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RNID Rare Printed Collection


Hearing loss, deafness and deaf people


Ca. 3000 books and pamphlets

Scope and content

This collection is devoted to hearing loss, deafness and people who are deaf or have hearing loss. It consists of books and pamphlets dealing with sign language, the education of deaf people, diseases of the ear, as well as historical and literary works that concern deafness and deaf people.

The bulk of the collection dates from the 19th and 20th centuries. 147 items were printed before 1801. Many are exceedingly rare.

Although the majority of the items are in English, the collection is international in scope, with French, German and Russian particularly well-represented.


When it was founded in 1911, the National Bureau for Promoting the General Welfare of the Deaf aimed to establish a library on deafness. In 1934 the then-called National Institute for the Deaf purchased premises on 105 Gower Street, from which they operated a dedicated lending library. When the RNID had outgrown these premises and moved to Old Street in the 1990s, the collection was deposited at the UCL Ear Institute Library. The archives and the rare printed material were transferred to UCL Special Collections in 2020. The RNID retains ownership of the collection.

References to finding aids and published descriptions

Articles about several items in the collection can be found on the UCL Ear Institute and Action on Hearing Loss Libraries blogThe blog is now closed, but the content remains available.


The majority of the collection is catalogued. To browse the records, conduct a search for ACTIONHC, without spaces, on Explore. To view the archival material, conduct a search for RNID on the UCL Archives catalogue.