Heritage

Minnesota's Deaf Heritage Collections

MNCDHH is proud to present a video collection of oral-visual history interviews conducted with deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing advocates in Minnesota.

In these interviews, you will see people talk about their life experiences, including where they went to school, what they did for work, and other funny and serious experiences that they have had as deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing people in Minnesota. You will also see them discuss the work that they have done to advocate for the community in Minnesota. Many of their advocacy stories are connected, so watch for those connections!

Be amazed by their inspiring stories, and don’t be surprised if they make you laugh or cry. Watch, enjoy, and learn!

Links to the video interviews
This video collection is made accessible through American Sign Language (ASL), open captions, voice-overs, and Microsoft Word transcripts of audio content with video descriptions included. The transcripts also include interview & translation notes (with additional information & corrections).

Legacy Video Interviews with 7 Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing Minnesotans (2010-2011)
Minnesota Deaf Heritage Video Interviews with 14 Deaf Minnesotans (1997)
“History Matters” Workshop Video Interviews with 3 Deaf Advocates with Minnesota Ties (2010)
Signs of Minnesota Video Interviews with 29 Deaf Minnesotans (2004)

Background on the Oral-Visual History Project
With the support of the Minnesota Historical Society, MNCDHH and Barb Sommer, a nationally recognized oral historian, collaborated on an Oral-Visual History Project to record, collect, and preserve the stories of deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing advocates in Minnesota.

The term “oral-visual” reflects the fact that the interviewees used a wide spectrum of communication modes, including visual and tactile sign languages. This video collection represents a valuable record of the deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing community’s diverse experiences and unique languages and cultures, and the significant contributions that the community has made to Minnesota’s history through vital activities such as advocacy.

All the oral-visual history interview materials were produced or remastered to comply with accepted oral history standards and Section 508 accessibility standards, and will be archived at the Minnesota Historical Society.

Acknowledgements and credits
Extra special thanks go to the interviewees who agreed to participate in this exciting project and share their stories of advocacy.

Special thanks also go to the organizations who produced and contributed valuable historical materials for this project, including the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Metro Division (DHHSD) of the Minnesota Department of Human Services, Digiterp Communications, the Minnesota Association of Deaf Citizens (MADC), the Minnesota Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (MRID), and the St. Paul Neighborhood Network.

The final videos were produced and remastered by ZenMation for the Commission of Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing Minnesotans.

This project was made possible by Legacy funding granted to MNCDHH from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund established through the vote of Minnesotans on November 4, 2008 and administered by the Minnesota Historical Society.

Historical photos & documents online in the “Minnesota Reflections” collection of the Minnesota Digital Library
MNCDHH is proud to present an important archive of historical photos and documents that are available online in the “Minnesota Reflections” collection of the Minnesota Digital Library.

The items in our online collection were donated by the deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing community. On behalf of the community, MNCDHH submitted 173 items to the Minnesota Digital Library, including:

30 from the Charles Thompson Memorial Hall (a deaf clubhouse in St. Paul that is also on the National Register of Historic Places)
24 from the Minnesota Association of Deaf Citizens
119 from the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf Alumni Association Museum

It was a lot of work to put this collection together, but we enjoyed traveling through history and learning about the vibrant lives and celebrated accomplishments of this strong community.

We invite you to take your own journey online through this amazing collection, which is free and available to everybody who is interested in learning about the history of deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing people in Minnesota.

How to view the Community Collection in “Minnesota Reflections.”
To see the whole collection and choose individual items to view:

Go to the web page for the Commission of Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing Minnesotans’s community collection.
Click on the Browse Commission of Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing Minnesotans button (near the top of the web page).
Change the “Display” button (near the top of the web page) from 50 to 200 items.
To search the items, use the search bar (near the top of the web page). Click on “Advanced Search” if you want to search in specific fields.
To see an individual item, click on the thumbnail or title to get the full image.
You can use the zoom bar above the image to zoom in or out of the image.
Below the image, you can read the full description of the item.
For documents, you can use the text tab above the image to read electronic text from that page. You can also click on “Text Search” to find words in the document. You can also click on “View Image & Text” to see the image and text side-by-side.

The Minnesota Digital Library has tip sheets to help you search the community collection and other historical items in the “Minnesota Reflections” collection:
Minnesota Reflections User Guides web page
Guide to Browsing & Searching
Guide to Viewing Objects
Guide to Using the Minnesota Newspapers Collection
Guide to Special Features

What’s in the Community Collection? Read the "Digital Delights" article
We found many fascinating stories as we journeyed through the collection, and we wanted to share them with you. Read our article and then click on the links to see the photos and documents which are part of those historical stories. Don’t stop there – explore the collection on your own, too!

The PDF version of the "Digital Delights" article is available on the Minnesota Digital Library website. MNCDHH provides a text version in MS Word of the same Digital Delights article.

Have questions or information to add? 
If you have questions about items in our collection, or if you have information to add to the item descriptions, please contact MNCDHH (see our contact information at the bottom of this web page).

Background on the “Minnesota Reflections” project
The “Minnesota Reflections” collection is a project of the Minnesota Digital Library. The collection currently has over 116,000 images, maps and documents from more than 133 of the state’s cultural heritage organizations. This site offers resources on Minnesota’s history and geography for researchers, educators, students, and the public.

Our collection in “Minnesota Reflections” consists of items contributed by deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing community members in order to preserve their unique heritage and make it available for sharing. The collection includes photos and other historical information contributed by the Charles Thompson Memorial Hall, the Minnesota Association of Deaf Citizens, and the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf Alumni Association Museum.

Our collection was supported by a grant from the Minnesota Digital Library. Current funding for “Minnesota Reflections” comes from the Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund of the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment to the state’s constitution.

Acknowledgements and Credits
Special thanks go to:

Marian Rengel, Minnesota Digital Library Outreach Coordinator, for her steadfast support of this very special project. We couldn’t have completed it without her expert assistance!
The trustees of the Charles Thompson Memorial Hall, the board members of the Minnesota Association of Deaf Citizens, and the keepers of the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf Alumni Association Museum for their generous donations of these valuable historical items.
Doug Bahl and Cynthia Weitzel for selecting the items to be included in our collection and bringing them to be scanned at the University of Minnesota.
Doug Bahl for providing the historical details for the item descriptions, and Teika Pakalns for writing and compiling the metadata that was submitted to the Minnesota Digital Library.