||In Our Own Hands
Essays in Deaf History, 1780–1970
Brian H. Greenwald and
“Greenwald and Murray’s book aims to connect the dots among significant themes in Deaf history. Readers are presented with new, fresh perspectives on how Deaf people during the 18th through 20th centuries used agency to engage in debates and activism about issues that impacted autonomy in their personal, educational, and social lives. A lesson we learn for the present and future is that preserving Deaf autonomy requires ongoing vigilance. I applaud the authors on this valuable contribution to Deaf history.”
—Glenn B. Anderson, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of Arkansas at Little Rock
“Greenwald and Murray have collected a trove of dazzling new work in Deaf Studies. With contributions from luminaries in the field, as well as bright new scholars, and essays that cast fresh light on enduring questions alongside others that blaze new trails, In Our Own Hands is a testament to the splendid vitality of the field.”
—Douglas C. Baynton, Professor of History and American Sign Language at the University of Iowa, Iowa City
“This exciting collection enlightens our understanding of Deaf people and the contexts in which they have framed their lives. Refreshingly diverse viewpoints, anchored in primary research by a new generation of scholars, examine the key role of self-empowerment in Deaf history and make essential reading.”
—John Vickrey Van Cleve, co-author, with Barry A. Crouch, of A Place of Their Own: Creating the Deaf Community in America, and Professor of History, Emeritus, at Gallaudet University
This collection of new research examines the development of deaf people’s autonomy and citizenship discourses as they sought access to full citizenship rights in local and national settings. Covering the period of 1780–1970, the essays in this collection explore deaf peoples’ claims to autonomy in their personal, religious, social, and organizational lives and make the case that deaf Americans sought to engage, claim, and protect deaf autonomy and citizenship in the face of rising nativism and eugenic currents of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.
These essays reveal how deaf people used their agency to engage in vigorous debates about issues that constantly tested the values of deaf people as Americans. The debates overlapped with social trends and spilled out into particular physical and social spaces such as clubs and churches, as well as within families. These previously unexplored areas in Deaf history intersect with important subthemes in American history, such as Southern history, religious history, and Western history.
The contributors demonstrate that as deaf people pushed for their rights as citizens, they met with resistance from hearing people, and the results of their efforts were decidedly mixed. These works reinforce the Deaf community’s longstanding desire to be part of the nation. In Our Own Hands contributes to an increased understanding of the struggle for citizenship and expands our current understanding of race, gender, religion, and other trends in Deaf history.
Brian H. Greenwald is a professor of history in the Department of History, Philosophy, Religion, and Sociology at Gallaudet University.
Joseph J. Murray is an associate professor in the Department of ASL and Deaf Studies at Gallaudet University.