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John Panara collection on Robert and Shirley Panara

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: RITDSA-0166

Scope and Contents

The John Panara collection on Robert Panara includes photographs, correspondence and local news articles collected by the Panara family and used in an exhibit on Robert Panara from 2014 after he had passed away. Other materials include sketches of Robert Panara done by Chuck Baird and one of Panara’s students; framed local newspaper articles between 1953 and 1988, highlighting the Rochester Recreation Club for the Deaf, and the Deaf Poet’s Society, as well as a framed newspaper clipping about NTID’s potential effect on Gallaudet College. Other newspaper articles include interviews with Shirley Panara. Also included are correspondence between Robert Panara to Dr. William Castle, regarding the dedication of the Robert F. Panara Theatre; correspondence to Dr. Robert Frisina, as well as Richard Eisenhart. Photographs feature Robert Panara, Chuck Baird, Dr. Alert Simone, Alan Hurwitz, and an autographed portrait from deaf friend and dancer, Frances Woods, and her partner Billy Bray.


  • Creation: 1943-1991


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers.

Biographical Information for John Panara

John Panara is the hearing son of deaf parents, Shirley and Robert Panara. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from the State University of New York, College at Brockport. John Panara is currently an assistant professor at NTID, teaching writing to deaf and hard-of-hearing students. He has also been the recipient of the NTID Student Congress “Outstanding Staff” award, as well as the NTID Student Congress “Staff Humanitarian Award” twice over.

Biographical Information for Robert Panara

The first Deaf faculty member at NTID, and a key figure in its history, Robert Panara was hired in 1967 to assist in establishing NTID on RIT's campus. He was instrumental in planning NTID's curriculum and preparing RIT's staff with ASL classes. He taught English at NTID and founded the Drama Club in 1970, which has grown into a full performing arts program with numerous productions yearly in the theater at NTID named in his honor. It was at the celebration of NTID's 20th anniversary in 1988 that the Robert F. Panara Theatre was dedicated. Panara is recognized as one of the founders of the National Theatre of the Deaf. He was the only deaf member of the National Advisory Board, and the first NTID faculty member. He was also awarded the RIT Founders Award for his lifetime of achievement and devoted service to RIT. Panara retired from NTID in 1987.

Robert Panara died in 2014 at the age of 94.


7 Box(es) (5 document boxes 1 oversize box, 25" x 19" 1 lid box)




The John Panara collection on Robert and Shirley Panara includes photographs, correspondence and local news articles collected by the Panara family and used in an NTID exhibit on Robert Panara from 2014.


The collection is arranged by material type.

Physical Location

C.S. North, Shelf 208-209

Other Finding Aids

In addition to this finding aid, an inventory is available below. For more information, please contact the RIT Archive Collections.

John Panara collection on Robert and Shirley Panara

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was donated to RIT Archive Collections by John Panara in January 2017.

Accession number(s): 2016:063

Related Materials

RITDSA.0029: Robert Panara collection of Patrick Graybill

RITDSA.0030: Robert Panara deaf poster collection

RITDSA.0031: Robert Panara deaf video collection

RITDSA.0032: Robert Panara literature collection

RITDSA.0054: Harry Lang collection on Robert Panara

RITDSA.0120: Harry Lang collection on Robert Panara books by Shakespeare

RITDSA.014: Stan Zack photograph of Robert Panara and other performers

RITDSA.0170: Robert Panara Commemorative Stamp collection

Processing Information

Finding aid created by Claire Popoli in February 2017.

John Panara collection on Robert and Shirley Panara
RIT/NTID Deaf Studies Archive
Claire Popoli
15 February 2017
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the RIT Archives Repository

Rochester NY 14623 USA