Guide to Deaf Biographies


This database is not current.  It was last updated in April, 2007, and there is no plan to update it again.  More recent biographical information is available through public search engines.

This guide is based on the work of three former Gallaudet University librarians and Washington Research Library Consortium (WRLC) staff.  Many years before the Internet existed Carolyn Jones created a deaf biographical database.  The database made it possible for researchers to find information that was otherwise buried in books and periodicals.  In the 1990s Thomas R. Harrington created a master index of multi-subject deaf biographies and merged it with Miss Jones’ information.  Through the 1990s and until 2007, he expanded and updated it as new works were published or discovered.   Jane Rutherford coded the information, and WRLC staff provided assistance and the use of the WRLC server.


This work includes primarily deaf and notable hard-of-hearing people, but a few hearing people who have been important to or influential on the deaf are included also. Unless specifically identified otherwise, a subject may be assumed to be deaf.

This work is not comprehensive. Additional deaf persons, and additional information about persons represented here, can be found in some other sources, including the Index to Deaf Periodicals database and in the Deaf Biographical Files in the Gallaudet University Archives. Some deaf individuals are also represented by single-subject biographical books in the Deaf Collection; consult the Library Catalog for these.

The abbreviation “fl.”, used for many dates, indicates “flourished”, and is used when a subject’s birth and death years are both unknown, but a definite year somewhere during the person’s life can be established. When no year is known with any confidence, a century is used instead.

Source titles are abbreviated. Refer to the Sources list for complete citations and locations in the Gallaudet University Library. Where no reference is given, the subject information came from a minor, non-reference type source (e.g., a brief mention in a magazine article or an on-line news service).

How to get copies

Gallaudet University Library does not sell or otherwise provide copies of articles or books directly to individuals.  To obtain copies, contact your local library. If your library does not have an item, it can obtain a copy for you through interlibrary loan. Your library will not necessarily get it from Gallaudet University; it will usually request an item from the nearest other library that owns it.  There may or may not be a charge for Interlibrary Loan, depending on the policies of your library and of the lending library. Your librarian will advise you of any charges or restrictions.