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Deaf Culture Research Guide   Tags: deaf, research guide  

This guide offers some resources and suggestions for researching deaf culture.
Last Updated: Sep 18, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Books are good places to get in-depth information and the historical background of an issue. Books are not good places to find recent information. Hint: Don't forget to check the bibliography (list of resources) at the end of most books to find other suggestions of where to find information!

You can find books about various aspects of deaf culture in the WRLC Catalog by using the following keywords in a Keyword (AND, OR, NOT) search:

  • clubs AND deaf
  • culture AND deaf
  • deafness AND "social aspects"
  • "social environment" AND deaf
  • "social psychology" AND deaf
  • "united states" AND deaf AND history

Remember that in a keyword search, phrases must be in quote marks, and keyword concepts must be joined with the word AND.


Periodicals (magazines and journals) are good places to find recent information on a topic. There are periodicals in almost all subject areas, and the information contained will vary from one periodical to another. Be aware of the fact that many periodicals and newsletters (such as Gallaudet today and Silent news), that contain articles about deaf culture, are not covered by any index. Please ask a librarian for assistance. You can access some periodical articles using online databases. The Library subscribes to a number of databases, some of which include deaf-related publications. You can view a list here, though most are accessible only to Gallaudet students, faculty, and staff. 

Online databases

To begin with, try the following keyword searches:

  • deaf culture
  • deafness culture

The Index to deaf periodicals, a Gallaudet Library-created online database, can lead you to some articles about deaf culture in several popular deaf periodicals. Alternatively, you may wish to search for well-known figures in deaf culture; a good place to start is our Guide to deaf biographies (we also offer a comprehensive guide on using this database). Use the Browse...Subject heading:

  • culture-deaf

Also browse the rest of the listings for other deaf culture-related entries, especially under the term deaf.



Videos are also available for checkout by Gallaudet students, staff, and faculty, or for visitors for onsite viewing. Viewing equipment is also available. You can search for DVDs and videotapes in the  WRLC Catalog with a Keyword (AND, OR, NOT) search:

  • culture AND deaf AND videorecording
  • folklore AND deaf AND videorecording
  • "american sign language" AND videorecording
  • "sign language" AND videorecording

This videotape is a particularly good introduction to Deaf culture:

American culture: the deaf perspective. San Francisco Public Library, with the assistance of Deaf People, Inc., 1981. [Signed, with voice-over.]

  • This is a set of three tapes which discuss the different aspects of Deaf culture.

Deaf Subject Files

Vertical files include materials such as newspaper clippings, brochures, maps, poetry, and other non-book printed materials. To find information about Deaf culture, look in the Deaf Subject File on the Lower Level, next to the Archives. These files are kept locked. To have them unlocked, ask someone in the Archives to help you. Use the following headings:

  • Clubs-Deaf
  • Deaf culture, American
  • History-Deaf
  • Sign language
  • Social psychology
  • Wit and humor--Deaf

* * * * * * * * * *

Prepared by Tom Harrington
Reference and Instruction Librarian
June 1998
Revised October 2001
Revised and updated by James McCarthy
Instruction & Reference Librarian
July 2012

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