are cheap. It’s what’s between the ears that counts and Deaf people can do anything that hearing people can do … except hear.

February 9, 1840 Laura Redden Searing  Died August 10, 1923  Born in Somerset County, MD  Last home address site: San Mateo, CA
Newspaper correspondent who once interviewed President Lincoln, Civil War generals and soldiers using pad and pencil

February 11, 1847 Thomas Alva Edison Died October 18, 1931 Born in Milan, OH Last home address site: Orange, NJ.
Inventor and scientist who received 1,093 patents and who said his deafness helped him concentrate on his experiments and research  
February 25, 1804 Thomas Brown Died March 23, 1886. Born in Henniker, NH, also his last home address site
First deaf American grassroots leader and a NAD seed planter in 1850s
First deaf politician in New Hampshire   Organized the first deaf convention in America on September 26, 1850

February 28, 1854 Edwin Allan Hodgson  Died August 13, 1933 Born in Manchester, England; last home address site: New York City
Second president and one of the three co-founders of NAD.   Known as the driving force behind the founding of the NAD.  Editor of Deaf Mutes’ Journal, one of the most popular, influential and widely read newspapers of its day

March 20, 1798 Sophia Fowler Gallaudet  Died May 13, 1877  Born in Guilford, CT; her last home address site: Hartford, CT 
Influential advocate to the US Congress on behalf of education of deaf people in the 1860s and who was known as "Queen of the Deaf Community"  Deaf wife of  Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet and mother of Edward Miner Gallaudet, first president of Gallaudet University  Died in Washington, DC when visiting his son.

March 21, 1900 David Peikoff  Died January 28, 1995  Born in Yanoschina, Polava Province, Russia; last home address site: Greenbelt, MD
Dynamic leader who was known to hold the office of many deaf organizations and for his remarkable career in fundraising

April 13, 1904  Byron Benton Burnes
 Died August 25, 1999. Born in Batavia, IA; his last home address site: Martinez, CA.
Taught many years at California School for the Deaf   Elected the 16th president of the National Association of the Deaf and remained president from 1946 to 1964, the longest presidential tenure so far. 

April 19, 1787 Erastus “Deaf” Smith Died November 30, 1837 Born near Poughkeepsie, NY; last home address site: Richmond, TX 
Chief scout and spy for a Texas army; Texas’s folk hero. He helped Texas get independence from Mexico. One county in Texas was named "Deaf Smith" after him.
220th birth anniversary in 2007

April 26, 1849 Robert P. McGregor  Died December 21, 1926  Born in Lockland, OH   Last home address site: Columbus, OH
First president and one of the three co-founders of NAD   Educator, administrator, writer, skilled orator and leader   Founder of the Ohio Home for the Aged and Infirm Deaf in 1896, now known as Columbus Colony

May 23, 1862  William Ellsworth Hoy  Died December 15, 1961. Born in Houcktown, OH; last home address site: Cincinnati, OH.
First deaf major leaguer. He taught his teammates signs which some have become useful for umpires throughout the world like “calling balls” and “strikes”

June 15, 1813 John Carlin  Died April; 23, 1891 Born in Philadelphia. Last home address site: New York City 
Artist, writer and advocate who contributed greatly to the cultural life of the deaf community in the 19th century

June 27, 1880 Helen Adams Keller  Died June 1, 1968 Born in Tuscumbia, AL  Last home address site: Westport, CT 
First deaf-blind author and lecturer who received many honors for her global advocacy on human rights
June 27, 1925 Andrew Jackson Foster  Died December 3, 1987. Born in Birmingham, AL; last home address site: Ibadan, Nigeria
American educator who founded thirty-one schools and many other programs for deaf people in thirteen African countries; first African American to graduate from Gallaudet College.

August 13, 1861 George W. Veditz  Died March 12, 1937  Born in Baltimore, MD; last home address site: Colorado Springs, CO
Writer, teacher, English-German translator, strong defender of ASL and politician  Once had a personal interview with US President Woodrow Wilson.   Seventh President of the NAD 

August 24, 1810  Edmund Booth  Died March 29, 1905. Born in Chicopee, MA
Last home address site: Anamosa, IA 
Author, newspaper publisher, pioneer settler, gold miner, teacher and one of three co-founders of the National Association of the Deaf

August 31, 1805 Alice Cogswell Died December 30, 1830 Born in Hartford, CT, also her last home address site
Daughter of Dr. Mason Fitch Cogswell and first pupil to enroll American School for the Deaf

September 12, 1934 Gilbert C. Eastman Died December 2, 2006 Born in Middletown, CT Last home address site: Bethany Beach, DE
Author, playwright, professor, artist, leader, expert on Laurent Clerc, mentor, "Man of Mosaics" in television, theatre and the deaf community He once gave a speech at the American Library Association

September 17, 1761 Dr. Mason Fitch Cogswell Died December 17, 1830 Born in Canterbury, CT: his last home address site: Hartford, CT  
First hearing father of a deaf child to advocate for quality education of deaf children in America One of the three cofounders of American School for the Deaf in Hartford, CT

December 16?, 1770 Ludwig van Beethoven Died March 26, 1827 Born in Bonn, Germany; last home address site: Vienna, Austria
Composed at total of nine symphonies, the 3rd - 9th all composed after he became deaf.

December 26, 1785 Laurent Clerc  Died July 18, 1869  Born in La Balme, France Last home address site: Hartford, CT 
First deaf teacher in America and a role mentor of many successful deaf teachers and leaders.  One of the three cofounders of American School for the Deaf in Hartford

Historical Events
By order of year
Having an impact on lives of deaf individuals, nationally and globally
  • Gallaudet University, formerly named National Deaf-Mute College and Gallaudet College, located in Washington, DC US
  • NAD refers to National Association of the Deaf, an organizational member of the World Federation of the Deaf
  • NTID refers to National Technical Institute for the Deaf, one of eight colleges of the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), located in Rochester, NY US
  • WFD refers to World Federation of the Deaf
  • others
April 15, 1817 -- Establishment of the first permanent public school in the Western Hemisphere for deaf students, now known as American School for the Deaf, located in Hartford, Connecticut. Laurent Clerc, Dr. Mason Fitch Cogswell and Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet were the school cofounders.

February 16, 1857 -- Columbia Institution for the Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb and the Blind, known as Kendall School,
opens. Founded by Amos Kendall Now a part of the Laurent Clerc Center of Gallaudet University

April 8, 1864 -- Charter signed by United States President Abraham Lincoln authorizing the Board of Directors of Gallaudet University to grant college degrees to deaf students.   Dr. Edward Miner Gallaudet and Amos Kendall were the cofounders of Gallaudet University

June 23, 1869 -- First Commencement of Gallaudet University, held at the First
Congregational Church in Washington, D.C John Carlin, the first deaf recipient awarded an honorary degree (Master of Arts)

August 25, 1880 -- First convention of the NAD which met in Cincinnati, Ohio Edmund Booth, Edwin A. Hodgson, and Robert P. McGregor were the co-founders of NAD, the first national membership organization in US to defend rights of deaf people to quality education, using sign language as their main communication medium.

June 26, 1889 -- The unveiling of Thomas H. Gallaudet and Alice statue at Gallaudet University by the National Association of the Deaf (US) during its 3rd convention in Washington, DC. In six years, its members had raised $13,000 for this statue.

June 27, 1889 -- Gallaudet University Alumni Association formed. Melville Ballard, first Gallaudet graduate from Class of 1866 was elected president GUAA became incorporated in 1908.

September 1951 -- World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) established in Rome, Italy.   Launched "International Day of the Deaf" on Sunday, September 28, 1958, now extended to the International Week of the Deaf, held annually in the last full week of September

Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults founded in Sands Point, NY  Authorized by Act of Congress Nat-Cent News published in large print and Braille and edited by Dr. Robert J. Smithdas.

May 9, 2002 --  History Through Deaf Eyes exhibition opens at the Smithsonian Institution’s Arts and Industrial Building in conjunction with the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC and remains open until September 22.  

(More to come)

Library Milestones
By order of year


American Library Association (ALA) founded in Philadelphia on October 6, 1876. 

Thomas Jefferson Memorial Building of the Library of Congress opens November 1, 1897. 
Two American educators, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet and Horace Mann, each have a mosaic piece in their name in the ceiling of the Gallery of Education.
The National Literary Society of the Deaf in Washington, D.C., established February 6, 1907 by six co-founders, officially becomes a partner of the Center for the Book, Library of Congress on March 13, 2007

Howard County Public Library founded in Columbia, Maryland, The Howard County Library American Sign Language Collection, July 2002   Special fund established in honor of George Veditz, the 7th president of the National Association of the Deaf.

Book: Signs of Silence: Bernard Bragg and the National Theatre of the Deaf, by Helen Powers

Book: The Forgotten People, by W.H. Woods, Sr. 

Clerc-Gallaudet Week
First Full Week in December
Formed December 1-7, 1974 by the D.C. Public Library in US
Former names:  Deaf Awareness Week, Deaf Action Week and Deaf Heritage Week
The week recognizes birth anniversaries of Laurent Clerc and Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet. (See Crossroads Annual Events)
Book:  Notable Deaf Persons, by Guilbert C. Braddock.   Edited by Florence B. Crammatte

A group of concerned librarians met in late June during the 100th anniversary of the American Library Association in Chicago to discuss a need to form a separate unit for deaf people

Book: Sign Language and the Deaf Community: Essays in Honor of William C. Stokoe, edited by Charlotte Baker and Robbin Battison, published in June, by the National Association of the Deaf

Book: Deaf Heritage: A Narrative History of Deaf America, by Jack R. Gannon, published in June, by the National Association of the Deaf

Book: A Rose for Tomorrow: Biography of Frederick C. Schreiber, by Jerome D. Schein, published by the National Association of the Deaf

Book: Black and Deaf in America: Are We that Different, by Ernest Hairston and Linwood Smith

Book: History of the College for the Deaf: 1857-1907, by Edward Miner Gallaudet. Edited by Lance J. Fischer and David L. de Lorenzo

Book: Out of Silence and Darkness: The History of the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind: 1958-1983, by Robert Hill Couch and Jack Hawkins, Jr.

Book: When the Mind Hears: A History of the Deaf, by Harlan Lane

Book: Everyone Here Spoke Sign Language: Hereditary Deafness on Martha’s Vineyard, by Nora Ellen Groce

Book: I Didn’t Hear the Dragon Roar, by Frances M. Parsons and Donna L. Chitwood

Book: Lessons in Laughter: The Autobiography of the Deaf Actor, by Bernard Bragg as signed to Eugene Bergman

Book: Deaf Women. A Parade Through the Decades, by Mabs Holcomb and Sharon Wood

Book: A Place of Their Own: Creating the Deaf Community in America, by John Vickrey Van Cleve and Barry A. Crouch

Book: Seeds of Disquiet: One Deaf Woman’s Experience, by Cheryl M. Heppner

FOLDA-NAD (now called Library Friends) formed as a section of the National Association of the Deaf July 4, 1994 in San Antonio, Texas

Book: Deaf Persons in the Arts and Sciences: A Biographical Dictionary, by Harry Lang and Bonnie Meath-Lang

Book: Great Deaf Americans: The Second Edition, by Matthew S. Moore and Robert F. Panara.

Deaf History Month

March 13 -- April 15
Formed 1997 by FOLDA in US   A spin-off from Clerc-Gallaudet Week
Since 2006, the American Library Association and National Association of the Deaf have been working together to have it proclaimed by the US President. It takes time. In the meantime mayors, county executives and governors are encouraged to proclaim the month in their local jurisdiction. (See Crossroads Annual Events)

Book: On His Deafness and Other Melodies Unheard, by Robert F. Panara

Book: Sign Me Alice & Laurent Clerc: A Profile/Two Deaf Plays
by Gilbert C. Eastman

Book: The Deaf Mute Howls, by Albert Ballin Introduction by Douglas C. Baynton

Book: On the Edge of Deaf Culture: Hearing Children/Deaf Parents. Annotated Bibliography by Thomas Bull

(More to come)

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