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Alphabet, Manuel-Figure des Sourds-Muets de Naissance, An VIII (1799-1800)

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 17 March 2017

Alphabet 1A year or so ago we came across, in our French language collection, this extremely rare manual alphabet – Alphabet, Manuel-Figure des Sourds-Muets de Naissance.  It was printed in Paris, in an VIII, revolutionary year 8, which dates from the 23rd of September, 1799, to the 22nd of September, 1800.  That was the period when Bonaparte returned from Egypt and used his popularity to instigate the coup of  18 Brumaire, becoming ‘consul’ and virtual dictator.  It was possibly printed by the pupils (boys) of the Institution Nationale des Sourds-Muets à Paris, then under the principal, the Abbé Sicard.  Sicard had an extraordinary life, narrowly avoiding execution during the French Revolution in 1792, when he was arrested by the Revolutionary Commune for failing to take the oath of civil allegiance.  You can read about that in Harlan Lane’s book, When the Mind Hears (1984, see chapter 2 in particular), and in the more recent Abbé Sicard’s deaf education : empowering the mute, 1785-1820 (2015) by Emmet Kennedy.  The coup of 18 Fructidor sent Sicard into hiding, and he only emerged when Bonaparte came to power.  We have a copy of Sicard’s first book published in an VIII (year 8), Cours d’instruction d’un sourd-muet de naissance, pour servir a l’éducation des sourds-muets, but it appears that the sign alphabet that is supposed to be in it, is missing from the first edition we have.  Here it is from the back of the 1803 second edition.  Click for a larger size.Cours 1803

Was Alphabet, Manuel-Figure printed for the use of the pupils, or to sell in order to raise money?  Was it printed by the pupils, as an exercise, or a way of learning a trade?  I think we may well attribute Sicard as the man behind the publication, but perhaps it was just publicity material for the school with another teacher responsible.  It is beyond my expertise to say anything more about the Alphabet, so I present the printed pages.  It is not printed on every page, and I suspect it was printed on one sheet, then folded and cut, but if you have a more informed view about how it may have been laid out, please contribute below.

I think that this item is, as I said above, extremely rare, but it may well be unique.  The small plaque under each picture is probably aesthetic, but seems to me to make the pictures seem more ‘monumental’ and, if I dare use the term, (it may be legitimate here!), ‘iconic.’  Now compare the hand shapes in the 1803 alphabet above, with those in our 1799 one below.  See the interesting differences.  Is one drawn by a ‘reader’ of the signs, and one by the ‘speaker’, or is one drawn by the artist from his (or her) own hand shapes?  Is the 1799 Cours d’instruction alphabet different?  If both were by Sicard, would they not be identical, or could that just be a matter of the artist executing the engravings?

It measures approximately 14cm by 23cm.  We are in the process of getting many of these books, previously on card index only, onto the UCL catalogue, to make them more ‘visible’ to researchers.

The pages between those below, are blank.

Alphabet 2 Alphabet 3 Alphabet 4 Alphabet 5

Cours d’instruction d’un sourd-muet de naissance, pour servir a l’éducation des sourds-muets – on Google Books, unfortunately lacks the sign alphabet at the back.

The Rev. John Kinghan of Belfast Deaf Institution and Mission

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 10 March 2017

Kinghan mission churchThe Rev. John KINGHAN,  (1823-1895) was Principal of the Belfast Institution for the Deaf and Dumb.  Born in Ballymacarn, son of William Kinghan, John was educated at Dr. Blain’s Academy in Arthur Street, Belfast (see Obituary for what follows).  He went on to Belfast College, which was Presbyterian, obtaining his licence in 1852.  As early as 1845 we are told that he was giving instruction to Deaf and Dumb pupils in the Institution in Lisburn Road.  He may have met Charles Rhind at that time as he was Principal there for a while.  This was, of course, the period of the great famine in Ireland.  In May 1853 Kinghan took over from Rhind’s successor and predecessor, the Rev. John Martin, who then emigrated to America, being unanimously chosen from a list of nine candidates.  He remained at the school for the rest of his life, though after two bouts of illness he had to withdraw from much of the management work at the school in 1879 and 1884. He does not appear to have done anything particularly extraordinary or remarkable.

No one familiar with this Institution can overlook the lengthened and valuable services of the Rev. John Kinghan.  This gentleman has for so many years been identified with its working that he has come to be regarded as the Society itself.  His devotion to the cause of the deaf and dumb and the blind is widely known, and he has the satisfaction of seeing now a marvellous development of a work in the Institution, of which he was the leading figure.  His efforts have been ably seconded by Mr. James Bryden, the Head Master, a zealous and accomplished teacher, and Mr. John Beattie, the first assistant who graduated in the concern and is acquainted with all the details. (from Quarterly Review of Deaf-Mute Education, 1891, quoting The Belfast News Letter, of 4th February, 1891).

On 17th of May 1857, Kinghan started a mission to the deaf, obtaining the use of a room in Sandy Row where he could hold services for the deaf of Belfast.  This later moved to the Great Victoria Street schoolhouse, and in 1878  a special building, “the Bethel,”was erected in Sandy Row.

Kinghan

Below is the back cover of the 1914 report, with a picture of the Jubilee Home for women which the mission ran.  I expect there is information on this in the British Deaf Times where the picture comes from.  I am not sure what year the home began or when it closed.  Do tell us if you know more about it in the comments field below.Jubilee Home deaf women

Obituary. British Deaf-Mute, 1895, 5, 25. (photo)

Quarterly Review of Deaf-Mute Education, 1891, 2, 262-69, 289-95.

Annual Reports 1909,1913, 1914, 1917, 1919, 1924, 1929, 1930, 1932, 1934, 1935, 1943, 1948

http://jordanstownschool.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/HisGov.pdf

His Family: 

http://www.thepeerage.com/p38223.htm#i382221

One of his female ancestors, Catherine Sheridan, had an argument with one of the last wolves in Donegal –  http://www.thesilverbowl.com/familytree/Dill_descendants.htm

His Church:

https://www.presbyterianireland.org/Mission/Mission-Projects/Kinghan-Church.aspx

“They become unconsciously genuine stupifying explainers” – French Oralist Jean-Jacques Valade-Gabel

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 3 March 2017

Valade-GabelJean-Jacques Valade-Gabel (1801-79) was a leading proponent of oral education for the deaf who was active in the middle of the nineteenth century.  I first came across him through the book of moral tales he wrote, translated into English by Charles Baker of the Yorkshire Institution.  I cannot give any details of his personal life, other than to say that his son Andre followed him into teaching the deaf.  He taught at the Paris Institution before moving to Bordeaux (American Annals of the Deaf, 1860).  Harlan Lane says that he was “fired from Bordeaux for mysterious reasons” (Lane, p.436, note 110).  What did he do that was so disgraceful?  It did not affect his later career it seems

Picture LessonsHe was, it seems, a disciple of Pestalozzi (who has been mentioned before on a post), taught in Paris from 1826 to 1838, was director of the National Institution at Bordeaux from 1838 till 1850, and later became Government inspector of the schools for the deaf in the 1860s, which must have put him in a powerful position to get his educational views instituted across France (The Association Review, 1902, p.274).  Our copy of Méthode à la portée des instituteurs primaires pour enseigner aux sourds-muets la langue française : sans l’intermédiare du langage des signes (1857) is signed by Valade-Gabel.  This was the book that set out his views in full, and in 1875 his method was officially recognised by the Ministry of the Interior (The Association Review, 1904, p.274).VG Deaf Boy

We have two copies of the translated Picture Lessons for Boys and Girls, one with the author’s introduction, where he indicates a disdain for signing.  It seems he gave emphasis to reading and writing.  He says,

The reproach addressed by Jacotot to those who too much distrust the penetration of children, falls directly on such teachers as are in the habit of constantly interposing signs between the deaf and dumb and written language.  They become unconsciously genuine stupifying explainers.  The more graceful and appropriate are the signs, so much more do they turn the pupils from the attention which must be given to writing, in order to obtain in it a sort of power interpretive of thought.  We know in a certain establishment a certain very distinguished master, who, nevertheless, has not succeeded in making a good scholar, for the sole reason that he does not know how properly to teach the deaf-mute to cope with the difficulties of reading. (p.vi)

In The Association Review, they say,

This untiring reformer introduced at the Bordeaux Institution the intuitive method in instruction in language in its written form. He attracted the attention of specialists to his method by annual courses and lectures from 1839 till 1850, and in 1857 published his famous work, “Method for the use of primary teachers for teaching the deaf the French language without the intermediary of the sign language.” This important work was favorably received by the leaders of the French education of the deaf; and in 1875 Valade-Gabel’s method was officially recognized by the Ministry of the Interior. This method which substituted the eye for the ear, employed writing, and abandoned signs as a means for learning language, was adopted either entirely or in conjunction with older methods by the majority of the French schools many years before the Milan Congress. (p.274)

They continue to explain something of his method (p.275): “Valade-Gabel’s method is based on two leading principles: the first, that language shall be taught without either methodical or natural gestures, and the second, that instead of begin- ning with words, developing and explaining them, each one by itself, the beginning should be made with sentences.”

VG Deaf and Dumb Man

Above are two pages from the Picture Lessons.  Note that this last picture below, shows a child – a ‘chatterer,’ – signing to his fellow.  “They are chatters when they make any unmeaning or unnecessary signs.” Chatterer

I think that the poet, Leon Valade, may have been his son, or a relative.  Please add a note in the comments if you can provide any additional information about Valade-Gabel.

Arnaud, Sabine, Fashioning a Role for Medicine: Alexandre-Louis-Paul Blanchet and the Care of the Deaf in Mid-nineteenth-century France.  Soc Hist Med (2015) 28 (2): 288-307

Fourth Report of the Institution for the Deaf at Venersborg, Sweden… The Association Review, 1902, Vol.4 p.272–8

Lane, Harlan, When the Mind Hears, a History of the Deaf.  

Picture Lessons for Boys and Girls [review] American Annals of the Deaf, 1860 Vol 12, p.191-2

Quartararo, Anne T.,  The Perils of Assimilation in Modern France: The Deaf Community, Social Status, and Educational Opportunity, 1815-1870.  Journal of Social History, Vol. 29, No. 1 (Autumn, 1995), pp. 5-23

Valade-Gabel, J-J., Picture Lessons for Boys and Girls, Translated and adapted by Charles Baker. 1860, London, Wertheim and Macintosh

Valade-Gabel, J-J,, The Institutions for the Deaf and Dumb in France

A picture of Valade-Gabel is on this interesting Danish website

Alfred Binet, French psychologist, versus Giulio Ferrerí, Italian oralist, 1910

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 24 February 2017

Giulio Ferreri (1860 or 1862-1942)* was an oralist teacher of the deaf who was Rector of the Royal National Institution, Milan, for many years.  He travelled fairly widely it seems, visiting America, where he studied the educational methods, writing a monograph in 1903 that was translated for the Volta Bureau in 1908 as The American Institutions for the Education of the Deaf.  According to the scribbled note in the front of that book, he met Selwyn Oxley on two occasions, in Milan in 1924**, and at the Teacher Conference in London in 1925.

Not long after the appearance of Ferreri’s American publication, the French psychologist Alfred Binet and his colleague Théodore Simon, who together created the first IQ test, wrote an article in l’Année psychologique reprinted and translated later in The American Annals of the Deaf, ‘An Investigation Concerning the Value of the Oral Method.’  They found that congenitally deaf people who were considered to be oral successes, were unable to communicate effectively orally

when one is a bit of a psychologist, one feels curious to know how an art so delicate as that of speech can be taught to unfortunate beings who are totally deaf.  Is it possible that speech, with its delicate shades of intonation which we acquire through the ear, can be learned by individuals who have never heard?  Is it possible?  Perhaps it will be thought that no one has the right to declare anything impossible; but this is one of those things which require a very strong proof to be accepted. (p.35)
[…]
we refrain from concluding that the oral method is a total failure. We do not like such positive assertions; the truth has more delicate shades of distinction. If the oral method really presented no sort of advantage whatever, it would not have held its ground in our schools for thirty years. But we believe that its practical value has been overestimated. It seems to us to be a sort of pedagogy de luxe, which produces moral effects rather than useful and tangible results. It does not enable deaf-mutes to get situations; it does not permit them to enter into relations with strangers; it does not allow them even a consecutive conversation with their relatives; and deaf-mutes who have not learned to speak earn their living just as easily as those who have acquired this semblance of speech. That is the observation which we made again and again, and with a persistency which seemed to us very eloquent. (p.44)

Ferreri was not impressed, responding with what Moores (1997) points out as a very personal attack:

Alfred Binet and his fellow helper, Dr. Simon, have made an investigation as to the value of the oral method, and have published a report of it in their well-known review, l’Année psychologique.  In the minds of the authors the results of their investigations must have appeared very important, but to educators of the deaf, as well as to every conscientious scientist, it is a very poor affair.  But in that case, it may be asked, is it worthwhile to take this study into serious consideration?  It is; because one must apply to the crime of Alfred Binet and Co. the theory of Licurgus, who taught that one should judge a misdeed not in itself but in its consequences. And. in view of the wide circulation and the merits of l’Année psychologique, the mistakes made by the Paris psychologists in judging of the oral method may be disastrous in their consequences upon the opinions of learned men. (p.46)
[…]
In regard to the capacity of criticism, which Mr. Binet denies to the educators of the deaf, we can only reply: Inform yourself of what has been written and discussed concerning the methods of teaching and the means of their application during the past thirty years, and you will make a discovery, viz., that the teachers of the deaf understand very well the deficiencies of their work, and that their knowledge and their desires have always found an obstacle in that economic question which, if it is explicable in politicians and public authorities, is shameful in scientists and takes away all value from their investigations. And this is exactly what has happened to the investigations of Binet and Co. (p.48)

From disparate sources, including The American Annals of the Deaf, I have pieced together something of Ferreri’s life.  He became an ‘instructor’ to the deaf in 1879.  Depending on when he was born then – and one Italian page says 1862 rather than 1860 – he would have been between 16 and 19.  In 1886 he was appointed Vice Director of the Royal Pendola Institute in Siena, and in 1892 he became editor of L’Educazione dei Sordomuti.  The American Annals of the Deaf calls him “one of the most voluminous as well as one of the ablest writers on the education of the deaf in Italy” (1901).  They add a note, in the brief notice of of the Catalogo Cronologico degli Scritti del Prof. Giulio Ferreri sull’ Educazione dei Sordomuti, (Siena, 1901), that as his future address is “Corso Castelfidardo 9, Turin, we infer that he is no longer connected with the Siena Institution, but we hope he is not permanently removed from the profession.”  It seems then that visited England and America in 1901/2, presumably on leave from Siena, for in January 1902 he was at 1760 Q Street, Washington, when his article ‘Another word about the battle of methods’ appeared in The American Annals of the Deaf, (Vol. 47, p.30-44) before moving on to spend time in Palermo and Rome.  In 1908 he was appointed to head the newly united teaching college and school in Milan.

Despite his ardent oralism, it seems there were dissenting voices in Italy.  The 1904 World’s Congress of the Deaf in St. Louis, Missouri, had two short letters from Italian teachers read out, by G. Gioda of the Turin Society of Deaf Mutes and  Francesco Guerra of Naples.  The former said “For the exclusive use of the oral method, preferred by some teachers, the deaf have no use, but by the manual method an individual may receive a complete education” (Proceedings of the World’s Congress of the Deaf, 1904, p.131), while the latter said,

If you, dear comrades, have at heart the sorrowful lot in which thousands and thousands of unhappy deaf people live, especially the deaf of this fair Italy, whose lot is most hard, sad and miserable, vote an order of the day in favor of the combined system and in condemnation of the oralist imposters and charlatans who have wronged and exploited us long enough.  […] I pray that the International Congress of the Deaf at St. Louis may signalize , if not our complete victory, at least an important step in our progress, the prelude and beginning of our approaching emancipation.  In the glorious and beneficent name of De l’Epee I greet you fraternally, crying: Down with the imposters; down with the oralist charlatans; down with the exploiters!  Long live De l’Epee; long live the honored Gallaudet, long live the Combined system! (ibid. p.130)

Unfortunately for them, it seems that the state stuck with Ferreri and his pure oralism. In 1907 he was at the International Congress on the Education of the Deaf in Edinburgh, where he presented this paper The Present State of the Education of the Deaf in Italy (Proceedings of the International Congress on the Education of the Deaf in Edinburgh, 1907, p.41-6).   In 1925 he attended the Sixth International Conference on the Education of the Deaf, held in Margate, presenting a paper on ‘National Control of the Education of the Deaf and Dumb’ (International Conference on the Education of the Deaf, 1925, p.65-69).  Later in the conference, he said

I am the oldest teacher, and I do not think that I should have come here.  In my opinion the old teachers must be tired.  They have nothing more to say, nothing more to teach, and it is necessary to have a young teacher.  In the hands of the young teacher lies the future. (ibid, p.210)

I think that Ferreri seems to be forgotten as an international figure, unless someone can add some additional sources of information.  The quotation from Guerra above is very interesting, and his choice of words, ‘deaf emancipation,’ seems to foreshadow the deaf liberation movement of the 1960s to 1980s.  Someone might like to research this area further.
Ferreri

The above signed photograph is inserted into the front of Oxley’s copy of the book.

He was made an honorary doctor by Gallaudet College at the same time as Selwyn Oxley.

The American Annals of the Deaf, 1901, Vol. 46, p.544

Translated by the author from l’Educazione dei Sordormuti for October 1909. Ferreri, G. 1910. Mistaken investigations concerning the value of the oral method. American Annals of the Deaf, 55(1), 34-38 [Reprinted in American Annals of the Deaf, Volume 142, Number 3, July 1997, pp. 46-48]

Alfred Binet, Théodore Simon American Annals of the Deaf, Volume 142, Number 3, July 1997, pp. 35-45

Moores, Donald F., American Annals of the Deaf, Volume 142, Number 3, July 1997, pp. xvi-xx

*https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=5dgzAQAAIAAJ&q=%22giulio+ferreri%22&dq=%22giulio+ferreri%22&hl=en&sa=X&redir_esc=y

**The writing might suggest 1914 but this seems wrong

I have not at present any information on Ferreri’s personal life – if I have we will update this.  He is I think the same as this Professor Giulio Ferreri who married an American lady, Ellen Charlotte Alexander, in London in 1901, but I understand that Ferreri is a common name in Italy, being the name for a ‘farrier’ – smith, so it is possible that is another Ferreri also from Milan.  My Italian colleague has searched for him in vain on the web.

EDITED with additional information on 27th & 28th Feb 2017

Voice trainer, Emil Behnke, “as accurate as Huxley and as fascinating as Faraday”

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 17 February 2017

BehnkeEmil Behnke (1836-1892) was born in Stettin, the son of a merchant, but became a naturalized British subject.  From around 1860 he began to study the voice, and “the physiological aspects of singing and speaking” (People, Places, and Things).  He sang baritone with an opera company, before moving to England in 1865 (Musical Herald, 1892).  He was one of the foremost voice trainers of the mid to late 19th century, in fact his obituary in The Times practically attributes the foundation of a new discipline to him:

At the age of 30 he began to lecture on “the Mechanism of the voice” under the auspices of such physiological experts as Professors Sharpey, Burdon Sanderson, M’Kendrick, and Struthers, and speedily had engagements at the foremost musical and scientific societies of the country.  So ingenious were his illustrative models and so successful was he in the application of scientific principles to the practical work of the teaching of singing, and more particularly to the restoration of voices impaired by false training, that he may be said to have established an entirely new profession, and he was universally accepted as a leading authority on all matters relating to the voice.  He was consulted by many eminent teachers of singing and worked in co-operation with leading medical specialists.

Behnke was co-author with Lennox Browne of The Child’s Voice  (1885), and Voice Song and Speech (1883).  Lennox Browne was a founder of the Royal National Throat Nose and Ear Hospital, our present home, and a leading ENT surgeon.  Interestingly, The Child’s Voice, was dedicated to Sir John Stainer the musician and composer, who was of course the brother of our old friend, the Rev. William Stainer, teacher of the Deaf.  I wonder if there were connections between William Stainer and Lennox Browne or Behnke.

According to Rachel Holmes, in her biography of Eleanor Marx, Eleanor Marx: a life (2014, p.158), she says that along with John Hullah, Behnke taught the theatrical couple Hermann and Jane Elizabeth Vezin.  As a teacher and lecturer he was, according to People, Places, and Things, “as accurate as Huxley and as fascinating as Faraday.”  He had a deep knowledge of vocal physiology and anatomy, and the same article says that he was invited to lecture at UCL by Burdon Sanderson and Sharpey, and that “Professor Foster put his theatre at Behnke’s disposal.”

Behnke held ‘concerts’ or as he preferred to say, ‘open rehearsals’ using the tonic sol-fa method of singing’ that was invented in Norwich by Sarah Glover and pioneered by John Curwen, who had been a student at UCL, and whose son, music publisher John Spencer Curwen, wrote Behnke’s obituary.  The Curwen’s knew Behnke from tonic sol-fa conventions.

One former school pupil of Behnke’s said, “he saved me from being an utter cad” (The Musical Herald, Nov 1, 1892).

There is a charming reminiscence of him in The Musical Herald (1898) by ‘E.D.’:

I was a little girl at a boarding-house in Weymouth when I became the pupil of Herr Behnke.  He was not then the noted voice specialist that he afterwards became, but a dark-haired young man fresh from Germany, who had been engaged to give drawing, French, and piano lessons at Miss S—–‘s school.  Although he had been in England, I believe, only a few weeks, his English was well-nigh perfect.
[…]

“Never mind the notes,” he would say, when I was over-anxious lest my fingers should drop on the wrong keys; “Never mind the notes, keep time!

John S. Curwen, who clearly held him in very high regard, said, “He stood halfway between the doctor and the singing master” (p.293).  He died in Ostend on a holiday, when he was trying to recuperate from the illness that dogged his last years.  His friend Lennox Browne even crossed over to see if there was anything he could do to help, but Behnke died on the 17th of September, 1892, at the age of only 56 (Curwen, p.291).

His wife and his daughter Kate Emil-Behnke continued his teaching legacy, and both wrote books and updated his books.  There is much more interesting to say about the three of them, beyond the scope of this item.

The Mechanism of the Human VoiceCurwen, J Spencer. The Musical Herald; London 535, (Oct 1, 1892): 291-294

THE LATE EMIL BEHNKE.The Musical Herald; London 536 (Nov 1, 1892): 351-351.

Some Reminiscences of Emil Behnke. E D. The Musical Herald; London 598(Jan 1, 1898): 22-22.

People, Places, and Things. Hearth and Home (London, England), Thursday, October 13, 1892; pg. 716; Issue 74

The Times 19th of September 1892, p. 9

1871 Census (Curwen family) – Class: RG10; Piece: 1629; Folio: 11; Page: 13; GSU roll: 829938

[Picture from the obituary in The Musical Herald.]

“I think I am as devoted to and I hope I have been as as successful in promoting the oral system as any one living.” Dr. David Buxton

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 10 February 2017

Dr. David Buxton (1821-1897) was a teacher of the deaf at Liverpool.  He was co-founder of The Quarterly Review of Deaf Mute Education, an important publication that pre-dated the foundation of the National Association for Teachers of the Deaf and its journal, the Teacher of the Deaf, and spent the last years of his life working as secretary then Superintendent to the Manchester Adult Deaf and Dumb Institute.  He was also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Buxton was born in Manchester, son of Jesse, a cotton spinner, and his wife Ann.  On the Manchester baptismal register he was one of 64 children baptised on Sunday the 17th of June, 1821 (see records on ancestry.com).   His obituary in The British Deaf Monthly, from which much of the following comes, says, “Of his early life we know little until his twentieth year, when he became an inmate of the Old Kent Road asylum, remaining there ten years, at first as junior, and ending as head assistant teacher.”  According to his evidence to The Royal Commission on the Blind, the Deaf and Dumb, he started his teaching career at Old Kent Road in January 1841, and went to Liverpool in October 1851 (page 309. paragraph 9183 in the Minutes of Evidence).  From there he moved to Liverpool as headmaster, where he remained for 26 years.  Branson and Miller (p.194) tell us that Buxton joined the Old Kent Road Asylum “on the recommendation of the Reverend Alexander Watson of St. Andrews Ancoats, a relative of Dr. Watson whom he had met through a mutual interest in literature.”  Unfortunately they give us no source for that statement.  Alexander Watson was in fact a son of Dr. Joseph Watson by his second wife, Susannah Littlewood (thanks to @DeafHeritageUK for pointing that out).

In 1878 David Buxton became Secretary of the Ealing Teacher Training College, and was consequently on good terms with the oralist, Sir Benjamin Ackers.  Ackers was one of the members of the Royal Commission.  In his evidence to the Royal Commission of 1886, Buxton said (p.309), “I think I am as devoted to and I hope I have been as successful in promoting the oral system as any one living.”  In paragraph 9179, he explains “My own special duty at the Old Kent Road was to teach the first class; I taught all to speak as it was called then, teaching them articulation.”  Further on in his extensive testimony, which continues for over twelve pages of dense text, he was asked, presumably by the chairman of the committee for that session, Lord Egerton of Tatton,

We have three systems of teaching the deaf and dumb: the sign system, the combined system, and the oral system.  Do you think that any one of those is so superior to the others that the State ought to insist that only should be taught; or do you think that there must be two or more systems recognised side by side by the State?”

He responded,

“I am so thoroughly in earnest in my advocacy of the superiority of the oral system, that I should be very glad to see every other extinguished; but I know that must be a matter of time.  The oral system is incomparably the best; it is not open to question at all, because it assimilates the deaf to the class with whom they live.  If I want to communicate by signs to a deaf child I have to descend to his level: but by the oral system I endeavour to raise him to my level.  For a time perhaps the combined system may struggle on: I think that is very probable; but that the sign system in itself will last I have not the slightest expectation.  I think it will die out. (paragraph 9221)

Dr David Buxton

Some might say it is “an unconscionable time dying.”

On a curious note, in paragraph 9255 (p.314), he is asked about encouraging games such as cricket and football in school, and tells the commission, “One of my pupils at Liverpool came from Chester; he came to Liverpool to school to save himself from being drowned in the Chester Canal, I expect, for they could not keep the fellow out of the canal; he was in all day long on a summer’s day.”

The whole report is very long, but reading snatches of it brings the period to life, being reported speech, and I imagine, accurately recorded as an official report.  This exchange is very illuminating:

9262. […] when I first became a teacher the very large proportion of those who taught in the institutions were deaf teachers.

9263.  That is objectionable, is it not?  – Most objectionable.  When I went into the Old Kent Road Asylum, I think the staff was 12; I was the third who who could hear and all the other nine were deaf.   They were very good specimens of what the combined system could do; most of them could speak; they all made signs to their pupils and to one another, but nearly all spoke to us, the hearing staff.  Now I think deaf teachers are almost obsolete […]*

Buxton’s degree of 1870 was a rare honour,  conferred on him, Harvey Peet, William Turner, and Charles Baker, by Edward M. Gallaudet (American Annals of the Deaf, 1870, p.256).  It illustrates how influential his various articles were in the years before the Milan Congress.

In the Rev. Fred Gilby’s memoirs (p.149) he recalls Buxton :

I remember that Dr. Buxton was living, an extra-pure oralist though he was in theory, he ended up his days by acting as missionary to the deaf, and was acting as such in 1895 when I got there.  A foremost champion of pure oralism, he was polite enough to come and lunch with me and to honour me with his company.  He was a master of pure English but “how are the mighty fallen”, and he was now “preaching to the deaf on his fingers!”  Sunday after Sunday in his old age he came to be using the method he had for a number of years been cursing up hill and down dale.

Buxton died of influenza on the 23rd of April, 1897, and was buried at Smithdown Road Cemetery, Liverpool. Ephphatha‘s editorial for June, 1897, says,

Many regarded him as the Nestor of our cause.  He undoubtedly possessed a vast store of knowledge and a ready pen and tongue.  But he did not prosper in a worldly sense.  His life was beset with difficulties, with thorns and trials, yet he worked bravely on, good natured, patient, and scholarly unto the last.  Let him be remembered for the good he did, and for the strenuous service of his seventy years.

American Annals of the Deaf, 1897, Volume 42 (4), p,269-70

Branson, J. & Miller, D., Damned for their Difference: the Cultural Construction of Deaf People as Disabled. Gallaudet, 2002

Obituary. British Deaf Monthly, 1897, 6, 151.

Portrait. British Deaf-Mute and Deaf Chronicle, 1894, 3, 36.

Buxton, D., On the Education of the Deaf and Dumb in Lancashire and Cheshire, Volume: 6 (1853-1854) Pages: 91-102

Buxton, D., On some results of the census of the deaf and dumb in 1861, Volume: 17 (1864-1865) Pages: 231-248

1891 census – Class: RG12; Piece: 3183; Folio: 67; Page: 19; GSU roll: 6098293

1861 census – Class: RG 9; Piece: 2683; Folio: 84; Page: 1; GSU roll: 543012

Alexander Watson (1815/16–1865): doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/28827

*[For the continuation of this exchange, I feel a future blog entry will be necessary]

“The Constitution of the Deaf and Dumb” – William B. Smith, & James Hawkins – a Reader & an Author

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 3 February 2017

Three headmasters 1907William Barnes Smith (1840-1927) was a younger brother of the Rev. Samuel Smith, first vicar of St. Saviour’s, and missioner to the Deaf of London.  He was born in Leicestershire, and spent 54 years teaching up to his retirement in 1908.  His older brother was the Rev. Samuel Smith, of St. Saviour’s London.  William trained under Charles Baker of Doncaster, then worked under Andrew Patterson at Manchester before spending 12 years with Dr. Buxton at Liverpool.  In 1873 he was appointed headmaster of the Bristol Institution (see obituary).  He also acted as Secretary to the Bristol Mission for the Deaf after retirement.  His son Alfred G. Smith trained at the Fitzroy Square Training College, then became headmaster of the Osborne Street  School for the Deaf, Hull (Teacher of the Deaf, 1915, vol. 13, p. 27).

On the 20th of June, 1864, William B. Smith bought a copy of The physical, Moral, and Intellectual Constitution of the Deaf and Dumb: with some practical and general remarks concerning their education.  I know this as he wrote that in ink on the title page, pencilling ‘Liverpool’ underneath.  Later, he wrote his name and address inside the front cover – 5 Rokeby Avenue, Bristol .  He later gave the book to Selwyn Oxley.  This book, which had been published in London in 1863, was written by James Hawkins (1830- after 1891).  Hawkins was born in Wolvercut, Wolvercott, or Wolvercote, Oxfordshire, in about 1830.  I do not know how he came to become a teacher of the deaf (perhaps a thorough search of various surviving records might illuminate that), but by the 1851 census he was an assistant teacher at the Old Kent Road Asylum, along with George Banton, (b.ca. 1812), Edward J Chidley (b. 1819), Edward Buxton (b.ca. 1826), William Stainer (b. 1828), Charles Toy (b.ca. 1832), Alfred Large (b.ca.1835), and Emma Rayment (b.ca.  1829).

The present crude state of all physiological, as well as pathological science, necessarily renders very conjectural any remarks upon the origo mali, or the phenomena of disease.  The fall of Adam is one of the most favourite of the theories which are nursed by Divines and others, in an excess of Hutchinsonian zeal; and to this ‘excellent foppery of the world,’ as Shakespeare has it, they like to attribute every bodily affliction and mental evil that can happen to mankind.  Argumentative reasoning, however (of this kind especially), shows ‘an indiscreet zeal about things wherein religion is not concerned,’ as weak as it is undoubtedly fallacious, and affords them but a poor ‘coigne of vantage;’ for the majority of our inborn  and acquired calamities are ofttimes none other than the ‘surfeit of our own behaviour,’ the spontaneous results of injury done to the functions of the body, by throwing its natural and complex organization out of gear, and not, as many would make us believe, always direct constitutional imprints of the Creator’s anger on his creatures. (Hawkins, 1863, Preface, p.iii-iv).

Hawkins must have had a good education.  In his preface alone he mentions Paley and Malthus, as well as quoting Ovid and, perhaps ingenuously, “no cormorant for fame,” Peter Pindar.  The names of more classical authors are dropped in when opportunity allows.  He cites Niebuhr, who

called the office of the schoolmaster one of the most honourable occupations of life.  He could well have added, and one in which a thorough manliness of character is also most essential; for there is not one where all the manly virtues are more called into exercise.  Moral courage, unsullied reputation and integrity, sound religious principles, firmness of purpose and gentleness of demeanour ought ever to be his most distinguishing traits, if he aspire to any degree of eminence in his profession. (ibid, p.98)

It is all the more poignant then, that for some reason, by 1871, when he was living in Greenwich with Charles Henry James, Harbour Master at the Port of London, he was ‘unemployed’, and ‘formerly Assistant Teacher to the Deaf & D. Institute’.  I wonder what caused him to be dismissed.  Did his book upset people?  It would seem unlikely that a book published eight years earlier might cause his dismissal.  Is it possible he was tutoring Ellen James, who was deaf, though by then aged 25?  In the 1881 census he was a ‘wholesale stationer’ visiting the James family.  It looks as if something or someone destroyed his life as a teacher.  If you discover more about James Hawkins, who does not seem to have married, and who I cannot find after the 1891 census when he was a visitor in St. Pancras, please comment.

Here is a page from the text.  Click to enlarge.Hawkins 2

Smith

Obituary, Mr. W.B. Smith, The Teacher of the Deaf, 1927, vol. 25 p.35

Hawkins 

Hawkins, James, The physical, Moral, and Intellectual Constitution of the Deaf and Dumb: with some practical and general remarks concerning their education. 1863, Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts, & Green, London

1871 Census – Class: RG10; Piece: 758; Folio: 34; Page: 31; GSU roll: 824727

1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 1509; Folio: 41; Page: 5; GSU roll: 1341364

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 139; Folio: 71; Page: 1; GSU roll: 6095249

*”This is the excellent foppery of the world that when we are sick in fortune—often the surfeit of our own behavior—we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars, as if we were villains by necessity, fools by heavenly compulsion, knaves, thieves, and treachers by spherical predominance, drunkards, liars, and adulterers by an enforced obedience of planetary influence, and all that we are evil in by a divine thrusting-on.” Edmund in King Lear.

“Oh, that the younger generation of the deaf were more like him!” Saul Magson of Manchester

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 27 January 2017

Saul MagsonSaul Magson was born in Manchester in August 1813.  He was, according to the census return for 1871, ‘deaf from birth’.  His obituary however says that he lost his hearing aged two, after an illness ‘attended with convulsions’.  The The British Deaf-Mute (1894), on which much of this is based, also says that he was one of the earliest pupils at the Salford School, what became The Manchester School,in February, 1825.  It was then under its first headmaster, William Vaughan, with eight girls and six boys (Bessant, 1892, p.98-9).  Vaughan had been an assistant master at the Old Kent Road Asylum.  As an aside, it would be very illuminating to draw a connected list of teachers, to see under whom each one trained, making an intellectual family tree in the way that is sometimes done for academics.

Magson became a clerk in Manchester Town Hall, but he never married.  He worked there for forty years until retirement.  In 1871 he was living with his younger brother James, a ‘stone and flag salesman’ (census 1871).  He was a regular at the Manchester Society for Promoting the Spiritual and Temporal Welfare of the Deaf, which was established in 1850, and until 1854 apparently he ran it with Mr. Patterson.  He also held services for deaf people in Ashton-under-Lyme, Oldham, Bury and Rochdale, among other places.  He was friends with G.A.W. Downing and William Stainer, (later both becoming ‘the Reverend) among many others.  “He was methodical, and notably punctual.  He often spoke of the friendly appreciation and kindness he received from the late Sir Joseph Heron, the first Town Clerk of Manchester, in whose department he was employed.”  He lived through the period of the extraordinary growth of Manchester.  By the time he moved to Southport, much of the town must have been totally transformed.  Heron earned an astounding £2,500 a year at one point, so I wonder how much Magson earned.  It is possible that there are records in Manchester archives that would tell us more about Magson and what he worked on.

he was a good servant; he knew his own mind; he knew when he was well off, and he was not one of those who are “given to change.”  The consequence was that he was never out of a situation.  He kept the same situation and no other for forty years.  Oh, that the younger generation of the deaf were more like him!

Saul Magson died on the 12th of April 1894, and was interred at Cheetham Hill, Manchester.  If you know that cemetery, and have the opportunity to see where he is buried, please let us know in the comment field below.

In Memoriam – the Late Saul Magson, The British Deaf-Mute, 1894, vol.3 p.119

The Manchester School, Quarterly Review of Deaf Mute Education, 1892, vol. 2 p.97-108) 

1871 census – Class: RG10; Piece: 3979; Folio: 87; Page: 4; GSU roll: 846090

V. R. Parrott, ‘Heron, Sir Joseph (1809–1889)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/49712, accessed 27 Jan 2017]

“the deaf who had been taught by the manual method were more intelligent & much better educated…” Agar & Rosa Russell

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 13 January 2017

Rosa Brommage was born in Wolverhampton in 1862, fourth child of Alfred, a clerk for a cemetery company, originally from Kidderminster, and his wife Caroline.  Her older sisters, Caroline and Annie, were both, like Rosa, deaf ‘from birth’ according to the census return.  Her five younger siblings all had normal hearing.  On the 18th of April, 1892, she married Agar Russell, who had lost his hearing aged 12.  Agar’s father was originally Samuel Gunster, from a Jewish family in Posen, although Agar said that they did not know his nationality – whether Polish or German.  Samuel went to America as a young man, but somehow avoided conscription and ended up in London, where he met his ‘wife’, though Agar was never sure whether they were married (various pages in his Reminiscences).

Agar Russell April 1899 Ephphatha 1We have the manuscript of Agar’s memoirs, Surdus; Reminiscences, written it seems in the war years.  They are rather higgledy-piggledy, with chapters that are themed rather than being chronological, for example “Workhouses and other Institutions,” or “Holiday Adventures.”  Some things you would like to know are not mentioned in much detail.

Agar Russell had grown up in London, where he was acquainted with the Rev. Fred Gilby and various people in the St.Saviour’s Deaf church congregation.  When he was 16, it was suggested that he become a teacher to the deaf, yet, as he says, “having never met a deaf and dumb person, or seen the manual alphabet.”  He went to the Llandaff School for six years as assistant to Alexander Melville.  The children of the school “gave a smiling welcome, and then began to make remarks to one another in a gesture language which I felt I should never be able to understand.”

Agar paints an interesting picture of life in the school.  He does not seem to have particularly liked the headmaster, Alexander Melville, and was not impressed by his teaching methods.  Melville “expected the children to answer his questions on subjects of which they had not sufficient written instructions.”  “Mrs Melville was deaf and dumb, of a quiet and gentle disposition and of no unusual attainments, and evidently in awe of her husband.  We cannot but conjecture that this union was due to her being the means of his requiring funds for the purpose of establishing the school” (see his Reminiscences).  When Mr Clyne of Bristol Deaf School came to take over temporarily after the death of Melville’s first wife,  Agar says he used instructions in writing before he put questions to the pupils –

Who? – Does? – What?

Mary – sweeps – the floor

What? – Done? – By Whom?

The floor – is swept – by Mary

In his Reminiscences he also said, “From my own experience I found that the deaf who had been taught by the manual method were more intelligent and much better educated than those brought up on the manual system.”  In the Ephphatha interview in 1896, Agar’s questioner, ‘C’, asked him,

“Speaking of the need for special services, have you ever met with a deaf person who could follow an ordinary discourse, by watching the lips of the speaker?”
“No, never; only a few who could with more or less difficulty make out short sentences uttered in an exaggerated manner by the speaker.  […] To suppose that children educated on the oral system can read everybody’s lips, even if everybody is patient enough to try them, is fallacious; and to assert that they can follow an ordinary viva voce lecture or sermon, is absurd.  The training of the mind of the deaf is more perfectly accomplished by the manual method and writing.  Many of the graduates of the oral system have a very poor grasp of language, and a very inferior mental development, as a consequence of their having been forced through many weary years to learn mere articulation and lip-reading.” (Ephphatha, p.67)

Mrs Russell jubilee ticketAgar took photos when he was in the Staffordshire mission, many being stuck into the annual reports that we have for the mission.  I expect that these were Agar’s own copies and that they were donated or willed to the library when Agar died in 1956, aged 91.  Unfortunately for us, this means that his photos are still in copyright for another ten years, so without knowing who inherited the copyright and holds it at present, we cannot legally reproduce his photos taken in the 1890s.

Rosa died in 1942, after fifty years of marriage.

Mr Russell Agar, an interview.  Ephphatha, vol.4 p.66-7, 1899

Russell, Agar, Surdus – Reminiscences.  Unpublished manuscript in library.

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 2229; Folio: 20; Page: 34; GSU roll: 6097339

Merry Yule & Happy New Year!

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 23 December 2016

Away until the 3rd of January 2017.Silent World 1948