Skip to content

Gallaudet University Archives Announces Major Acquisitions

May 23, 2012
By Kaitlin Luna
Arrow Buff


The Gallaudet University Library Deaf Collections and Archives (the Archives) recently announced the purchase of two historic and rare items of significance to the deaf community. The first is a book published in 1579 entitled, Theasurus artificosae memoria (A Glossary of Signs), and contains illustrations of a hand, or signed, alphabet. The second is a photo album from the 1850s containing 32 photographs of deaf people, including a photograph of Laurent Clerc, co-founder of the first permanent school for the deaf in the United States, the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Conn.

Established in 1864, Gallaudet University is the world’s only liberal arts university for deaf and hard of hearing students. The Gallaudet University Library Deaf Collections and Archives were established in 1967 and is responsible for preservation of the University’s institutional memory as well as the memory of the global deaf community.

Theasurus artificosae memoria (A Glossary of Signs) was written by Cosmos Rosselius, a Dominican friar in Italy. The book contains pictures of a hand demonstrating the signs for letters of the alphabet. Many of the 19 Latin letters show three different variations of the same letter. The illustrations do not include signs for the letters J, K, R, U ,W, Y and Z.

The second acquisition was acquired through an estate sale and is believed to have been owned by an alumnus of the American School for the Deaf. The individuals featured in the album most likely lived in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Laurent Clerc (1785-1869) is credited with introducing sign language to the American deaf community and co-founded the American School for the Deaf with Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, for which Gallaudet University is named. The Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center, which serves elementary and secondary programs for the deaf throughout the U.S., is also located on the Gallaudet University campus. Prior to this acquisition, Gallaudet University Archives had only one photograph of Clerc.

“The importance of preserving deaf history cannot be overemphasized,” said Gallaudet University President T. Alan Hurwitz. “These historical documents are a testament to the struggle and evolution of deaf education throughout modern human history. It’s a reminder of just how far we have come and that there are no limits to what deaf people can achieve.”

“These artifacts are vital pieces of deaf history,” said Ulf Hedberg, Director of the Gallaudet University Deaf Library Collections and Archives. “Through Theasurus artificosae memoria (A Glossary of Signs) and the photo album, we can better understand the daily lives of our deaf ancestors. We are thrilled to display these items to the Gallaudet community and the general public.”

Gallaudet University, federally chartered in 1864, is a bilingual, diverse, multicultural institution of higher education that ensures the intellectual and professional advancement of deaf and hard of hearing individuals through American Sign Language and English. Gallaudet maintains a proud tradition of research and scholarly activity and prepares its graduates for career opportunities in a highly competitive, technological, and rapidly changing world.

Contact: Kaitlin Luna, Coordinator of Media and Public Relations (202) 448-7106

23 May 2012
By Kaitlin Luna


Recent Posts

Roberto E. Wirth, E-’74 & H-’09, passed away on June 5 in Rome, Italy. Mr. Wirth was owner and managing director of the Hotel Hassler in Rome, one of the most prestigious family-owned hotels in the world, and owned several other hotels and resorts throughout Italy. He was a strong advocate for deaf people in...

Alumnus Timel Benton has signed a contract with the Bay Area Panthers of the Indoor Football League (IFL). Benton, who graduated last month, is the first Gallaudet Bison to sign a professional football contract since Tony Tatum signed on with the Utah Blaze in the now-disbanded Arena Football League (AFL) in May 2013. Benton was...

James Caverly, ’11, who plays Theo Dimas in Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building, will play Professor Harold Hill in the Olney Theatre Center’s summer production of Meredith Willson’s Tony-winning musical The Music Man, which opens tonight and runs through July 23. The show’s official opening is on Thursday, June 23. Sandra Mae Frank, ’13,...

About the Author

Kaitlin Luna

Recent Posts
Deaf hotelier Roberto Wirth passes away
Alumnus Timel Benton to play professional football
Alumni, faculty featured in The Music Man at Olney Theatre Center
Related Categories
Media Inquiries

For any other media inquiry, please contact:

No media contact found!

Stay up to date on all the Gallaudet happenings, both stories and initiatives we are doing with our Signing community!​

Admissions Requirements

Hearing Undergraduate