Mission

The Gallaudet University Archives is responsible for the institutional memory of the University and also strives to preserve the memory of the global Deaf Community.

Background

Given the nature of the University's mission, the Gallaudet University Library Deaf Collections and Archives works diligently to build, maintain and organize the world's largest collection of materials related to the Deaf Community, as well as the home to Gallaudet University's institutional records and the records of the Gallaudet family. Included in the collection are artifacts, photographs, films, papers, periodicals, books, and other items. While maintaining a comprehensive collection, the importance of preserving the records of the global Deaf Community and collaborating with other repositories to ensure the longevity of items is essential.

Vision

The Archives recognizes that it is one of the world’s leading centers of preservation, conservation, research, and access to the cultural memory of the global Deaf community. It supports Gallaudet University’s mission of bilingualism, diversity, and the intellectual and professional advancement of deaf and hard of hearing individuals in a rapidly-changing world.

To that end, the Archives will 1) Use various strategies to support and provide broad and continuing access to its resources to an ever-growing community of Deaf, hard-of-hearing, and signing past, current, and future researchers both on campus and off; 2) Manage, develop, and preserve its collections in accordance with best practices in collaboration with related units and experts within deaf communities to assure historical value and continuity; 3) Undertake a transformative digitization initiative that supports the previous two goals while offering access to the multifaceted histories of deaf communities around the world; and 4) Assure the highest standard of research assistance and support to researchers of signed languages, Deaf histories, and Deaf cultures of communities both in the United States and around the world.

Plan for 2026

Goal #1: Use various strategies to support and provide broad and continuing access to its resources to an ever-growing community of Deaf, hard-of-hearing, and signing past, current, and future researchers both on campus and off.


By June 2026, the Archives will...

  1. Increase curricular integration with participation in active courses numbering at least four per semester
  2. Develop partnerships with at least two on-campus research centers
  3. Seek and find at least two external funding opportunities to bring Archives collections to the public
  4. Establish a pipeline of future librarians/archivists, with at least one undergraduate student on course to enroll in and obtain an MLIS, using the following methods:
    1. Project-based internship opportunities
    2. Student employment
    3. Graduate assistants
  5. Update website to recenter Gallaudet-specific digital collections, increasing usage by at least 10%
  6. Integrate public-facing work with the Library and Museum in support of the goals of each unit, successfully completing at least two projects in conjunction with each unit

Goal #2: Manage, develop, and preserve Archive collections in accordance with best practices in collaboration with related units and experts within the Deaf community to assure historical value and continuity.


By June 2026, the Archives will...

  1. Leverage the relocation and renovation processes to:
    1. Assess the condition of Archives holdings
    2. Develop criteria for future deaccessioning and acquisitions, potentially in conjunction with expert guidance (e.g., deaf historians assisting in evaluating cultural or historical value of specific collections)
    3. Collect information about the extent, nature, and distribution of the holdings
    4. Update or expand finding aids as necessary
  2. Develop an advisory board including Deaf historians, librarians, archivists, and other experts in culturally-related fields to advise on collection development, outreach opportunities, and research synergies

Goal #3: Undertake a transformative digitization initiative that supports the previous two goals while offering access to the multifaceted histories of deaf communities around the world.


By June 2026, the Archives will...

  1. Achieve the following percentages digitized of the collection:
    1. Film/video: 25%
    2. Artwork: 75%
    3. Gallaudet Periodicals: 30%
    4. Photographs: 10%
  2. Begin a campaign to collect, organize, process, and preserve materials from communities underrepresented in the Archives, ranging from marginalized groups (DeafBlind and others) to POC communities.
  3. Investigate and create an institutional repository for Gallaudet-produced IP (e.g., white papers, policy position papers)
  4. Evaluate and identify high-use MSS and SMSS for future digitization via a third party
  5. Collect, evaluate, and identify born-digital objects, texts, images, and video produced as Gallaudet-owned IP to be archived
  6. Identify all on-campus units possessing their own “library” or “archive” and develop plans for either transitioning responsibility or providing limited support

Goal #4: Assure the highest standard of research assistance and support to researchers of signed languages, Deaf histories, and Deaf cultures of communities both in the United States and around the world.


By June 2026, the Archives will...

  1. Streamline and codify all policies and procedures for:
    1. Patron support
    2. Fee structures
    3. Staff responsibilities, redundancy, and support
    4. Communication expectations along the following lines:
      1. Archive staff->patron
      2. Archive staff->Archive staff
      3. Archive staff->collaborator
      4. Archive staff->member of other units in LAMP
    5. Acquisitions
      • Rights and usage
    6. Inventory control
    7. Collection management
    8. Emergency/inclement weather planning
  2. Establish baseline metrics of service for statistical reporting and data gathering