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