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Deaf Films   Tags: deaf, faq, research guide  

Last Updated: Sep 8, 2017 URL: http://libguides.gallaudet.edu/content.php?pid=120564 Print Guide RSS Updates

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Oldest Deaf Films

The earliest known film depicting a deaf person or sign language was made by the American Mutoscope and Biograph company in 1902 and entitled Deaf Mute Girl Reciting "Star Spangled Banner." The Library of Congress preserves a paper print copy (made in the days when only items on paper could be copyrighted). Unfortunately, this is not available in film or video. Also, unfortunately, the identity of the deaf girl has not been preserved. (Schuchman, John S. Hollywood Speaks: Deafness and the Film Entertainment Industry. Urbana, Ill: University of illinois Press, 1988, p.108.)

There was a report many years ago that the New York School for the Deaf had a film dating from 1900, but there is no confirmation and further information is lacking.

The oldest known, generally available film showing sign language is the 1910 film of Edward Miner Gallaudet describing, in sign language,  The Lorna Doone Country of Devonshire, England and produced by the National Association of the Deaf.

Edward Miner Gallaudet was hearing. The oldest known, generally available films featuring deaf people are nine films made in 1913, also by the National Association of the Deaf.

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