MSS 218
Garretson, Mervin D., 1923-2013
The Mervin D. Garretson Papers, 1963-1989

Gallaudet University Archives

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Gallaudet University Archives
Call No.: MSS 218
Creator: Garretson, Mervin D., 1923-2013
Title: The Mervin D. Garretson Papers, 1963-1989
Quantity: 21 boxes (10.5 linear feet)
Abstract: Papers of deaf activist, educator, and administrator Mervin D. Garretson. Includes correspondence, speeches, reports, articles and clippings, essays and publications, and more.
Note: This document last updated May 2017.

Administrative Information

Acquisition Information: Donated to the Archives by Stephen Weiner.
Processed By: Christopher Shea, May 2017.
Processing Note:
Conditions on Use and Access: This collection is open to the public with no restrictions.

Related Material in the Archives

Manuscripts

• Collection, Junior National Association of the Deaf, 1967-1988. Gallaudet University Archives, call number: MSS 94


Photographs

• Assorted photographs of Mervin D. Garretson. Gallaudet University Archives, call number: Portraits

Vertical Files

• Garretson, Merv. Gallaudet University Archives, call number: Deaf Biographical

Video

• Twelfth Commencement, Model Secondary School for the Deaf, June 15, 1990. Gallaudet University Archives, call number: Deaf Film
• Model Secondary School for the Deaf 1994 commencement. Gallaudet University Archives, call number: Deaf Film


Biographical Sketch

Born in 1923 in Sheridan, Wyoming, Merv Garretson became deaf after contracting spinal meningitis in 1928. He attended the Colorado School for the Deaf and Gallaudet College, graduating with a bachelor's degree in 1947. He went on to teach at the Maryland School for the Deaf and then was hired in 1949 as the principal of the Montana School for the Deaf. In 1955, he earned a master's degree from the University of Wyoming, and he also pursued a doctorate in English at the University of Maryland.

In 1962, Garretson joined the Gallaudet faculty. When the Model Secondary School for the Deaf was founded in 1971, Garretson was tapped as its first principal. He went on to become assistant dean for pre-college programs, and served for many years as a special assistant to four Gallaudet presidents (Merrill, Johns, Lee, and Jordan) before stepping down in 1989. That year, he was also chairman of The Deaf Way, an international cultural festival that brought attention to deaf art and culture and is regarded as the birthplace of the De'VIA art movement.

Garretson was also active in many deaf organizations, particularly the National Association for the Deaf. In 1960, he helped found the Junior NAD and became its first national director, and was elected NAD President for a two-year term in 1976. He was later selected to become interim executive director of the NAD in 1989. He was also a board member of the World Federation of the Deaf from 1967 to 1971, and served as an expert on education for the WFD.

A widely respected writer, poet, speaker, and world traveler, Garretson was a leading figure in the deaf community and a well-known advocate for deaf issues in the hearing world. He published his autobiography in 2010, and passed away in 2013. Gallaudet maintains a scholarship fund named for Garretson and his wife, Carol.

Scope and Content

These papers deal mostly with Garretson's work as an assistant to Gallaudet's presidents, and to a lesser extent his work as an advocate for the deaf and a leader of the deaf community. There is nothing related to his earlier life or his work at MSSD, and only a small amount of material from his work at The Deaf Way.

Garretson's correspondence as presidential assistant is arranged in several series based on the recipients, reflecting his original arrangement. There is only a small amount of correspondence between Garretson and two of the presidents he served, Merrill and Lee; most of the rest is with various people and groups that are seeking help or advice from the Office of the President. Of possible interest is a large collection of reports from Gallaudet's Deafness-Related Concerns Council from the late 1970s and early 1980s.

There is also some material related to Garretson's work at the NAD and a smaller amount from the WFD. The NAD material includes board minutes, convention records, and publications and position papers. The WFD material is mostly publications by the group, but it does include some material from their Commission on Pedagogy, where Garretson served.

These papers also include the text of numerous speeches and papers that Garretson gave at events around the country. While this is far from a complete collection of Garretson's writing, it does help give a picture of the issues he worked on, and the issues that were of the most concern to the deaf community in the 1980s. In particular, there is extensive material on Public Law 94-142, which affected the placement of deaf children in school, and other laws governing deaf education.

Series Descriptions

Series 1. Presidential assistant correspondence, 1976-1989
Boxes 1-3
Correspondence and other materials related to Garretson's work as a special assistant to several of Gallaudet's presidents. See series 3, 4, and 6 for further correspondence. Includes correspondence with Presidents Edward C. Merrill and Jerry Lee, and correspondence and reports with various departments and organizations around campus.

Series 2. NAD and WFD papers, 1977-1988
Boxes 3-5
Correspondence, reports, convention minutes, publications, and other materials related to Garretson's work with the National Association for the Deaf and the World Federation of the Deaf. Includes minutes and reports from the NAD board of directors, as well as some material from the 1982, 1984, and 1986 NAD conventions.

Series 3. Alphabetical correspondence file, 1976-1989
Boxes 6-7
File of correspondence, mostly with individuals, arranged alphabetically by correspondent's surname. Most is to or from Garretson in his capacity as assistant to the president.

Series 4. Geographical correspondence file, 1977-1989
Boxes 7-9
Another file of correspondence, also related to Garretson's work as assistant to the president. This file is arranged alphabetically by the location of the correspondent - mostly US states, but there is some international material as well. Most of this correspondence is to various state entities, such as schools and state government agencies. Note that one file from Pennsylvania is closed because it includes the audiograms of a student, which are considered confidential medical records.

Series 5. Organizational records, 1967-1989
Boxes 10-13
A collection of correspondence, reports, publications, and other materials from various organizations. Most are groups related to deafness, including the National Theatre of the Deaf, DCARA, the Canadian Hearing Society, and the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf. However, this series also includes material from groups related to general disability issues, including the AARP, FDA, Disabled American Veterans, and the President's Committee on Employment of the Handicapped.

Series 6. Deafness-Related Concerns Council reports and correspondence, 1979-1986
Boxes 13-14
The DRCC was an organization of deaf faculty and staff at Gallaudet organized to bring the attention of the (then mostly hearing-dominated) administration to issues of access, communication, and training that they felt were being neglected. Garretson was not a member of the DRCC but as assistant to the president, he often interacted with the group. In 1986, President Lee gave the DRCC a formal position in his administration as the President's Council on Deafness. This series includes minutes of DRCC meetings, reports written by the DRCC on issues they wanted addressed, and some correspondence.

Series 7. Advocacy materials, 1969-1986
Boxes 15-16
A collection of articles, correspondence, reports, and other items related to issues of interest to the deaf. Topics covered include education, closed captioning, deaf drivers, cued speech, cochlear implants, and more. Includes speeches and papers delivered by Garretson on deafness, deaf children, and advocacy on deaf issues. See series 8 and 9 for more of Garretson's work in this area.

Series 8. PL 94-142 and other educational materials, 1975-1988
Boxes 17-19
Public Law 94-142, also known as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, was signed by President Ford in 1975. While it expanded the educational opportunities available for disabled children, its provision that children should be placed in the "least restrictive environment" often sparked battles between deaf parents and school boards over what type of education was best for deaf children. This series includes fact sheets, notes, and reports on PL 94-142 and other laws governing deaf education; clippings and documents from the cases of Amy Rowley and Sherry Grace; and papers and speeches by Garretson on the topic of deaf education. See series 9 for more on law and the deaf.

Series 9. Legal articles and documents, 1963-1986
Boxes 19-21
A collection of articles, papers, speeches, and court documents on issues related to law, legislation, and the deaf. Includes some materials related to laws governing deaf education, including PL 94-142 (see series 8). Also of interest is a collection of testimony and comments on a 1978 bill in the US Congress to provide for nationwide training of sign language interpreters, as well as materials on mental health, rehabilitation, and barriers to handicapped access.

Table
BoxFolderNameYear(s)
1 1 Bernard Bragg correspondence 1977-1984
1 2 Career Information Registry forms Undated
1 3 Citations and programs from commencement 1984-1985
1 4 Correspondence and catalogs on continuing education 1980-1988
1 5 Correspondence and reports on central administration 1985-1986
1 6 Correspondence and zoning for Northwest Campus 1982-1983
1 7 Correspondence on bookstore 1988
1 8 Correspondence on compensation system 1988
1 9 Correspondence on honorary board for The Deaf Way 1988
1 10 Correspondence on MSSD 1976-1986
1 11 Correspondence on The Deaf Way 1988-1989
1 12 Development office correspondence 1988
1 13 Edward C. Merrill correspondence 1980
1 14 Gallaudet Research Institute reports and minutes 1980-1982
2 1 General correspondence 1978-1986
2 2 Goals and deadlines 1977-1980
2 3 Honorary degree citations 1985-1989
2 4 International Student Services correspondence 1985
2 5 Jerry Lee correspondence 1984-1987
2 6 Letters of acknowledgment 1979-1989
2 7 Letters of acknowledgment 1979-1989
2 8 Liaison team correspondence 1980-1981
2 9 National Academy correspondence and minutes 1980-1984
3 1 Office of Business Affairs correspondence 1980-1984
3 2 Office of Planning reports 1980
3 3 Outreach Council correspondence and reports 1981-1986
3 4 "Peggy" [Frances] Parsons correspondence 1979-1986
3 5 Position papers 1979-1982
3 6 Reference letters 1981-1987
3 7 Report on institutional research 1986
3 8 Report on National Center for Law and the Deaf 1984
3 9 Reports and correspondence on Kendall Schol 1976-1982
3 10 Student Body Government correspondence 1984-1987
3 11 NAD board reports and minutes 1980
3 12 NAD board reports and minutes 1981
3 13 NAD board reports and minutes 1981-1982
4 1 NAD budget reports 1980-1982
4 2 NAD bylaws 1979
4 3 NAD correspondence 1975-1983
4 4 NAD feasibility study and press release on branch office 1977-1979
4 5 NAD history and grant application for Communication Skills Program 1977
4 6 NAD legislative committee correspondence 1983
4 7 NAD minutes and papers 1981-1988
4 8 NAD minutes and reports 1981-1983
4 9 NAD 1982 convention list of chairs 1982
4 10 NAD 1984 convention minutes and newsletters 1984
4 11 NAD 1984 convention minutes and newsletters 1984
5 1 NAD 1986 convention records 1986
5 2 NAD notes and correspondence 1981-1982
5 3 NAD policies 1978-1979
5 4 NAD position papers and minutes 1984-1986
5 5 NAD project description for Political Action Network 1981
5 6 NAD reports and planning guide 1981-1982
5 7 NAD speakers' bureau correspondence and lists Undated
5 8 WFD Commission on Pedagogy correspondence and reports 1981-1982
5 9 WFD papers and publications 1976-1983
5 10 WFD papers and publications 1983-1987
5 11 Yerker Andersson correspondence 1984-1986
6 1 Correspondence: A 1985-1988
6 2 Correspondence: B 1985-1988
6 3 Correspondence: C 1982-1989
6 4 Correspondence: D 1976-1989
6 5 Correspondence: D 1976-1989
6 6 Correspondence: E 1986
6 7 Correspondence: F 1981-1989
6 8 Correspondence: G 1985-1989
6 9 Correspondence: H 1985-1989
6 10 Correspondence: J 1981-1989
6 11 Correspondence: K 1982-1988
6 12 Correspondence: L 1980-1989
6 13 Correspondence: M 1986-1989
6 14 Correspondence: N 1986-1988
6 15 Correspondence: O 1981-1987
6 16 Correspondence: P 1981-1989
6 17 Correspondence: Q-R 1981-1989
7 1 Correspondence: S 1979-1988
7 2 Correspondence: T 1980-1987
7 3 Correspondence: U-V 1982-1989
7 4 Correspondence: W 1982-1988
7 5 Correspondence: X-Z 1987
7 6 Correspondence: foreign 1986-1989
7 7 Correspondence: interdepartmental 1987-1989
7 8 Alabama 1986-1987
7 9 Alaska 1979-1984
7 10 Argentina 1985
7 11 Arizona 1981-1984
7 12 Arkansas 1982
7 13 Bahamas 1984
7 14 Brazil 1988
7 15 California 1977-1986
8 1 Canada 1984-1988
8 2 Chile 1985-1989
8 3 Colorado 1986-1988
8 4 Connecticut 1987
8 5 Delaware 1982
8 6 District of Columbia 1981
8 7 England 1985-1987
8 8 Florida 1984-1989
8 9 Hawaii 1983
8 10 Idaho 1986
8 11 Illinois 1979-1988
8 12 Indiana 1982-1987
8 13 Iowa 1985
8 14 Kentucky 1981-1986
8 15 Louisiana 1982-1986
8 16 Maine 1982-1989
8 17 Maryland 1988-1989
8 18 Massachusetts 1978-1987
8 19 Michigan 1985
8 20 Minnesota 1987
8 21 Mississippi 1981-1988
8 22 Missouri 1986
8 23 Montana 1978-1987
9 1 Nebraska 1982-1988
9 2 New Hampshire 1990
9 3 New Jersey 1977-1984
9 4 New Mexico 1988
9 5 New York 1988
9 6 North Carolina 1984-1988
9 7 Ohio 1984
9 8 Oklahoma 1982-1987
9 9 Pennsylvania 1982-1987
9 10 Pennsylvania (closed file) 1977-1987
9 11 Rhode Island 1979-1984
9 12 South Carolina 1982-1986 1982-1986
9 13 Tennessee 1986
9 14 Texas 1988-1989
9 15 Utah 1984-1989
9 16 Virginia 1984-1988
9 17 Washington 1985-1986
9 18 West Virginia 1986-1987
9 19 Wisconsin 1987
9 20 Wyoming 1979-1989
10 1 AARP correspondence and reports 1978-1981
10 2 ADARA reports and correspondence 1977-1982
10 3 Aleander Graham Bell Association newsletters and correspondence 1979-1987
10 4 American Association of Higher Education conference program and memo 1979
10 5 American Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities correspondence and reports 1978-1981
10 6 CEASD correspondence and reports 1978-1985
10 7 Consortium of Universities articles of incorporation and bylaws 1967-1973
10 8 Correspondence and survey on CSUN 1977-1978
10 9 Correspondence with Canadian Hearing Society 1979
10 10 Council for Exceptional Children correspondence 1980
10 11 Council of Organizations Serving the Deaf forum reports 1971-1980
11 1 Council of Organizations Serving the Deaf reports and newsletters 1967-1976
11 2 Council on the Education of Deaf articles and correspondence 1976-1986
11 3 DCARA report and newsletters 1979-1980
11 4 Deafness Research and Training Center (NYU) reports 1980-1981
11 5 Deafpride, Inc., correspondence and bylaws 1979-1982
11 6 Disabled American Veterans symposium transcript 1983
11 7 Exceptional Parent magazine 1979
11 8 Food and Drug Administration publications and agenda 1979-1981
11 9 Handicapped Americans Reports newsletters 1980-1981
11 10 HEAR Foundation proposals and reports 1981-1985
11 11 Helen Keller Center correspondence 1982-1989
11 12 Helen Keller Center correspondence 1982-1989
12 1 International Association of the Parents of the Deaf correspondence 1982-1989
12 2 National Association of Hearing Impaired College Students correspondence 1983-1984
12 3 National Association of State Directors of Special Education correspondence and reports 1977-1980
12 4 National Captioning Institute correspondence and reports 1979-1984
12 5 National Council on Communicative Disorders correspondence 1979
12 6 National Crisis Center for the Deaf correspondence 1981
12 7 National Theatre of the Deaf correspondence and publications 1977-1985
12 8 Northern Essex Community College report 1979
12 9 Office of Handicapped Concerns correspondence 1978
12 10 Phi Alpha Pi constitution 1981
12 11 Planning and Human Systems Inc. reports and agendas 1978-1979
12 12 President's Committee on Employment handbooks and correspondence 1979-1986
12 13 Quota International correspondence 1978-1984
13 1 Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf correspondence and testimony 1978-1979
13 2 Rehabilitation Service Administration reports and correspondence 1979-1984
13 3 Royal National Institute for the Deaf correspondence 1980
13 4 Sertoma Club minutes and correspondence 1984-1986
13 5 DRCC memos and reports on orientation 1981-1982
13 6 DRCC minutes and reports 1985-1986
13 7 DRCC reports and correspondence 1979-1986
14 1 DRCC reports and correspondence 1979-1986
14 2 DRCC reports and correspondence on employment 1982-1984
14 3 DRCC reports and correspondence on interpreting 1981-1985
14 4 DRCC reports and correspondence on research 1984-1985
14 5 DRCC reports on communications 1980-1984
14 6 DRCC reports on deaf studies 1985
14 7 DRCC reports on deaf studies 1985
14 8 DRCC reports on physical barriers 1981-1983
15 1 Article and speech on George W. Veditz 1977
15 2 Article on Commission on the Education of the Deaf Undated
15 3 Articles and correspondence on the verbotonal method 1969-1978
15 4 Articles and papers on Civil Rights Commission 1977-1978
15 5 Articles and reports on interpreting 1977-1985
15 6 Articles from Deaf American 1977
15 7 Articles on cochlear implants 1984-1985
15 8 Articles on teletext captioning 1983
15 9 Correspondence and proposals for National Information Center on Deafness 1981-1987
15 10 Correspondence on deaf-blind 1981-1988
15 11 Newsletters and papers on cued speech 1978-1987
15 12 Notes and correspondence on advocacy 1979-1981
15 13 Papers and correspondence on captioned TV 1981-1983
16 1 Questionnaires for public forums 1983
16 2 Reports on deaf drivers 1980-1981
16 3 Reports on rubella 1980-1981
16 4 Speeches and articles on advocacy 1977-1986
16 5 Speeches and articles on advocacy 1977-1986
16 6 Speeches and notes on deaf youth 1978-1986
16 7 Speeches and notes on deaf youth 1978-1986
16 8 Speeches and papers 1980-1986
16 9 Speeches and papers 1980-1986
17 1 Articles and legal documents on Amy Rowley 1979-1982
17 2 Articles and legal documents on Amy Rowley 1979-1982
17 3 Articles and papers on conflict management Undated
17 4 Articles and reports on PL 94-142 1975-1986
17 5 Articles and reports on PL 94-142 1975-1986
17 6 Articles on education and PL 94-142 1986-1987
17 7 Articles on university status 1983-1987
17 8 Clippings and correspondence on PL 94-142 1985-1986
18 1 Documents on Sherry Grace (PL 94-142) 1980-1981
18 2 Fact sheets and articles on PL 94-142 1975-1980
18 3 Notes and articles on PL 94-142 1977-1984
18 4 Notes and drafts for position papers 1978-1980
18 5 Notes and drafts for position papers 1978-1980
18 6 Notes and reports on federal laws 1982-1983
18 7 Paper on total communication 1983
19 1 Reports and surveys on TDDs 1984-1985
19 2 Resources on parent training for due process under PL 94-142 1978-1980
19 3 Speeches and articles on PL 94-142 1980-1988
19 4 Speeches and papers on deafness for parents Undated
19 5 Text of federal legislation 1978-1985
19 6 Washington Metropolitan Deaf Alliance newsletter 1981
19 7 White House Conference on Handicapped Individuals papers and correspondence 1977
19 8 Articles and comments on Line 21 captioning 1981-1982
19 9 Articles and correspondence on Section 504 1977-1983
20 1 Documentation and correspondence on Rehabilitation Act of 1978 1978
20 2 Mental health correspondence and articles 1980-1983
20 3 Litigation on PL 94-142 and deaf education 1978-1982
20 4 Papers and summary of PL 95-602 1978-1979
20 5 Position statements on PL 94-142 1973-1980
20 6 Reports on Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compilation Board 1983-1984
20 7 Speeches and articles on deaf consumers 1963-1985
20 8 Speeches and articles on residential schools 1977-1986
20 9 Testimony and comments on interpreter bill 1978-1979
21 1 Testimony and comments on interpreter bill 1978-1979
21 2 US Congress correspondence and transcripts 1976-1984