Many deaf children went away to schools before they could read and write, so parents had to be creative to communicate with their sons and daughters. Drawings and images cut from magazines helped parents send their affection and pass along news of home. Students also used drawings and photos to share family life with school friends and school activities with family.

Jack Gannon's father (Floyd Gannon) come to the Missouri School for the Deaf (in Fulton) to bring his son (in military-like school uniform) home for a holiday. The photo was taken in Jefferson City by a street photographer/vendor.

This father has come to bring his son home for Christmas. For some deaf children at schools, holidays were a rare chance to see their families, who might live hundreds of miles away.

Gallaudet University Archives c. 1947-1949
Courtesy of Jack R. Gannon

Letter reads: "October 20, 1963 Dear Mike, Yes, you can go to Kellys house for Halloween. Be a good boy. (drawing of "mom's dress" blazer and skirt) Mom got a new blue dress and a little black hat. (with drawing of "mom's hat"). (Drawing of two people on boat arrow pointing at "Dad" and arrow pointing at "Ricky" going fishing on boat - one fishing line with writing "no fish" and another fishing line showing a cut-out image of fish with arrow pointing stating " Dad's fish looked like this." "Dad and Ricky went fishing. They caught only one fish."

Courtesy of Michael J. Olson - letter c. 1963

Italo Russo's letter home from CLARKE School for the Deaf. Photographed by Mike Olson. Letter reads: "Wednesday. Dear mother and father, The sun shines. We at some candy. I have some paper. We saw a car. I am well. I love you. Italo Russo." With someone documenting the letter as "First letter (1924)"

CLARKE School for the Deaf/Center for Oral Education - letter c. 1924

Pictures and Drawings helped students understand notes from home and feel a part of family events. At most schools, children were assigned a regular time during class every week to write a letter home.