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January 2017 Vol. 54 No. 5

Gallaudet University Press

The following review appeared in the January 2017 issue of CHOICE. The review is for your internal use only. Please review our Permission and Reprints Guidelines or email

Social & Behavioral Sciences
History, Geography & Area Studies - North America

2016-5244 CIP
In our own hands: essays in deaf history, 1780–1970, ed. by Brian H. Greenwald and Joseph J. Murray. Gallaudet, 2016. 270p index afp ISBN 9781563686603 pbk, $39.95; ISBN 9781563686610 ebook, contact publisher for price.

Editors Greenwald and Murray spotlight new work in deaf history, primarily covering US topics between 1780 and 1970, especially biographies and organizational stories. Several essays offer refreshing approaches to common subjects, challenging dominant representations of monolithic deaf cultural worlds. For example, Octavian Robinson’s study of anti-peddling campaigns reveals shifting motivations and community fissures as well as elites’ conservative social attitudes. Jannelle Legg’s essay on late-19th-century debates over St. Ann’s Church for the Deaf powerfully illustrates deaf people’s agency, new roles of space and place, complex coalitions, and overlooked acts of resistance. Other notable pieces, by Murray and Marion Andrea Schmidt, respectively, importantly reinterpret institutions typically valorized—such as Gallaudet College—and ostracized—such as the Clarke School for the Deaf. These and other contributions draw on wide-ranging primary materials, demonstrating the rich presence of deaf history beyond familiar archival locations and source formats. Deeper and consistent critiques of racism, classism, and heterosexism, among other historical forces, and of foundational concepts such as "hearing" could have benefited the overall work. Ultimately, this collection invites continued exploration of deaf cultural histories in and beyond North America.

--S. Burch, Middlebury College

Summing Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries.