ABC Portraits Book


ABC Portraits of Deaf Ancestors
written by Karen Christie with art by Nancy Rourke

An amazingly well-researched, written, and illustrated book that every Deaf child and their families, schools, and libraries should have. Don’t miss the opportunity to learn about a Black DeafBlind lawyer, a Deaf woman pilot, a Native American Deaf woodcarver, a Deaf woman journalist/poet who wrote under a male pen name and many more.

Order while supplies last:

Deaf youth, community members, teachers, and librarians desiring more info on each of the people presented in the book are welcome to download this pdf for additional resources.

pdf more bio info ABC Portraits of Deaf Ancestors-1

Coloring pages of selected portraits:  Click to access 2_abcportraitscoloringbook.pdf

Karen Christie and Nancy Rourke’s presentation for NAD National Deaf Education Conference 2019

Great gratitude to all our kickstarter backers that made the publishing of this book possible.

“… deaf history is almost never taught to deaf children, for that would be a step toward legitimating a cultural model of the deaf way of being; deaf adults learn their cultural history today with surprise and delight.”  ~ Mask of Benevolence by Harlan Lane, p. 27

Reviews of the book:
Ikouii review

Woolgather review

Amercian Society for Deaf Children Review

Press release:
Deaf Pilots, Baseball Players, Poets, Artists, and Lawyers: Portraits of Deaf Heroes and Heroines for Children and Everyone Else

Publishers have recently harnessed the power of beautifully illustrated children’s books highlighting the accomplishments of women, African Americans, and others underrepresented in our history books. To contribute to this popular genre, Surdists United, Inc., a non-profit arts organization, announces the publication of ABC Portraits of Deaf Ancestors.

Produced following a successful Kickstarter campaign, this book spotlights the lives and achievements of historical Deaf and DeafBlind people from a variety of cultures, ethnicities and backgrounds. Presented in short, simple language, the biographical entries contain archival information uncovered from a number of Deaf school archives and historical Deaf news publications. Each concise bio, which was researched and written by Karen Christie, is visually brought to life with painted portraits by internationally recognized Deaf artist Nancy Rourke. Rourke has pioneered a style of Deaf art coined Rourkeism which is characterized by the use of bold primary colors.

Deaf individuals featured include: Nellie Zabel, the first woman pilot from South Dakota, whose beloved airplane appears in her portrait; , Roger O’Kelly, an African American DeafBlind lawyer, who graduated from Yale University in 1912, is portrayed with his distinctive signature; Monroe Ingram, an African American baseball pitcher and educator, is shown wearing his team uniform; John Clarke’s portrait shows him in his Blackfeet headdress brushing off a small bear carving, one of his many notable artworks, and Laura Redden, a poet and journalist who interviewed President Lincoln and General Grant via pen and paper, appears as she did in her author photo. ABC Portraits of Deaf Ancestors was created for middle school students, their families as well as students of Deaf history and culture. The book’s Deaf writer, Karen Christie, states that these portraits result in compelling lessons about resilience that all readers can appreciate.

Surdists United is a nonprofit 501c3 entity and a collective movement of visual artists, filmmakers, poets, storytellers, writers, & performers committed to creating art about Deaf experiences and social justice through ARTivism. The organization actively trains art teachers across the country in how to teach about Deaf View/Image Art (De’VIA), provides workshops in schools, communities, and prisons, generates and promotes De’VIA exhibits, and engages in ARTivism to advance social justice.

For more information or to schedule a presentation and book signing: surdistunited(at)

To order the book go to:

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