Oregon School for the Deaf photographs, circa 1870-1989

Overview of the Collection

Oregon School for the Deaf
Oregon School for the Deaf photographs
circa 1870-1989 (inclusive)
0.33 cubic feet, (1 slim document box, 2 folders in shared oversize flat box)
Collection Number
Org. Lot 618
Collection consists of photographs from the Oregon School for the Deaf, a boarding school for deaf children founded in 1870. The photographs date from 1870-1989. They depict the physical space, people, and activities of the school.
Oregon Historical Society Research Library
1200 SW Park Avenue
Portland, OR
Telephone: 503-306-5240
Fax: 503-219-2040
Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.


Historical NoteReturn to Top

The Oregon School for the Deaf (OSD) is a state-funded boarding school in Oregon specializing in the education of deaf and hard of hearing children and young adults ages 5-21. William S. Smith, a deaf teacher, founded OSD in Salem, Oregon, in 1870. The school's original name was the Oregon Institute for the Deaf and Dumb, which was changed to the Oregon School for Deaf-Mutes in 1880. It was the first school for deaf children in Oregon, and also educated children from Washington until that state's school for the deaf opened in 1886. OSD operated in rented buildings until 1879, when it acquired its first property on the corner of Church and Mission streets. It moved to a more permanent location on Turner Road in 1895. The school moved to its current location on Locust Street in 1910. In 1913, the name was again changed, to the Oregon State School for the Deaf, and finally changed to its current name, Oregon School for the Deaf, in 1989. The terms "deaf and dumb" and "deaf-mute," used in the school's earlier names, are outdated and generally considered derogatory.

Historically, education at OSD included reading and writing in English, as well as speaking and lip reading for students who were able. Early vocational training included woodworking, leatherworking, farming, sewing, and cooking. Later vocational training included typing, nursing, and shoe repair. Until 1970, the students farmed part of the land, providing food to the school. Beginning in the early 1900s, students also began participating in extracurricular activities such as basketball, Boy Scouts, knitting, and other clubs. Currently, OSD has a bilingual educational model using both American Sign Language and written English to teach students from kindergarten through an Adult Transition Program.

The school is also home to the Oregon School for the Deaf Heritage Museum. Mark Hamstreet founded the museum and served as its first curator while he was still a student at the school. The museum includes displays of objects documenting the history of the school and also houses an archive of photographs, periodicals, and documents from the school.

Sources: Hearle, Linda. The 140th Anniversary of Oregon School for the Deaf. Printing and Binding Warehouse, 2010; "About OSD." Accessed July 20, 2022. https://www.oregon.gov/osd/about-us/Pages/default.aspx; National Association of the Deaf, Community and Culture Frequently Asked Questions, https://www.nad.org/resources/american-sign-language/community-and-culture-frequently-asked-questions/

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Collection consists of photographs related to the Oregon School for the Deaf in Salem, Oregon. The photographs date from about 1870 to 1989. Included in the collection are photographs showing the outside of the school buildings and campus grounds; the inside of classrooms, dorms, dining areas, and other spaces; the farmland which belonged to the school and was worked by students; and exhibits in the Oregon School for the Deaf Heritage Museum. Other images include sports team photographs, especially of boys and girls basketball teams from 1907 to 1947; students participating in activities such as club meetings, playing in the snow, going to dances, and swimming; school and class photos of students and staff; and students in their classes, including general education, printing, sewing, cooking, woodworking, and home economics. The collection also includes portraits of individuals who were important to the school, including Mark Hamstreet, William S. Smith, and Edward and Hilda Tillinghast, as well as a photographs of attendees at the first biennial meeting of the Oregon Association of the Deaf. Most of these photographs are copies from originals held by the Oregon School for the Deaf Heritage Museum. Many photographs are mounted on photo mats and almost all include explanatory notes provided by Mark Hamstreet, the first historian and curator of the Oregon School for the Deaf Heritage Museum.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Alternative Forms Available

Selected images from the Oregon School for the Deaf photographs are viewable online in OHS Digital Collections.

Preferred Citation

Oregon School for the Deaf photographs, Org. Lot 618, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.

Restrictions on Use

The Oregon Historical Society owns the materials in the Research Library and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. The Society does not necessarily hold copyright to all materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from copyright owners.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Acquisition Information

Gift of Mark Hamstreet, Oregon School for the Deaf Heritage Museum, May 1989 (Lib. Acc. 19341).

Processing Note

Collection was titled "Oregon School for the Deaf Museum collection" prior to July 2022.

Related Materials

Other materials at the Oregon Historical Society Research Library that are related to the Oregon School for the Deaf include: Oregon State School for the Deaf Biennial Reports (OR Co/D34.1) and the periodical Oregon Outlook (January 1929, Volume 37, No. 4-May 1997, Volume 105, No. 3), OR E/D34 .3Ou8.

Related Materials

Additional materials about the Oregon School for the Deaf are held by the Oregon School for the Deaf Heritage Museum in Salem, Oregon.

Separated Materials

Materials received with this collection were separated to Government Documents collections (OR E/D34); the Education collection (Mss 1504); and a vertical file, Schools -- History (Folder 2).

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Boarding schools--Photographs
  • Deaf children--Education
  • Deaf students--Photographs
  • School buildings--Photographs
  • Special education schools
  • Student activities--Photographs
  • Teachers of the deaf--Photographs

Corporate Names

  • Oregon School for the Deaf

Form or Genre Terms

  • photographs