Manuscripts

MSS 198
Lankenau, Robert O., 1919-2000
The Robert O. Lankenau Papers, 1934-2000

Gallaudet University Archives


Descriptive Summary

Repository: Gallaudet University Archives
Call No.: MSS 198
Creator: Lankenau, Robert O., 1919-2000
Title: The Robert O. Lankenau Papers, 1934-2000
Quantity: 7.5 linear feet (13 document cases, 1 record box)  
Abstract: Personal papers of Robert O. Lankenau, longtime Firestone chemist and president of the National Association of the Deaf. Includes artifacts, correspondence, photographs, clippings, writings, TDD conversations, and more.
Note:
    
Administrative Information

Acquisition Information: Assembled from collections donated in 2004 and 2005. Processed By: Christopher Shea, July 2014.
Processing Note:
Conditions on Use and Access:  This collection is open to the public with no restrictions. Photocopies may be made for scholarly research.

Related Material in the Archives:

Films

·    Edward Miner Gallaudet Statue Dedication [motion picture]. Gallaudet University Archives, call number: Deaf Film 139-4


Manuscripts

·    Papers of Robert O. Lankenau, 1962-1979. Gallaudet University Archives, call number: MSS 93

·    Papers of Robert O. Lankenau, 1933-1998. Gallaudet University Archives, call number: MSS 149


SMSS

·     Robert O. Lankenau, 1942. Gallaudet University Archives, call number: SMSS



Vertical Files

·    Lankenau, Robert O. Gallaudet University Archives, call number: Deaf Biographical

       
Biographical Sketch

Robert O. Lankenau was born in 1919 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He became deaf at age 11 due to spinal meningitis, and in 1932 transferred to the Indiana School for the Deaf, where he completed his education. He attended Gallaudet College afterward, graduating in 1942 with a BS in chemistry and mathematics.

Mr. Lankenau settled in Akron, Ohio, and began working for the Firestone-Bridgestone Tire and Rubber Company as a junior chemist. Over the course of 43 years of employment with them, he eventually advanced to senior chemist, overseeing their industrial hygiene department. He married Betty Jean Martens, a classmate from the Indiana School, and they had two daughters together.

He was very active in local and national deaf organizations, including the National Association for the Deaf. He was a board member of the NAD and held several different officer positions within the organization, including serving as president from 1968 to 1972. It was under his presidency that the NAD purchased its long-time headquarters at Halex House in Maryland. Mr. Lankenau also helped found the Ohio Association of the Deaf and was at different times a board member, president, and secretary.

Other groups Mr. Lankenau participated in included the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (he helped found the RID chapter in Ohio), the National Fraternal Society of the Deaf, ODARA, and National Telecommunications of the Deaf, also known as Tele-Deaf Inc. (TDI). He was also well known in the Ohio state government, where he served on or testified before many committees on deafness and disability services. While a member of Ohio's Public Utilities Commission, he helped to create a statewide telephone relay system. 

In 1991, after the death of his wife, Mr. Lankenau remarried to Marlene Ronchen and had a daughter with her. The last five years of his life were spent assisting with research projects for various departments and faculty members at Gallaudet.

Mr. Lankenau passed away in 2000.

Scope and Content

Most of the material in this series is from later in Mr. Lankenau's life and career, from the mid-1980s through 2000. There is relatively little material related to his work at NAD or his employment at Firestone.

Many of these papers are drawn from Mr. Lankenau's work related to telephone and relay service in Ohio, including records from various government and phone company commissions and advisory boards he served on. Related material includes correspondence from his work at TDI, mostly concerned with the selling and/or servicing TDDs.

Also included is correspondence and other material from some projects Mr. Lankenau worked on during his latter years, including research assistance for Jack R. Gannon's history of the World Federation of the Deaf and a project with Dr. Ben Bahan to collect speeches by well-known deaf leaders.

These papers also include many photos from Mr. Lankenau's life, most of them taken during his college days at Gallaudet. There is also a large collection of plaques and certificates that he was awarded by various deaf groups.

Series Descriptions

Series 1. Personal papers, 1940-2000
Box 1
This series includes news clippings Mr. Lankenau collected about himself and his family, some autobiographical sketches he wrote, course materials for his teaching at the University of Akron, and a collection of personal emails, correspondence, and notes on projects

Series 2. Indiana State School for the Deaf publications and papers, 1934-1988
Box 1
Yearbooks from ISD, including Mr. Lankenau's and Betty Jean Lankenau's graduation years, plus a typed manuscript of the former yearbook. Also included are two copies of ISD's newspaper, The Hoosier:  Mr. Lankenau's graduation number and a later issue with an article he wrote on careers in chemistry for the deaf. A certificate of congratulations he received as a student at ISD is also present.
 
Series 3. Gallaudet emails and memorabilia, 1939-2000
Boxes 1-2
Material from Mr. Lankenau's time at Gallaudet, both as a student and later as a member of the Gallaudet community. Includes emails from Gallaudet staff and administration; a certificate for his sports letter; Kappa Gamma membership certificates for himself and Robert Sampon; two early volumes of the Tower Clock yearbook; and programs from plays and shows that Mr. Lankenau was a part of, among other things. For more on the last, see series 20.
 
Series 4. GUAA correspondence and reunion papers, 1942-1998
Box 2
Material from Mr. Lankenau's membership in the GUAA, mostly programs and correspondence from the Class of 1942's 55th reunion in 1997 and Gallaudet's 36th triennial reunion in 1998.
 
Series 5. Akron and Ohio deaf group papers, 1962-1997
Box 2
This series is a collection of materials from various groups in the Akron region, such as the local chapters of the NFSD and Ohio Association for the Deaf, as well as the Akron Club of the Deaf. Also included are a few items from other parts of Ohio. Of particular interest is a file of correspondence and legal documents related to a 1990 conflict in the Akron Club of the Deaf over the purchase of real estate.
 
Series 6. Firestone materials, 1978-1983
Box 2
A small collection of items related to Mr. Lankenau's career at Firestone, including company newsletters with articles about him.
 
Series 7. AAAD programs and badges, 1969-1994
Box 2
Programs from the American Athletic Association of the Deaf's 25th and 50th anniversaries, as well as identification badges for Mr. Lankenau and Marlene Lankenau at the 50th anniversary.
 
Series 8. NAD correspondence and Junior NAD items, 1968-1973
Box 3
Items from Mr. Lankenau's NAD presidency, including correspondence on NAD's book sales (which began during his term) and a certificate and place card from the Junior NAD.
 
Series 9. Ohio Commission for the Deaf records, 1979-1985
Box 3
Records from the Ohio government concerning the establishment of an Ohio Commission for the Deaf, including draft texts of bills and reports from consultants. Also includes some of Mr. Lankenau's correspondence with politicians and other activists for the deaf about the commission.
 
Series 10. Public Utilities Commission of Ohio records on telephone service and relay, 1990-1996
Box 3
Reports and some correspondence commissioned by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) on the topic of universal access to telephone service. Mr. Lankenau served on a Communicatively Impaired Advisory Board created by the commission, and this series includes some material produced by that board as well. See also series 13 for more on PUCO's work on relay service.
 
Series 11. TDI Records, 1972-1998
Box 4
Mr. Lankenau was one of the founding members and a president of Tele-Deaf Inc. (TDI), a company founded to obtain, sell, and repair/recondition TDDs for the deaf community. This series includes TDI board minutes, correspondence (mostly about TDD sales and repair), and printed-out texts of TDD conversations Mr. Lankenau had about TDI business.
 
Series 12. Ohio Relay Service records, 1992-1998
Boxes 4-5
The bulk of this series consists of monthly service reports and training materials for CAs (communications assistants). The latter were used to educate CAs on deaf culture and TDD use. Some training material from Michigan's relay service, which Ohio used as a model for its own system, is included here.
 
Series 13. Telephone Relay Service Consumers Advisory Group records, 1996-1998
Box 5
The Telephone Relay Service Consumers Advisory Group was created by PUCO (see series 10) to provide advice and oversight on the implementation of relay service in Ohio. Mr. Lankenau was a member, and most of this series consists of correspondence and e-mails among group members. The most common topic is proposals for relay service presented by telephone companies such as Ameritech (see series 14) and Sprint.
 
Series 14. Ameritech Universal Service Advisory Committee minutes and reports, 1995-1997
Boxes 5-6
Ameritech was the local telephone service provider for several Midwestern states, including Ohio, from 1984 to 1998. The committee referenced in this series was created by Ameritech to help extend its services to those who had difficulty with telephone use, including the elderly, low-income, and disabled. Mr. Lankenau served as the deaf community's representative on this committee. See series 13 and 15 for more on Ameritech.
 
Series 15. TTY Distribution Program records, 1994-1997
Box 6
Ameritech (see series 14) created a program to make low-cost TDDs available to customers who could not normally afford one. This series includes brochures and fliers on the program, as well as correspondence, e-mails, and TDD conversations from a PUCO (see series 13) subcommittee created to monitor the program.
 
Series 16. Community Services for the Deaf records, 1991-1994
Box 6
Records from an advisory committee on deaf services created by the Family Services Department of Ohio's Summit County. Mr. Lankenau was a member of this committee. Includes committee minutes, correspondence, and a manual on the functions and policies of the advisory committee.
 
Series 17. Speeches project correspondence and notes, 1996-2000
Boxes 6-7
Later in life, Mr. Lankenau worked with Dr. Ben Bahan of Gallaudet and the Gallaudet Archives on a project to collect texts of speeches by prominent members of the deaf community. Most of this series consists of letters and e-mails from Mr. Lankenau to those chosen for this project, as well as some contact lists and notes.
 
Series 18. Gannon book project e-mails and notes, 1999-2000
Boxes 7-8
Mr. Lankenau also assisted Dr. Jack R. Gannon in compiling information for his history of the World Federation of the Deaf. This series is mostly correspondence between Mr. Lankenau and various groups affiliated with the WFD, requesting details on their history and activities.
 
Series 19. Publications, 1942-1969
Box 8
A small collection of booklets acquired by Mr. Lankenau, including ones signed by Ben Schowe and the prominent chemist Otto Eisenschiml.
 
Series 20. Photographs, 1930s-1973
Boxes 8-9
The bulk of this series is black-and-white snapshots from Mr. Lankenau's time as a Gallaudet student, arranged by subject. This includes some photos from stage shows that Mr. Lankenau played in (see series 3 for more) and other student activities, as well as campus and classroom photographs. There are a few photos from later in Mr. Lankenau's life, including photos from his 35th year of service party at Firestone in 1975.
 
Series 21. Objects, 1967-1990
Boxes 10-14
Most of this series consists of framed certificates and plaques given to Mr. Lankenau by the various deaf groups he worked with, including the NAD, Ohio Association of the Deaf (OAD), and TDI. Also includes some pieces of older TDD technology, including modems and an Ultratec Minicom TDD.

Series Description and Folder Lists

BoxFolderTitleDate(s)
1 1 Autobiographical sketches 1998
1 2 Bernard G. Davidson business card Undated
1 3 Biographical drafts and clippings 1968-1998
1 4 Clippings and photographs on awards 1983-1992
1 5 Family and other memorabilia 1940-1970
1 6 Newspaper clipping with mother's obituary 1970
1 7 Obituary and eulogies for Robert Sherman Harper 1999
1 8 Personal correspondence 1970-1997
1 9 Personal emails 1998-2000
1 10 Personal emails with jokes 1999-2000
1 11 Personal notes Undated
1 12 Sabrina Baltenbach-Lankenau name change form 1994
1 13 Syllabi and notes for courses at University of Akron 1989-1996
1 14 Indiana State School for the Deaf certificate 1934
1 15 Indiana State School for the Deaf history, 1843-1944 1988
1 16 Indiana State School for the Deaf newspapers 1937, 1956
1 17 Indiana State School for the Deaf yearbooks 1937-1938
1 18 Typescript of Indiana State School for the Deaf yearbook 1937
1 19 Correspondence and emails on graduate fellowship fund 1999
1 20 Emails and releases from Gallaudet 1996-2000
1 21 Gallaudet commencement invitation Undated
1 22 GCAA sports letter certificate 1940
1 23 Kappa Gamma membership certificates and card 1940-1941
1 24 Lithograph of Ole Jim 1991
2 1 Memorabilia from Gallaudet 1939-1983
2 2 Programs from events at Gallaudet 1996-1998
2 3 Tower Clock yearbooks 1941-1942
2 4 Correspondence and TDD texts on GUAA and Class of 1942 reunion 1997
2 5 Gallaudet Alumni Association membership certificate 1942
2 6 GUAA and Class of 1942 55th reunion correspondence and bylaws 1997-1998
2 7 GUAA badge and programs 1997-1998
2 8 Akron chapter of Ohio Association of the Deaf materials 1991-1997
2 9 Akron Club of the Deaf correspondence and legal filings 1990
2 10 Akron deaf materials 1985, 1993
2 11 Akron NFSD chapter sign and program 1962
2 12 Akron Rubber Group 50th anniversary program 1978
2 13 Clippings on Lankenau cottage Undated
2 14 Firestone newsletters 1979-1981
2 15 Laboratory accreditation application 1983
2 16 AAAD 50th National Basketball Tournament badges 1994
2 17 AAAD 25th anniversary program 1969
2 18 AAAD 50th anniversary programs 1994
3 1 Correspondence on NAD book sales 1971-1973
3 2 Junior NAD award certificate 1968
3 3 Junior NAD place card Undated
3 4 Correspondence and bills on establishment of the Ohio Commission for the Deaf 1979-1985
3 5 Ohio General Assembly bills on Ohio Commission for the Deaf 1979-1984
3 6 Legislative Service Commission reports on Ohio Commission for the Deaf 1983-1984
3 7 Reports on establishment of Ohio Commission for the Deaf 1983-1984
3 8 Correspondence with Public Utilities Commission of Ohio 1995-1996
3 9 Public Utilities Commission of Ohio consumer's guide 1990
3 10 Public Utilities Commission of Ohio correspondence and releases on Communicatively Impaired Advisory Board 1991-1992
3 11 Public Utilities Commission of Ohio reports and correspondence on relay service 1991-1992
3 12 Public Utilities Commission of Ohio reports on telephone services 1992-1999
3 13 Public Utilities Commission of Ohio reports on telephone services 1995-1996
3 14 Public Utilities Commission of Ohio requests for proposal on relay service 1992-1996
4 1 Correspondence and TDD texts on TDI 1986-1995
4 2 Correspondence and TDD texts on TDI real estate 1991
4 3 Correspondence on TDI 1992-1998
4 4 Correspondence on TDI sales and repairs of TDDs 1980-1983
4 5 Reports on federal telecommunications bills 1992
4 6 TDD texts with Wendy Woods on TDI 1992
4 7 TDI bylaws Undated
4 8 TDI convention programs 1974-1985
4 9 TDI minutes and photos 1972-1974
4 10 Clipping on Ohio Relay Service 1993
4 11 Michigan Relay Center deaf culture training materials Undated
4 12 Ohio Relay Service annual report 1993
4 13 Ohio Relay Consumer Committee minutes 1998
4 14 Ohio Relay Service ad copy 1992
4 15 Ohio Relay Service business card and logo Undated
4 16 Ohio Relay Service guides Undated
4 17 Ohio Relay Service monthly reports 1993-1998
4 18 Ohio Relay Service newsletter 1995
5 1 Ohio Relay Service training guide 1992
5 2 Ohio Relay Service training guide 1992
5 3 TDD conversations on Ohio telephone service Undated
5 4 TDD interview on relay service 1993
5 5 Telephone Relay Service Consumers Advisory Group bid meeting agenda and handouts 1997
5 6 Telephone Relay Service Consumers Advisory Group correspondence and reports 1996-1998
5 7 Telephone Relay Service Consumers Advisory Group correspondence and reports on proposals 1997
5 8 Ameritech brochure and press release on deaf services 1991
5 9 Ameritech Universal Service Advisory Committee minutes and correspondence 1995-1997
5 10 Ameritech Universal Service Advisory Committee minutes and reports 1995
6 1 Ameritech Universal Service Advisory Committee minutes and reports 1995-1996
6 2 Ameritech Universal Service Advisory Committee minutes and reports 1995-1996
6 3 Ameritech Universal Service Advisory Committee minutes and reports 1996
6 4 TTY Distribution Program release and brochures 1997
6 5 TTY Distribution subcommittee correspondence and minutes 1994-1996
6 6 Community Services for the Deaf correspondence 1991-1992
6 7 Community Services for the Deaf correspondence and manual 1991-1994
6 8 Community Services for the Deaf minutes 1991-1992
6 9 Correspondence and contact lists for speeches project 1997-1998
7 1 Correspondence and texts for speeches project 1996-1998
7 2 Correspondence on speeches project 1997-1998
7 3 Notes on speeches project 2000
7 4 Emails and notes for Gannon book project 1999-2000
7 5 Emails and research materials for Gannon book project 1999-2000
7 6 Emails on Gannon book project 1999-2000
7 7 Emails on Gannon book project 1999-2000
8 1 Gannon book project draft Undated
8 2 Notes on Gannon book project Undated
8 3 Deaf Workers on the Home Front booklet autographed by Ben Schowe 1969
8 4 The Chemist in Three Wars booklet autographed by Otto Eisenschiml 1942
8 5 The Silent Men booklet Undated
8 6 Personal photographs Undated
8 8 x 10 prints 1937-1975
8 35th year of service party at Firestone 1993
8 Baseball World Series Undated
8 Biology classroom Undated
8 Buildings at Gallaudet Undated
8 Camping Undated
8 Convention Undated
8 Dorm life Undated
8 Drama - Arsenic and Old Lace Undated
8 Dramas Undated
8 Faculty Undated
8 Family/personal Undated
8 Gallaudet Day Undated
8 Gallaudet pharmacy store Undated
8 Gallaudet 75th anniversary 1939
8 General personal photos Undated
8 Graduation Undated
8 Hazing at Gallaudet Undated
8 Kappa Gamma fraternity Undated
8 Holiday cards Undated
8 Inaugural parade Undated
8 Indiana School for the Deaf Undated
9 Lectures Undated
9 Parties Undated
9 Portraits Undated
9 Sadie Hawkins Day Undated
9 Snow Undated
9 Sports Undated
9 Squirrel Undated
9 Student activities Undated
9 Student groups Undated
9 Trips Undated
9 Tug o' war Undated
9 World War II Gallaudet campus Undated
10 American Athletic Association of the Deaf patch 1967
10 NAD centennial convention charms (x5) 1980
10 NAD Knights of the Flying Fingers framed certificate 1964
10 ISD Alumnus of the Year plaque 1973
10 Ohio Association of the Deaf plaque 1975
10 TDI president's gavel and plaque 1976-1977
11 Ohio Association of the Deaf president's gavel and plaque 1978-1981
11 Ohio Association of the Deaf Boyd D. Hume Award plaque 1979
11 Keys to Keller, Lankenau, and Rudolph cottages on plaques (x2) 1979
11 Certificate of appreciation 1983
11 Ohio Association of the Deaf special award plaque 1985
12 TDI president's gavel and plaque 1983-1985
12 Delaware Valley Telecommunications for the Deaf Ralph Harwood Memorial Award 1985
12 Kent State University recognition certificate 1986
12 Firestone Technical League first place award 1986
12 Ohio School for the Deaf Adult Leadership Award 1990
12 NAD building fund certificate Undated
13 Akron Council Engineering and Scientific Societies (ACESS) distinguished award 1981
14 FAD award from 1972 NAD convention 1972
14 Phone-TTY modem (x2) Undated
14 Phonetype modem Undated
14 Ultratec Minicom IV Undated
14 American Athletic Association of the Deaf silver anniversary ashtray 1969
14 Gallaudet University pennant Undated