Veditz’ 1933 article on NAD – Part 1

Portrait of George W. Veditz by Nancy Rourke

This is a treasure trove of important information examining the origin, scope, purpose, focus, evolution, resolution, dissolution of the National Association of the Deaf by George W. Veditz – two term president of the NAD, staunch supporter of Deaf rights via education and employment and American Sign Language and English.

George wrote this article in 1933 a few years before he died.  This is part 1 – bold emphasis added by me.  I’ll add Part 2 and 3 etc soon

In order to determine our future we must know our past and understand our present.

Thanks George for always lighting the way.  Im so pumped we are gonna be at your grave on August 12, 2012 to ring out the end of your 151st and hearld in you 152nd as well as the 100th birthday of your famous “Preservation of Sign Language” filmed presentation.

1880: The National Association of the Deaf Founded

The Genesis of the National Association
By George William Veditz

From: Deaf-Mutes Journal
Genesis of the National Assoication. Deaf Mutes Journal 1933, 62 (22) June 1.
[This paper was prepared by Mr. George W. Veditz, of Colorado Springs, for the N. A. D. Convention in New York, which has been postponed to the summer of 1934, is now printed as preferable to holding it for over a year).

Notwithstanding the title it is my object in this paper not merely to attempt an insight into certain early phases in the struggles of the American deaf to become nationally organized, but to fix the honor and credit of taking the first measures that led to the founding of our National Association, and at the same time by visualizing the American deaf as a whole, as they were sixty years ago, to acquire a better understanding of what we are today and of the real problems that face us and that intimately affect our intellectual and material well-being.

Though there is another organization, the National Fraternal Society of the Deaf it differs decidedly from the National Association. The former is in effect a mutual life and benefit assurance association, levying monthly dues varying with the individual and that constitute, as if were, a savings fund to cover life insurance and sick and accident benefits. The several Divisions meet monthly for business and as often for social purposes. These divisions are local in their composition and have local annual elections of officers, and once after a four-year interval there is a national convention with one official delegate from each Division who has expenses paid, and a varying number of visitors and spectators whose main object is to join in the good time arranged for the delegates. It is more or less concerned with the individual, each member bound by the tie of his pecuniary investment, and, in normal time, failure to pay dues within a specified time means lapsing and a severance of active, full-powered connection with the organization. It does not concern itself directly with matters outside insurance—with educational conditions and methods, with industrial problems or with influences inimical to the welfare and independence of the class nor with discrimination of one kind or another. These last are altogether beyond the pale and limits prescribed by its constitution. Many of us are members.

The one and only organization that we have that can actively concern itself with all these matters last specified is the National Association of the American deaf.

There are only meager records of the circumstances and movements that led to the founding of our National Association. Aside from the rudimentary stage of our educational system and the small number of well-educated deaf, the main obstacle during pre-Civil War times in the path of such a national organization was the lack of a newspaper that, reaching all the larger cities, could place the subject before the deaf and their leaders and keep them in touch with one another. Moreover, those early years were seething times. The Hartford School antedated the Missouri Compromise by only three years. For forty years the country was passing through storm and stress to reach a decision whether it was to continue as a nation, whole and undivided, or to split. Though schools for the deaf followed Hartford in a reasonably quick order, there were only a dozen of such schools in existence in 1850, when the New England deaf first broached the subject of a national association, leading three years later to the founding of the New England Gallaudet Association.


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