MSS 64
Lau, Leonard Edward., 1905-1989
Papers of Leonard E. Lau, 1933-1983


Gallaudet University Archives

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Gallaudet University Archives
Call No.: MSS 64
Title: Papers of Leonard E. Lau, 1933-1983.
Quantity: 1.5 Linear Feet (3 document boxes)
Note: This document last updated 2006 January 3.

Administrative Information

Acquisition Information: The Leonard E. Lau collection was donated to the Gallaudet University Archives by Kevin Struxness, 1980, president of the San Diego chapter of the Gallaudet University Alumni Association on August 29, 1991.
Processed by: Nora L. McCabe. 1994 November 2.
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:


  • Leonard M. Lau [picture]. Gallaudet University Archives, Call Number: Portraits
  • Photograph album of John V. Wurdemann [picture]. Gallaudet University Archives, Call Number: Photograph Album AL 52
  • Photograph album of Reuben I. Altizer [picture]. Gallaudet University Archives, Call Number: Photograph Album AL 50


  • Harriett MacDonald, 1987-1999. Gallaudet University Archives, Call Number: SMSS
  • Leonard Lau, 1948-1967. Gallaudet University Archives, Call Number: SMSS

Vertical Files

  • Leonard Edward Lau. Gallaudet University Archives, Call Number: Deaf Biographical

Biographical Sketch
Leonard Edward Lau was born on December 29, 1905 in Iowa, the son of Will and Sena Lau. Deaf since 18 months from measles, he graduated from the Iowa School for the Deaf in 1925 as valedictorian. He received his bachelor's degree from Gallaudet University in 1930 and his master's degree from Iowa State College around 1948. He was an advocate of deaf driver education and is believed to be the first deaf person to graduate from driver education classes with the intent to teach.
While at Gallaudet, Lau was president of his preparatory class and was on the editorial staff of the Buff and Blue. He was a member of the Kappa Gamma fraternity and a member of the track team. He earned 25 cents an hour caring for Mrs. Hall's garden at the President's House on the campus. Mrs. Hall was the wife of Dr. Percival Hall, Gallaudet University's second president.

From 1937 to 1942, Lau was a cabinetmaker at the Northern Lumber Company in Iowa. He taught industrial arts at various schools for the deaf from 1942 to 1950, including the Washington State School for the Deaf, the North Dakota School for the Deaf, the Louisiana School for the Deaf, and the West Virginia School for the Deaf. In 1950, Lau began a 20 year career as an engraver for the Bureau of Engraving in Washington, D.C., retiring in 1970. During the 1960s, Lau operated a television repair business from the basement of his Bethesda, Maryland home. He was active in deaf affairs, serving as president of the D.C. chapter of the Gallaudet University Alumni Association. He also founded the D.C. Deaf Golfers' Association.

Upon retirement, he moved to San Diego, California, where he was the founding president of the San Diego chapter of the Gallaudet University Alumni Association in 1977. He enjoyed photography, film making, gardening, and numerous deaf activities. Lau was married to the former Ethel Koblenz ' 29 on May 1, 1954 and had a hearing son, Alan, who later became a professor of psychology at the Virginia Military Institute. Lau died on October 24, 1989 in San Diego following a stroke at the age of 83.

Scope and Content

Leonard Lau was an advocate for deaf driver education and held a lifelong interest in deaf affairs. The majority of the collection consist of papers related to driver education and alumni associations. There are several magazines journals, and newsletters from various schools for the deaf, which date from 1947 to 1983. Scrapbook pages are an interesting aspect of the collection, as they deal with deaf drivers education. Questionnaires about the policies of deaf institutions for drivers education are included, as well as a typed report of Lau' s findings. In addition, there are numerous papers related to the Gallaudet University Alumni Association, as well as memorabilia from his student days. Finally there are newspapers from around the country covering a wide range of topic, dated 1933 1983.The Leonard Lau collection provides an excellent insight into the field of deaf drivers education in its infancy. During the 1940s and 1950s, it was believed that deaf people could not drive because they could not hear. Lau proved that adage wrong. In addition, the collection gives an interesting perspective on deaf education and culture during a period of fifty years, from 1933 to 1983.

Series Descriptions and Folder Lists
No Series

Box Folder Title of Folder Date
1 1 Articles - written by Leonard Lau n.d.
1 2 Booklet - The Buff and Blue 1926-1951
1 3 Booklet - The Clerc Quarterly 1947
1 4 Booklet - "The Deaf and Hard of Hearing in the Occupational World" 1936
1 5 Booklet - "Government Employment for the College-Trained Deaf Person" 1952
1 6 Booklet - National Association of  the Deaf - Convention Proceedings 1920
1 7 Booklet - National Association of  the Deaf - Convention Proceedings 1937
1 8 Booklet - National Association of  the Deaf - Convention Proceedings 1940
1 9 Booklet - National Association of the Deaf - Convention Proceedings 1946
1 10 Booklet - National Association of the Deaf - Convention Proceedings 1964
1 11 Brochures - Drivers Education 1947-1949
1 12 Brochures - Gallaudet Miscellaneous ca. 1964-1965
1 13 Correspondence - Gallaudet University Alumni Association - Personal n.d.
1 14 Correspondence - Gallaudet University Alumni Association 1954-1964
1 15 Correspondence from Leonard Lau  1947
1 16 Correspondence from Leonard Lau  1947-1950
1 17 Correspondence to Leonard Lau 1947-1953
1 18 Correspondence - Personal 1954
2 1 Journal - The Frat [official publication of NFSD] 1949
2 2 Journal Articles - Driver Education [published] ca. 1940s
2 3 Magazines - The Banner (North Dakota School for the Deaf) 1945-1967
2 4 Magazines - The Pelican (Louisiana School for the Deaf) 1947
2 5 Magazines - Schools for the Deaf 1949-1950
2 6 Magazines - The Silent Worker  1949
2 7 Newsletter - Iowa School for the Deaf Alumni Newsletter 1983
2 8 Newsletter - The W.A.D. Pilot 1947
2 9 Newspaper Articles - Drivers Education 1949
2 10 Newspaper Articles - Leonard Lau 1948-1949
2 11 Notes - North Dakota School for the Deaf 1945-1948
2 12 Papers - Gallaudet University Alumni Association 1947
2 13 Papers - Miscellaneous 1946-1958
2 14 Papers - Miscellaneous - Drivers Education n.d.
2 15 Papers - Miscellaneous - Personal  n.d.
2 16 Program - 9th Annual Southeast Athletic Association for the Deaf Basketball Tournament  1955
2 17 Report - "For Classroom Instruction" ca. 1948
2 18 Reports - Gallaudet University Miscellaneous 1963
2 19 Scrapbook Pages - Drivers Education   1945-1949
2 20 Sketches - Personal 1948
2 21 Questionnaires (blank and filled) 1947


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