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MSS 198Lankenau, Robert O., 1919-2000The Robert O. Lankenau Papers, 1934-2000Gallaudet University Archives
Descriptive SummaryRepository: Gallaudet University ArchivesCall No.: MSS 198Creator: Lankenau, Robert O., 1919-2000Title: The Robert O. Lankenau Papers, 1934-2000Quantity: 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 InformationAcquisition 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 139-4Manuscripts· 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 149SMSS· Robert O. Lankenau, 1942. Gallaudet University Archives, call number: SMSSVertical Files· Lankenau, Robert O. Gallaudet University Archives, call number: Deaf Biographical Biographical SketchRobert 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 ContentMost 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 DescriptionsSeries 1. Personal papers, 1940-2000Box 1This 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 projectsSeries 2. Indiana State School for the Deaf publications and papers, 1934-1988Box 1Yearbooks 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, 1939-2000Boxes 1-2Material 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, 1942-1998Box 2Material 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, 1962-1997Box 2This 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, 1978-1983Box 2A 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, 1969-1994Box 2Programs 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, 1968-1973Box 3Items 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, 1979-1985Box 3Records 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, 1990-1996Box 3Reports 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, 1972-1998Box 4Mr. 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, 1992-1998Boxes 4-5The 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, 1996-1998Box 5The 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, 1995-1997Boxes 5-6Ameritech 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, 1994-1997Box 6Ameritech (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, 1991-1994Box 6Records 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, 1996-2000Boxes 6-7Later 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, 1999-2000Boxes 7-8Mr. 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, 1942-1969Box 8A small collection of booklets acquired by Mr. Lankenau, including ones signed by Ben Schowe and the prominent chemist Otto Eisenschiml. Series 20. Photographs, 1930s-1973Boxes 8-9The 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, 1967-1990Boxes 10-14Most 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
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