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The University Magazine

From the Archives

Preserving and celebrating deaf education, NTID history

A repository for unique collections related to the history of deaf education and deaf culture – particularly at RIT – officially opened this spring this spring in Wallace Memorial Library.

The new Deaf Studies Archives includes items of historical and cultural interest.

Rochester has become an important center for  deaf culture and deaf education, and this developing collection will document the many activities of this vibrant community.

RIT’s new Deaf Studies Archive, created to honor the 40th anniversary of RIT becoming the home of National Technical Institute for the Deaf, houses historical documents related to the legislation, construction, and history of NTID as well as a variety of materials on deaf education, deaf studies, deaf theater and other aspects of deaf culture.  

Several important donations have already made their way to this growing collection. Robert Panara, the first deaf faculty member at NTID, donated a selection of his books, including literature, plays and mysteries featuring deaf characters. A large collection of administrative documents from the Empire State Association for the Deaf, which traces the history of this advocacy organization for the deaf back to 1936, is part of the collection.

Also included are transcripts and videotapes of interviews with “everyday deaf people” conducted by the late Eugene and Inez Petersen as the basis for a book they hoped to publish. Two NTID staff members published these oral histories on the Web (see

A growing collection of work by deaf artists includes examples by RIT graduates Susan Dupor and Robin Bartholick.     

“The intent of this important archive is to provide a primary resource for historians, researchers, faculty, students and interested community members,” says RIT Archivist Becky Simmons.

Those interested in more information about the archive should contact Simmons at