Monday Milestones: Marriages of the Deaf in America Released Live to

Another community keyed project has gone live at!


In 1887, Alexander Graham Bell founded the Volta Bureau to serve as a “center of information for deaf and hard of hearing person.”  Between 1888 and 1895, a research project was undertaken by Dr. Edward Allen Fay to learn more about marriages of the deaf in America.  As part of this research a four page questionnaire was created with questions for deaf and deaf/hearing couples.  (For more information about this collection please visit our database description.)


Now, 105 years later, and thanks to the Ancestry World Archives Project community, these questionnaires have been indexed and placed online at  Like all projects keyed through this community, the indexes are available for free to everyone.  The images are available to active keyers and anyone with an Ancestry U.S. or World Deluxe subscription.


This database (which can be searched here) contains the names of over 5,200 couples.  While only the names of the couple were indexed, these amazing records can (and often do) contain information about parents, siblings and children.  So, you will want to go through all four pages of each record.  The first page generally contains marriage information about the couple.  Detail about the husband’s and wife’s families follows on the subsequent pages, possibly including parents’ names, siblings names and birth dates, and a list of any other deaf relatives.


You might also want to try searching this database by last name only and see what comes up.  Even if your ancestor wasn’t deaf, you might find them listed on the form for a sibling or child.


Also remember that the dates in the database title represent when the survey was conducted.  Many of the couples were actually married in the early and mid-1800s.  For example, I looked at one today where the couple (who happened to be cousins) were both born in 1811 and married in 1835.  The form for the husband lists parents and seven siblings and their marital status.  It also lists that the couple had seven children.  What a goldmine of information!


Many thanks to those of you who helped key these valuable records!

Until next time – Happy Keying!

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Reader Comments

I was one that worked extensively on this project. It was facinating. I had no personal interest in being involved, but enjoyed participating in such an interesting project.

I, also, worked on this project. It was very interesting to learn how many people had loss their hearing due to disease. I have one distant aunt that was deaf and mute, never married, and lived her life among her married siblings. She was born in 1845 and died in 1887. The only thing I don’t know is if she was born this way or was it due to disease. She was already deaf in 1850 at the age of 5.