Explore the growing digital archive of deaf history in Australia.

For Researchers

Researching Deaf History in Australia? This page has lists of books and articles on Deaf History, as well as archives around Australia, and lots of tips and advice. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you would like to make a suggestion, know of a recent publication or website that we can add to this list, or find a broken link.

Click “Resources” for advice, “References” for books and articles, “Archives” to find out where deaf-related archival material is to be found, and “Websites” for links to other Deaf History websites in Australia and overseas.  

References

Archives

Websites

Resources

Books

Blackmore, H. (Ed.). (1996). The house on the hill: The first hundred years of the School for Deaf Children in Western Australia 1896-1996. Perth: The WA School for Deaf Children Inc.

Bontempo, K, & Hodgetts, J. (2002). History of the WA Deaf Society 1921-2001. Leederville, WA: The Western Australian Deaf Society Inc.

Borrow, T. (1946). The Hallett family. Adelaide: Pioneers’ Association of South Australia

Branson, J. & Miller, D. (1995). The story of Betty Steel, Deaf convict and pioneer. Petersham: Deafness Resources Australia, Ltd.

Burchett, J. H. Utmost for the Highest: The Story of the Victorian School for Deaf Children. Melbourne: Hall’s Book Store Pty Ltd, 1964.

Carty, B. (2018). Managing their own affairs: The Australian Deaf community in the 1920s and 1930s. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.

Crickmore, B. L. (1990). Education of the deaf and hearing impaired: A brief history. Mayfield: Education Management Systems Pty Ltd.

Colefax, N., with Lawrence, A. E. (1999). Signs of change: My autobiography and the history of Australian Theatre of the Deaf 1973-1983. Parramatta, NSW: Deafness Resources Australia Ltd.

Doran, E. (1998). Hand in hand with time and change: The life of Ella Doran and her work with the Deaf in Australia. Woden, ACT: Molonglo Press.

Duerdoth, P. (1992). More than a school: Glendonald School for Deaf Children 1951-1991. Burwood, Vic: Victoria College Press.

Fitzgerald, S. (Narr.) (1999). Open minds open hearts: Stories of the Australian Catholic Deaf community. Lidcombe, NSW: CCOD.

Flynn, J. W. (1984). No longer by gaslight: The first 100 years of the Adult Deaf Society of Victoria. Melbourne: Adult Deaf Society of Victoria.

Hope, P. (Ed.). (1968). The voyage of the Africaine: A collection of journals, letters and extracts from contemporary publications. South Yarra, Vic: Heinemann Education Australia Pty Ltd.

Johnston, B. (2000). Memories of St Gabriel’s: A history of St Gabriel’s Deaf School, Castle Hill, NSW. NSW Government Printing Service.

Johnston, T. & Schembri, A. (2007). Australian Sign Language: An introduction to sign language linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Malone, N. L. (2019). A constant struggle: a history of deaf education in New South Wales since World War II. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.

O’Reilly, C. (2007). Deaf Australian story. Self-published by author. 

O’Reilly, C. (2013). Deaf Australian story Part II. Bilby Publishing.

Ozolins, U. & M. Bridge. (1999). Sign language interpreting in Australia. Melbourne, Vic: Language Australia, the National Language and Literacy Institute of Australia.  

Smith, E. J. (1991). Time is the builder: A history of the Royal Tasmanian Society for the Blind and Deaf 1887 to 1987. Hobart: The Society.  

Smith, G. M. (2022). WA Deaf: Challenges and Changes 2001 – 2021. Wembley, WA: Access Plus WA Deaf. Available at: https://catalogue.nla.gov.au/catalog/8806349      

WA Foundation for Deaf Children. (2022). The House on the Hill, Vol.2: Changes in Deaf Education in Western Australia During the Last 25 Years 1996-2021. Perth: WA Foundation for Deaf Children.

Wallis, B. T. (2016). The silent book: A Deaf family and the disappearing Australian-Irish Sign Language. Melbourne, Vic: Author.

Wilson, S. (2003). The history of the Queensland Deaf Society: From mission to profession 1903- 2003. Brisbane: The Queensland Deaf Society.

Articles and Chapters

Anderson, M. & Carty, B. (2014). The Cosmopolitan Correspondence Club. In K. Snoddon, Ed., Telling deaf lives: Agents of change (pp. 148-162). Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.

Branson: J. & Miller, D. (1996). Frederick John Rose: An Australian pioneer. In R. Fischer & T. Vollhaber (Eds.), Collage: Works on international Deaf history (pp. 69-82). Hamburg: Signum.

Carty, B. (2000). John Carmichael: Australian Deaf pioneer. Deaf History Journal, 3 (3), 24-36.

Carty, B. (2016). The “breakaways”: Deaf citizens’ groups in Australia in the 1920s and 1930s. In B. H. Greenwald & J. J. Murray (Eds.), In our own hands: Essays in deaf history 1780-1970 (pp. 211-238). Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.

Carty, B. & Thornton, D. (2011). Deaf people in colonial Australia. In T. Hedberg, Ed., No history, no future: Proceedings of the 7th DHI International Conference, Stockholm 2009 (pp.148-155). Solna: Dixa.

Cooper, P. F. (2014). Thomas Pattison (1805-1899) Coach Painter and Founder of the Deaf and Dumb Institute, Sydney. Philanthropy and Philanthropists in Australian Colonial History, August 27, 2014. Available at https://phinaucohi.wordpress.com/2014/08/27/thomas-pattison-1805-1899/

Cooper, P. F. (2014). Sherrington Alexander Gilder (1828 – 1902) and the commencement of the education of the deaf in NSW. Philanthropy and Philanthropists in Australian Colonial History, August 26, 2014. Available at https://phinaucohi.wordpress.com/2014/08/26/sherrington-alexander-gilder/

Cooper, P. F. (2014). George Augustus Frederick Lentz (1797-1883) Convict conman, Architect and  co-founder of the Institution for the Deaf and Dumb, Sydney. Philanthropy and Philanthropists in Australian Colonial History, August 26, 2014. Available at https://phinaucohi.wordpress.com/2014/08/26/george-augustus-frederick-lentz-1797-1883/

Cooper, P. F. (2014). Frederick Ropier Robinson (1815-1899) Ironmonger and for 38 years a member of Deaf and Dumb and Blind Institution and Ellis Frederick Leathwick Robinson (1839-1905) for 41 years Secretary of the Deaf and Dumb and Blind Institution. Philanthropy and Philanthropists in Australian Colonial History, August 27, 2014. Available at https://phinaucohi.wordpress.com/2014/08/27/frederick-ellis-robinson/

Cooper, P. F. (2014). Samuel Watson (1842-1911) Superintendent Deaf and Dumb and Blind Institution, Sydney. Philanthropy and Philanthropists in Australian Colonial History, August 26, 2014. Available at https://phinaucohi.wordpress.com/2014/08/26/samuel-watson-1842-1911/

Cooper, P. F. (2016). Charles Nightingale (1795-1860), Edward Ramsay (1818-1894), Arthur Balbirnie (1815-1891) and James Druce (1829-1891) Charity Collectors. Philanthropy and Philanthropists in Australian Colonial History, June 9, 2016.  Available at https://phinaucohi.wordpress.com/2015/07/12/charles-nightingale-1795-1860-edward-ramsay-1818-1894-arthur-balbirnie-1815-1891-and-james-druce-1829-1891/

Cooper, P. F. (2018). Matrons of the NSW Deaf and Dumb and Blind Institution up to World War I Philanthropy and Philanthropists in Australian Colonial History, April 16, 2018. Available at  https://colonialgivers.com/2018/04/16/matrons-of-the-nsw-deaf-and-dumb-and-blind-institution-up-to-world-war-1

Power, D. (2013). Australian Aboriginal Deaf People and Aboriginal Sign Language. Sign Language Studies, 13(2), 264-277

Stone, C., & Woll, B. (2008). Dumb O Jemmy and others: Deaf people, interpreters and the London courts in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Sign Language Studies, 8 (3), 226-240.

Thornton, D., Macready, S., & Levitzke-Gray, P. (2014). Written into history: The lives of Australian Deaf leaders. In K. Snoddon, Ed., Telling deaf lives: Agents of change (pp. 93-101). Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.

Uniacke, M. & Carty, B. (2022). ‘A message to humanity on behalf of the adult deaf’: The protest writing of John Patrick Bourke. Australian Literary Studies, 37(1).

Theses

Adam, R. (2016). Unimodal bilingualism in the Deaf community: Language contact between two sign languages in Australia and the United Kingdom. Doctoral dissertation. University College London, UK.

Anderson, M. (2001). Daisy Muir: A remarkable influence in the Deaf community. Unpublished Master of Education Research Essay, La Trobe University, Melbourne.

Bremner, A. (1996). Deaf sports in Australia. Unpublished Masters thesis, La Trobe University, Melbourne.

Dillon, A. (2015). Negotiating two worlds through the media: Debates about deaf education and sign language from 1970 to 2000. Unpublished doctoral dissertation: University of South Australia, Adelaide.

Flynn, J. W. (1999). Some aspects of the development of post-school organisations of and for Deaf people in Australia. Unpublished MA thesis, La Trobe University, Melbourne.

Hoopmann, S. R. (2011). ‘We’re Deaf women! We’re sisters!’: Exploring the female Deaf voice through community and commensality. Unpublished Honours thesis, University of Adelaide.

Loades, R. (1989). The establishment and maintenance of the Deaf community in South Australia. Unpublished BA Hons thesis, Flinders University, Adelaide.

Smith, G. M. (2019). Sight and sound: The history of deaf education in Western Australia. Unpublished doctoral dissertation: Murdoch University, Perth.   

Booklets, Kits and Video Sets

Across the decades: Celebrating 50 years of education at St. Mary’s School for Children with Impaired Hearing. n.p.: Privately printed booklet, n.d.

A brief history of South Australian Schools for Deaf and Blind Children. Adelaide: Privately printed booklet, 1974.

Australian Sign Language Interpreters Association. (2024). ASLIA pioneer interpreters: A time of transition from 1970 – 1990. Privately printed booklet. 

Carty, B., Neale, J., & Power, D. (2005). Deaf Studies program, P-7. (Kit). Language Australia: Centre for Deafness and Communication Studies.

Clancy, M. (Ed.). (1988). Heritage in our hands: Stories of the Deaf community of N.S. W. Sydney: Adult Education Centre for Deaf and Hearing Impaired Persons Inc.

History of Catholic Deaf Education in Australia, 1875-1975. Privately printed booklet, 1975.

Hough, L. A., & Knust, B. (Eds.) (1993). A Story of the Queensland School for the Deaf. Brisbane: Privately printed booklet.

Walter, J. (1960). The history of New South Wales schools for Deaf children and blind children, 1860- 1960. Sydney: Privately printed booklet.

 
Here is a list of collections of materials related to deaf history around Australia.  
 
NATIONAL LIBRARIES AND ARCHIVES
 
The world’s largest collection of material related to Australia and its people – including deaf people (search their collections using ‘deaf’ or related search terms). The NLA also hosts ‘Trove‘ – a huge collection of digitised material from many Australian institutions and organisations. Trove includes a digital archive of Australian newspapers and gazettes – a valuable resource for researchers.
Includes film and video materials related to deaf people (search their collections using ‘deaf’ or related search terms) 
Includes a wide range of materials related to deaf people (search their collections using ‘deaf’ or related search terms) 
Includes film and video materials related to deaf people (search their collections using ‘deaf’ or related search terms). Historical film materials (including those held by deaf organisations and individuals) can be donated to the NFSA so that they become part of our national record. 
 
 
STATE LIBRARIES AND ARCHIVES
State Library of Victoria 
Victorian Deaf Society  
Accession No. YMS13362 
Includes photographs of buildings, individuals and group activities, correspondence, agendas, minutes, reports, daybooks, and published journals and newsletters. Also includes two illuminated addresses and an engraving plate. No one type of record covers the entire period. Later additions to the collection include materials relating to Gallaudet College and specifications for buildings of the Adult Deaf and Dumb Society of Victoria. Also plans for land development and subdivisions. Also Blackburn property plans including nursing home plans. 40 boxes. 
Click on ‘PDF Finding Aid’ for more detailed list of box contents. 
Flynn, John W.   
Accession No: YMS 13555 
Comprises material concerning deaf history and related issues from approximately 1850. It includes photocopies of earlier material. Also includes a copy of Flynn’s 1999 thesis ‘Some aspects of the development of post-school organisations of and for deaf people in Australia’. 30 boxes. 
Click on ‘PDF Finding Aid’ for full list of items. 
Papers, ca. 1880-1948. [manuscript]. 
Bourke, J. P. (John Peter), 1901-1970. 
Accession No: MS 12224 
Papers relating to the deaf and dumb, particularly the Adult Deaf and Dumb Society of Victoria and allegations by J. P. Bourke of maltreatment of the deaf by the Society’s management, comprising: correspondence and circulars; diary of chief events of the Adult Deaf and Dumb Society, 1929-1936; minute book of the Australian Association for the Advancement of the Deaf, Victorian Branch, 1932-1937; three volumes of State Parliamentary Debates, Session 1929, containing references to the Adult Deaf and Dumb Society; and miscellaneous related material. 
Accession No: MS 14554 
Small collection of papers and fragments of papers of the Adult Deaf and Dumb Mission of Victoria, including the Office bearers for 1899-1900 and a list of benefactors from 1879 to 1901. 
Papers, 1903-2005 [manuscript]. 
Gorman, Pierre 1924-2006 
Accession No. YMS13962 
Comprises personal papers such as correspondence between Pierre Gorman and his father during his time at Cambridge, and later correspondence with Alan Gregory. Also, family photographs including an album kept on the Western Front 1915-1919 probably by Brigadier Eugene Gorman. Also, extensive material on Gorman’s work with the deaf. 
Accession No.: MS Box 4787 
Comprises correspondence from Sister Madeleine to Marthe Gorman, 1950-1966, also various other writers to Marthe 1952-1957. Sister Madeleine was also writing to Eugene Gorman, 1955-1972, and Pierre Gorman, 1952-1977. There are letters from others to Pierre Gorman 1952-1976. Also included are letters and photographs relating to St. Mary’s School for the Deaf in Portsea 1950s-1970s, plus press cuttings 1950s and undated.  1 box
Victorian Collections (Museums Victoria) 
Expression Australia History – documents, magazines, and other material, some digitised. https://victoriancollections.net.au/(Type ‘Expression Australia’ into search box) 
 
 
John Pierce Centre Archive
This is an in-house collection of historical materials related to the Catholic Deaf community in Victoria. It includes photographs and documents, newsletters and organisational records. Most items are from the 1970s onwards, although it includes some older material. Contact the John Pierce Centre for information.
State Library of New South Wales 
Deaf Society of NSW Aggregated Collection of Records 
Collection 1:  
Contents 
Minute books, 1923-1975 
Various administrative books, 1920s-1975 
Scrapbooks and printed material, 1936-1977 
Photographs, 1913-1981 
Collection 2:  
Contents 
Records, minutes, pamphlets, correspondence, and press clippings of the Adult Deaf & Dumb Society of New South Wales. 8 boxes. 
Dorothy Shaw Papers, 1915-1990 
Contents 
Dorothy Shaw papers, 1915-1990, including correspondence, notes, photographs and printed material related mainly to the deaf in Australia. 6 boxes. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Deaf in NSW: A community history. http://deafinnsw.com/

SignDNA – Deaf National Archive of New Zealand: https://signdna.org/

Norwegian Museum of Deaf History: https://norsk-dovemuseum.no/en

Finnish Museum of the Deaf: http://www.kuurojenmuseo.fi/?lang=en

National Deaf Life Museum: https://gallaudet.edu/museum/

British Deaf History Society: https://www.bdhs.org.uk/ 

Deaf History Australia: https://deafhistoryaustralia.com/ 

Deaf History International: https://www.deafhistoryinternational.com/ 

Deaf Museums Project: https://www.deafmuseums.eu/index.php/en/ 

Rochester Institute of Technology – Deaf Studies, Culture and History Archives: https://www.rit.edu/archives/ritntid-deaf-studies-archive

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