Deaf Studies, Culture, and History Archives

The Deaf Studies, Culture, and History Archives (DSA) was established to ensure that the cultural heritage and lives of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) and connected Deaf, DeafBlind, DeafDisabled, and hard of hearing (“Deaf”) communities are preserved. The DSA collects materials that will increase knowledge of the history and culture of NTID and connected Deaf community members, and strengthen identity formation and pride.

This significant repository of primary resources in all mediums documents the founding and growth of NTID and highlights the many remarkable contributions of Deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing individuals affiliated with NTID.  Since its creation, the DSA has grown to include collections that document Rochester's vibrant Deaf community.  Collection strengths include Deaf education, Deaf studies, Deaf theater, Deaf art, and technologies for the Deaf.

Among the notable collections:

NTID Records

This continuously growing collection includes records surrounding the founding of NTID, documents and memorabilia from the dedication of the Lyndon B. Johnson building, administrative records, photographs, slides, publications, posters for events at NTID, videotapes, films, newspaper clippings, and other printed records. Together they provide a picture of academic and cultural life at NTID. 

Robert Panara Collections
Recognized by the United States Post Office with a stamp in 2017, one of only five Rochesterians honored in this way, he was the first Deaf faculty member at NTID, and a key figure in the history of that college. Panara was hired in 1967 to assist in establishing NTID on RIT's campus.  He was instrumental in planning NTID's curriculum and preparing RIT's staff with ASL classes. He taught English at NTID and founded the Drama Club in 1970, which has grown into a full performing arts program with numerous productions yearly in the theater at NTID named in his honor. 
Robert Panara's collection of fiction, plays, mysteries, and romances featuring deaf characters was used in his literature classes for deaf students. A second collection features works by Deaf poets.  Videotapes related to his teaching career and lifelong passion for ASL poetry and Deaf theater include recordings of classroom lectures and performances as well as an interview with renowned Deaf actor Bernard Bragg. 

Ralph L. Hoag Collection

Papers, photographs, and publications of Ralph L. Hoag, who served as Executive Secretary to the National Advisory Board that established NTID. Hoag held many positions related to the education of the Deaf and spent 8 years as Superintendent of the Rochester School for the Deaf, from 1966-1974. Also found in the collection is research for his manuscript
The Origin and Establishment of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (1989) which details the work of the National Advisory Board in planning for NTID and the steps undertaken to choose the home campus that eventually brought the school to RIT.

Lee Brody New York-New Jersey Phone TTY Collection
Lee Brody, a pioneer in developing affordable TTY’s for the Deaf community, started a non-profit company called Phone-TTY. He sought out donations of teletypewriters, which he would refurbish and adapt for use with specially constructed modems, so that Deaf people could communicate over the telephone. He also developed the world's first Braille TTY for deaf-blind users to communicate by telephone. His company also designed and produced a line of assistive devices, including doorbell and phone ringing light signalers and wake up devices. The collection includes records of Phone TTY and actual equipment – such as a Phone TTY telephone signaler for use with the Helen Keller Tactile Communicator, various models of TTY couplers, and a pocket TTY and couplers. Company records include correspondence, invoices, logo artwork and advertisements. There is also a sample tape in Braille derived from the Braille TTY.

Works by Various Artists
This collection of original artworks by Deaf artists includes works by a number of well-known NTID graduates, including Susan Dupor, Rita Straubhaar, Robin Bartholick and Michael Joliffe as well as faculty members Paula Grcevic and Patti Durr. Also included are works by Uzi Buzalgo and Paul Johnston.  

There are numerous other collections related to Deaf history and culture, you can search our finding aids here: 

Finding Aids

You can find more details about the deaf art we have in the collections.

Deaf Art Collection

NTID Collage