UCL Library Services


Historical & Archival Collections at UCL Ear Institute & Action on Hearing Loss Libraries

Historical materials

Both the UCL Ear Institute and Action on Hearing Loss Libraries have significant historical collections in their respective subject areas.

The UCL Ear Institute Library historical collection contains around 500 volumes dating back to the middle of the seventeeth century. The bulk of the collection was published between 1870 and 1940, as the study of otology, rhinology, and later laryngology developed. It includes extensive holdings of works by key figures in the history of otorhinolaryngology in the UK and internationally such as Sir Morrell MacKenzie, Adam Politzer and Joseph Toynbee. The collection also includes a significant number of portrait photographs of key figures in the development of otorhinolaryngologic medicine from the end of the nineteenth century and the middle of the twentieth century.

The Action on Hearing Loss Library historical collection contains around 1,000 volumes, with the earliest again dating back to the seventeenth century and the majority published between 1850 and 1920. The collection is based upon the private library of Selwyn Oxley, an English mission worker with the deaf in the 1920s and 1930s, and is therefore focused on the social and educational impact of deafness and hearing loss. Examples of authors represented in the collection include John Bulwer, Alexander Melville Bell and Thomas Arnold, a proponent of oral teaching for deaf children in the nineteenth century. The collection also includes a large selection of proceedings of conferences on deaf education from the 1850s onward.

Together the collections chart the development of both the medical and social responses to hearing loss and ear, nose and throat diseases. The collections are shelved at the Libraries and are available for viewing on request. It is advised that you contact the library in advance if you wish to consult the historical collections. A catalogue of the UCL Ear Institute Library historical collection is available, a catalogue for the RNID Library historical collection will be available shortly.

Archives of deaf organisations

The Action on Hearing Loss Library Institutional Collection consists mostly of annual reports from UK deaf schools and organisations, with a small number of additional materials. There are also a limited number of materials from international deaf organisations in the collection.

Typical examples of resources in the collection are:

  • Complete Action on Hearing Loss annual reports and other archival materials from the organisation.
  • Annual Reports of the Church of England Central Advisory Council for the Spiritual Care of the Deaf and Dumb from 1928-1960.
  • Annual Reports from the Mary Hare Grammar School for the Deaf from 1948-1982, and copies of the school magazine 'The Bluebird' from 1948-1987.

A list of the schools and organisations represented in the collection is available. Please contact us for more details of the materials that we hold for each school or organisation.

We would encourage anybody with, or knowing of the existence of, any archival materials relating to deaf schools and organisations to contact the Action on Hearing Loss Library, so we can add the details to our records.

Magazines and Newsletters

The Action on Hearing Loss Library has an extensive collection of magazines from deaf organisations in the UK and throughout Europe. The collection includes magazines from

  • Australia - Better Hearing
  • Finland - Kuurojen Lehti
  • France - Résonnances
  • Germany - Das Zeichen
  • Italy - Effeta, L'Educazione Dei Sordi, Noi Nel Mondo
  • Netherlands - Logopedie en Foniatrie
  • Norway - Din Hørsel, Døves Tidsskrift
  • Russia - BEC
  • Spain - Fiapas
  • Sweden - Døvas Kyrkoblad
  • Switzerland - Dezibel, La Diligence

The Action on Hearing Loss Library is keen to exchange copies of the Action on Hearing Loss magazine for copies of equivalent magazines from other organisations concerned with deafness and hearing loss from around the world. Please contact us for more details.

The collection also includes a number of newsletters published by deaf groups, ranging from the relatively long-lived Buckinghamshire Deaf News from the 1970s and 1980s, to the unfortunately short-lived Newsletter of the British Deaf Ski Club in the 1980s. The Action on Hearing Loss  Library still receives a number of current newsletters, for example from Music and the Deaf or the British Society for Mental Health and Deafness. If you produce a newsletter on deaf issues and would like to have a copy available at the Action on Hearing Loss Library, please contact us.