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Charles Birtwistle, Deaf Missioner – “he approves of the Oral Method for those able to profit by it.”

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 19 October 2018

Charles Birtwistle was born in Rochdale in 1850.  Being deaf from birth, he was sent to the Old Trafford school in Manchester, where he learnt with the ‘silent’ or manual method.  His father was a warehouseman, according to the 1862 Manchester Annual Report, who paid £2 12s a year in fees.  He joined the school on the 26th of July, 1858, so he would have left  (p.12). The census shows that his older brother James (born 1847) was also ‘deaf and dumb’ and he had joined the school on the 31st of July, 1854, at which time their father was paying £5 4 s per year in fees.  The headmaster at that time was Patterson, and F.G.C. Goodwin was one of the teachers.

In The British Deaf Monthly when they featured him in March 1900 (p.99) he says that although he was never taught to speak, “he approves of the Oral Method for those able to profit by it.”  Note the qualification.

After leaving school he became a ‘clogger’ as did James.  Sadly James Birtwistle died aged only 20 in 1867.

He was described as a ‘pioneer’ of the Rochdale and District Adult Deaf and Dumb Society (1931 Annual Report, p.3).*  The mission was first established at Bolton, as a branch of the Manchester mission, in 1869, meetings initially being held at the Trinity Church Schools (Ephphatha p.630).   The first missioner was F.G.C. Goodwin.  The Rochdale branch was founded in September 1871, and services were conducted in the Co-operative Hall until 1895.  Birtwistle rarely took services himself, but was a regular at the services and meetings – “where his presence does much to ensure an orderly and profitable gathering.”

He married wife Emily Derrick, who was hearing, in 1877, the service being conducted by the Rev George A.W. Downing (1828-80).  The Irish born Downing was a Teacher of the Deaf first at Claremont, Strabane, and then took over from Rev.William Stainer at Manchester in 1866.

Birtwistle’s four children were all hearing.  He died in February 1932.

It is interesting how so many people in the Deaf world of Northern England can be connected with a relatively obscure and humble man, and illustrates how many more ‘histores’ there are to be written.

* Pages are un-numbered.

1851 Census – Class: HO107; Piece: 2244; Folio: 9; Page: 11; GSU roll: 87261-87263

1861 Census – Class: RG 9; Piece: 3045; Folio: 31; Page: 4; GSU roll: 543069

BOLTON, BURY, ROCHDALE AND DISTRICT ADULT DEAF AND DUMB SOCIETY (1869-?)

Historical sketch. British Deaf Monthly, 1896, 6, 31-36. (photos of missioners)

History and work. Ephphatha, 1922, 52, 630-631.

A Missioner, two frauds, and UCL

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 12 October 2018

R.W. Dodds (1866-1948) was from Cramlington, Newcastle.  He became a teacher of the deaf under B.H. Payne in Swansea, then at Old Trafford under Bessant, and finally went to Donaldson’s Hospital, Edinburgh, before becoming a missioner.  His first appointment as such was in Dundee, then later he was missioner in Belfast from 1903 to 1939.  He was a regular contributor to the British Deaf News in that period.

There have always been unscrupulous people who exploit the good nature and generosity of the public, and who thus cause huge harm to trust. In October, 1897, when he was missioner to the Deaf of Dundee, Dodds wrote a letter to The Dundee Courier & Argus, about two such beggers, one representing herself as deaf but almost certainly hearing, and the other apparently deaf for about two years.

LETTERS TO EDITOR.
A WARNING. TO THE EDITORS OF THE DUNDEE COURIER. SIR.,—

I beg to warn the public, and particularly managers of public works, workshops, &c., against respectably dressed deaf mutes soliciting help by means of letters. One at present in the district hailing from London shows a book containing some rough sketches described as his own work, and signing himself as “Jack Leslie.” He is well dressed, and by putting on a bold front is readily admitted into factories, stores, and workshops, being regarded by porters as a factory inspector or traveller. His method of proceeding is to leave circulars, and then return to collect subscriptions from workmen, &c., who generally help him all round. I would also draw attention to a young girl representing herself as Shields, dressmaker, aged 17, an orphan, and deaf and dumb, from Whitehaven, England. Has a ruddy complexion, and generally wears a brown Jacket. Having come across her begging late in the day by means of a letter, I stopped her, and after inquiries made arrangements to get her work, but instead of appearing at time appointed she escaped by an early train. As she has passed through all the towns south of Dundee, carefully evading missionaries and deaf and dumb persons, I expect she has proceeded northward. It is doubtful as to her being a deaf mute. Again, I would earnestly request the public to refuse all such deaf mute applicants, both the respectable and the poorly clad, and refer them to Mr Dodds, 31 Reform Street, who is now prepared to attend to the genuine needs of all deaf mutes, and to find them suitable work. As this mission is supported by public subscription through an authorised collector, we sincerely regret that vagrants should be allowed to impose on a generous people. The authorised collector for our Mission is finished for this year.—I am, &c., R. W. DODDS, Missionary. October 23, 1897.

A few days earlier, the Dundee Evening Telegraph described Leslie as follows –

Medium-sized of gentlemanly appearance, dark, clean-shaven attired in a black suit, and wearing a dark straw hat, one might take him for a traveller attached to a well-to-do publishing firm, a supposition which would appear to be borne out by the fact of his currying a portfolio under his arm. But this gentleman is no ordinary traveller, and if he should drift across the readers path you will find he has an extraordinary tale to tell.

In November, 1897, the British Deaf Monthly published an article about Jack Leslie, if indeed that was his real name.  They included the text of his mawkish appeal to sentiment referred to above, designed to make anyomne who refused him feel guilty of cruelty.

AN AFFLICTED TALENT.

PLEASE: READ.

The only joy in my silent life is Art.

I am not begging. A mute’s appeal.

Ah! Nature itself is beauty alone to those who can speak

and hear and listen to the music of God’s

own nature, and speak to the ones

he loves most dear.

Please purchase my Poems below and assist me

to become an Artist.

Price whatever you desire to give.

Small as well as large gifts will be thankfully received.

Everything helps.

To the Reader,—For more than two years I have been deaf and dumb from a horrible attack of scarlet fever, and, as I am alone in this world, my sole ambition is to become an artist. My father has been dead for four years. Two years ago I became seriously ill with scarlet fever, and my only friend, my mother, attended me during my illness, and was my only comfort. But alas! for her duty and kindness, one day became ill herself with the fever, which was caught by attending me. After my mother was stricken with the fever, and on awaking one morning, I tried to call her in the next room. I made several efforts to speak, but the words came in soft whispers. I could neither speak nor hear, and everything appeared silent and dead about me. “My God,” I whispered in a breath, “I cannot speak or hear.” The feelings that crept over me you must imagine—my pan can never describe them. I went to the room occupied by my sick mother. She smiled on me when I entered, her eyes closed and her pale lips moved, but I could not hear what she muttered. When she learned the fact that I was deaf and dumb she took from her hand her wedding ring, and, placing it upon my left hand, kissed me good-bye as she breathed her last moments. I believe now it was the shock she received that killed her as she learned of ray sorrow and the thought of my past misfortunes. Would to God I had died with my poor mother than to be left upon earth a burden to myself, as you see before your eyes. I take my sorrow more to heart than any one born deaf and dumb. They are more happy than I because they know not what it was to be happy before, with a promising future and a happy home, but which now has passed to misfortune and sorrow. God only knows what I have suffered, and what I deserve. God has left me one gift, and that is art, for which you will see I have a great natural talent by looking at the sketch-book I carry. I hope by offering the poems below, which I composed myself, for sale to obtain money enough to study art at the Slade School of Art, University College. What you give will never be missed from your pocket, and all will be put to good use, for I am not a beggar. God will reward you by future good fortunes, for perhaps Providence has been more kind to you than me. If so, assist me all you can, and thus cast a ray of hope and sunshine on a dark and gloomy pathway.

N.B.- I speak both double and single hand language. Any one doubting my affliction can inquire at University College. (British Deaf Times, Nov. 1897, p.3)

Oh dear!

The University College Secretary, J.M. Horsburgh was forced to put out a statement in July saying that Leslie was nothing to do with them and had no connection with the Slade School.  It would have been simple enough to test his finger spelling ability.  He had made all sorts of claims, including being an American artist, but no one saw any of his work apart from the few sketches he showed when begging.  He dressed well and liked to stay in good hotels, having carried out his fraud in Ireland as well as Scotland, where he was run out of Glasgow by two detectives and forced to buy a train ticket to London, presumably England being considered fair game.

The BDT article says that he was a little over 18 years old, and, “although he belongs to London, has spent some time in America” (p.3).  It says that, as he claimed, he could not hear and had no speech.  I wonder if there are records of him in America, but the problem is, he may have used more than one name.  The article ends saying that he “is now in prison charged with indecency and begging” (p.4)

I wonder what became of him.

Dundee Evening TelegraphThursday 21 October 1897; pg. 2

The Dundee Courier & Argus (Dundee, Scotland), Friday, October 22, 1897; pg. 5; Issue 13828

The Dundee Courier & Argus (Dundee, Scotland), Monday, October 25, 1897; pg. 4; Issue 13830

The Morning Post (London, England), Tuesday, July 27, 1897; pg. 3; Issue 39044

The Late Rev R.W.Dodds, C.T.D. Obituary, British Deaf Times 1947, XLV p.87

Wanted to be an Artist. British Deaf Times, Nov. 1897, p.3-4

 

Tuba Stentoro-Phonica an Instrument of Excellent Use, as Well as at Sea as at Land

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 4 October 2018

Here are some pictures from our copy of Sir Samuel Morland’s Tuba Stentoro-Phonica an Instrument of Excellent Use, as Well as at Sea as at Land: Invented and Variously Experimented in the Year 1670 and Humbly Presented to the Kings Most Excellent Majesty Charles II, in the Year 1671.  Morland (1625–1695), a diplomat and inventor, had been on the side of the Commonwealth but when he became disillusioned, he became a double agent, supporting the Restoration.

He is credited with inventing the speaking trumpet, an early megaphone.

Original DNB entry

Wikipedia entry

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/letters/7847425/An-inventive-interest-in-giant-military-ear-trumpets.html

“to show the problems of the deafmutes as reflected by a prismatic light” – The World Federation of the Deaf, 1951-

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 28 September 2018

The World Federation of the Deaf was founded in 1951 by Cesare Magarotto (photographed here at the 1951 congress), inspired by his father, Antonio Magarotto.  In his Leslie Edwards Memorial Lecture for 1968, Allan B. Hayhurst of the B.D.D.A. wrote a little about the history of the organisation.  Antoinio Magarotto was a Paduan who had helped found the Italian Deaf Association, Ente nazionale sordi in 1932.  His son extended his father’s ambition to bring Deaf people together, to the world.  He wrote the following ‘Introduction’ to the 1951 inaugural Congress, held in Rome.  The translation is rather too flowery in English and too Latinate to be easy to read, but it conveys his vision:

The tragedy which had upset the world was just finished and when it still lasted in the minds of the conquerors and the conquered, when only a feeble light was perceived — a light of appeasement due to the pity and to the necessity of an economical rehabilitation — from the sensorial disabled people arose a noble invocation of fraternity, equality and solidarity.

The people mutilated by nature and by the atavic faults of society; the people who had found again the light and the sounds in the Faith and in the Love; the people who had participated in this intimate song because they felt the same blood in their veins and had the same aspirations «could easily, in the name of the mutual sacrifice, cross the frontiers and feel only their fraternity».

The feeling of mutual assistance — very strong in the sensorial disabled people and especially in the deafmutes —the desire to hold together after the general disaster, the necessity of exchanging opinions about the protection of the human and social rights of the category, started the organization of the Congress.

Italy — which organized, in 1911, the first International Congress of Deafmutes — was called again to receive the representatives of the «silent brothers» of all the world and, with them, the Scientists, the Doctors, the Educators and the Organisers specialised in the matter.

The Organizing Committee (differently from the past Congresses) tried to show the problems of the deafmutes as reflected by a prismatic light, in order to enhance the progress made in all the fields, and also in the scientific one, and to collaborate in the pursuit of the welfare of the category.

The relations on organisation, the thesis of social character, the communications of the doctors and of the educators reported in this volume shows the considerable activity of the three Sessions of the Congress.

The doctors and the educators have confirmed that —with the progress of medicine and pedagogy — the born deafmutes and those who became deaf in their infancy, if they are exempt from other infirmities can be considered psychically normal and capable of becoming specialized workmen and of going through a regular course of studies; they have done homage to the work of the organisers and of the deaf who have drawn the attention of the Governments upon the problems of the deafmutes and who have devoted their activity to the new acquisitions of science; they have expressed the wish that the National Associations would promote periodically national and international meetings.

The representatives of the category have examined and compared the social realizations — inestimable patrimony of the most civilized nations — and have pointed out the responsibility of society for the want of instruction of so many deafmutes; they have asked the International Organisations to take interest in the problem and they have expressed their gratitude to all the educators — from the most eminent to the humblest — who have been the first to indicate the way of rehabilitation and to expose to the Governments the social problem of the recovery of so many people.

The Congress, with the constitution of the World Federation has confirmed the necessity of such a collaboration and has fulfilled its highest task lying the foundations for organic interventions in the various Countries on behalf of the deaf-mutes.

We must be grateful to the Parliamentary Friends and of the Italian Government for their economical and moral aid in the organisation of this Congress; we set them as an example for the good of the deafmutes.

The attestations of the international Press, of the Parliaments and of the Governments prove that our work has not been useless, and the consciousness of having contributed in the recovery also of one single «silent brother is the best reward for us.
Rome. July 1953.
CESARE MAGAROTTO (p.xi-xiii)

Typically the British did not attend the first congress, and only fully joined in 1957 (Hayhurst p.4)

On page 534 of the Atti… we read that Lucien Morel, the French delegate, says that in 1937 there was a congress in Paris with 35 nations taking part.  I cannot find mention of that in the British Deaf Times, nor in a quick look at one of the French journals we have, Revue Generale de l’Eseignement des Sourdes-Muets, but perhaps a more careful search would find it.  Magarotto mentions a 1911 conference, and we have found mentions of it, but it is not clear how big it was.  The British Deaf Times (1911 p.180) says,

A Committee has been formed to organise a Congress of the Deaf to be held at Rome during August. It is fixed to take place from the 22nd to the 27th ‘of the month, and those who are planning a visit to Italy should make note of the date of this interesting gathering.  It seems curious that in countries which appear to be most deeply rooted to the oral method of instruction, the most interesting Congresses of the adult deaf are organised from time to time, in the course of which they do not fail to use such methods of communicating with one another as they find most convenient —no matter whether their school life was spent under oral instruction or otherwise.

From Rivista di Pedagogia Emendatrice 1911 (7) p.229 we see that it does not appear as it the congress was well-attended enough to be considered ground-breaking, with delegates being more or less confined to French, Spanish and Italian.

I include a few of these references here:

Hayhurst, A.B. The World Federation of the Deaf.  1968 Leslie Edwards Memorial Lecture

L Educazione (Nov 1911)

Rivista di Pedagogia Emendatrice, 1911 no.7

World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf

Here are the titles in English – as printed in the case of the first. We have the ones with *

*1st- Official Acts of the World Congress of the Deaf mutes. (Atti Ufficiali del Congresso Mondiale dei Sordomuti) Rome, Italy 19-23rd September 1951

*2nd – Proceedings of the 2nd World Congress of the Deaf. Zagreb, Jugoslavia 23-27th Aug 1955

*3rd – Proceedings of the 3rd World Congress of the Deaf. Wiesbaden, Germany 20-27th Aug 1959

*4th – Proceedings of the 4th World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf. Stockholm, Sweden 17-21st Aug 1963

*5th – The 5th World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf. The Deaf Among the Hearing. Warsaw, Poland 10-17th Aug 1967

*6th- Proceedings of the 6th World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf. The Deaf Person in the World of Evolution. Paris, France 31st July-5th Aug 1971

*7th – 7th World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf. Full Citizenship for All Deaf People. Washington DC, USA 31st July-7th Aug 1975

*8th – 8th World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf. The Deaf People in Modern Society. Varna, Bulgaria 20-27th June 1979

9th – 9th World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf. Deafness Today & Tomorrow: Reality & Utopia. Palermo, Italy 1-6th July 1983.

*10th – Proceedings: One World, One Responsibility. 10th World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf.  Espoo, Finland 20-28th July 1987

*11th – Proceedings: Equality & Self Reliance. 11th World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf.  Tokyo, Japan 2-11th July 1991

*12th – Proceedings: Towards Human Rights. 12th World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf.  Vienna, Austria 6-15th July 1995

13th – Proceedings 13th World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf. “Diversity & Unity”. Brisbane, Australia 25th July-1st Aug 1999

14th – 14th World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf. Montreal, Canada 20-26th July 2003. Not published in 2006.

15th – 15th Congress 2007 World Congress, Madrid, Spain

16th – 16th Congress 2011 World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf, Durban South Africa http://www.cbm.org/article/downloads/62437/WFD_2011_-_CBM_Report.pdf

17th – 17th Congress 2015 World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf, Istanbul Turkey

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Federation_of_the_Deaf

Thanks to @interphistory www.interpreterhistory.com for some helpful suggestions!

Holcroft’s “Deaf & Dumb; or The Orphan Protected” 1819

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 21 September 2018

Thomas Holcroft was born in Orange Court, Leicester fields on December 22nd, 1744, son of a shoemaker (see introductory remarks to the play, p.ii).  He was employed by a Mr Vernon riding his horses at Newmarket, but the continued to work in his father’s trade and educate himself in music and painting.  In his mid-twenties his interest was captured by the theatre.  In 1802 (according to the date on the cast list) he produced an adaptation of Bouilly’s 1799 play, L’Abbé de L’Épée.  A previous blog noted the prose version of this story – Harancour Place; or the Orphan Protected.  It is, we are told in the introductory note (perhaps by Oxberry I wonder), “a sort of sentimental pantomime, exquisitely happy in the construction of the fable and tender in the sympathy it inspire; and may be considered as a practical test how far situation and feeling alone will go to the production of the most powerfulb and even refined dramatic effect, without the help of poetry or impassioned dialogue.” (p.i)

The story involves the boy Thomas, educated by l’Epée, (spoiler alert) who is really Julio, Count of Harcour.  In the original French version, the Deaf boy uses gestures.  “These gestures do not replicate the sign language de l’Épée taught to his students, but neither are they conventional theatrical gestures. They are instead a hybrid: a theatrical gesture rendered so as to appear to replicate the manual language of the deaf as well as a transformation of de l’Épée’s manual language for the deaf into gestures that would work on a large stage” (McDonagh).  Holcroft’s version seems to have the boy – played by Miss De Camp in the original – doing something more akin to pantomime – as we see here, “Theodore makes signs with the utmost rapidity” but it is hard to know exactly how that would have worked in the production (p.9).

On page 33 of the Holcroft version, Theodore writes the answer to a question,

“In your opinion, who is the greatest genius that France has ever produced ?”.

Madame F. “Ay – what does he say to that?”

Marianne reads, “Science would decide for D’Alembert, and Nature say, Buffon; Wit and Taste present Voltaire; and sentiment pleads for Rousseau; but Genius and Humanity cry out for De l’Epee; and him I call the best and greatest of human creatures.” (Marianne drops the paper and retires to the chair in tears. Theodore throws himself into De l’Epee’s arms. M. Franval and Franval look at each other in astonishment.

Mrs Kemble, pictured here, was the first Julio/Theodore in the English production.

Holcroft, Thomas, Deaf and dumb: or, The orphan protected: : an historical drama in five acts. Performed by Their Majesties servants of the Theatre Royal, in Drury-Lane. Taken from the French of M. Bouilly; and adapted to the English stage. (1819)

McDonagh, Patrick THE MUTE’S VOICE: THE DRAMATIC TRANSFORMATIONS OF THE MUTE AND DEAF-MUTE IN EARLY-NINETEENTH-CENTURY FRANCE.  Criticism; Detroit Vol. 55, Iss. 4,  (Fall 2013): 655-675

 

Guichard Duvernay, pioneer of Otology (1648-1730)

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 14 September 2018

Guichard Joseph Du Verney (5 August 1648 – 10 September 1730) was a pioneer of otology.  He was born in Feurs, in the south of France, and studied at Avignon as a doctor befoire moving to Paris.  He became Court Anatomist – a post created for him (Hawkins, p.9).  As Hawkins says, “Duverney’s treatise is remarkable not only for its anatomical presentations, but also for its author’s thoughts on the physiology and pathology of the ear” (ibid).  Neil Weir and Albert Mudry say that it was also significant that it was published in French rather than Latin.  He was also, they continue, the first to show that the boney external meatus developed from the tympanic ring; that the Eusachian tube was a channel wherby the air in the tympanum was renewed; he explained bone conduction; he was the first to use the term boney labyrinth for the whole inner ear.  He produced his brilliant drawings without the aid of a microscope (Weir & Mudry, 2013 p.38-9).

That his book was translated to English over fifty years after his death, says a lot about how valuable it was considered.  We have copies of both the original, and the translation.

Le Vestibule est une cavité presque ronde, creusée dans I’os pierreux et d’environ une ligne et demie de diamètre. II est scitué derrière la fenestre ovale, et revestu par dedans d’une membrane parsemée de plusieurs vaisseaux : on y remarque neuf ouvertures dont il y en a une de laquelle il a déja esté parlé, sçavoir la fenestre ovale qui donne entrée de la quaisse du tambour dans le vestibule ; les huit autres lont dans la cavité de ce vestibule. La première mene dans la rampe superieure du limaçon ; il y en a’cinq qui donnent entrée dans les trois canaux demi-circulaires ; et les deux dernieres laissent passer deux branches de la portion molle du nerf auditif.

Je donneray des noms aux conduits demi – circulaires pour les distinguer, et je les nommeray par rapport à leur situation.  J’appelle le premier Supérieur parce; qu’il embrasse la partie superieure de la voute du vestibule ; le sécond Inferieur, parce qu’il entoure partie inferieure ; et le troisième qui est plus en dehors et sîtué entre les deux autres seranommé le Mitoyen. (1683, p.32-3)

The Vestibulum is a Cavity almost round, formed out of the Os Petrosum, and about a Line and a half in diameter. It is situated behind the Fenestre Ovalis, and covered on the Inside by a Membrane, furnished with a great many Vessels.  There are nine Foramina in it, of which one has been already described, viz. the Fenestre Ovalis, which forms an Entrance from the Tympanum into the Vestibulum; the other eight are in the Cavity of the Vestibulum: The first leading into the upper Range or Scala of the Coclea; there are five more which afford Entrance to the three Semi-circular Canals; and the two last through which two Branches of the Portio Mollis of the Auditory nerve pass.

I shall give Names to the  three Canales Semicirculres to distinguish them, and I shall take those Names from their situation: The first  I call the Superior, because it takes up the upper Part of the Arch of the Vestibulum; the second Inferior, because it surrounds lower Part; and the third, which is placed more towards the Outside, and is situated betwixt the other two, Medius. (1737, p.32)

Hawkins says that Du Verney “was a true forerunner of Helmholtz, putting forward a resonance theory before its time” (Hawkins, p.9).  It seems that he also dissected an elephant, in front of King Louis XIV in 1681.  The book is full of beautiful plates, some reproduced here.  I showed it to a UCLH otologist, and he was amazed by their quality.  Unfortunately no portrait of him appears to survive.

Du Verney, Traité de l’organe de l’ouie, contenant la structure, les usages & les maladies de toutes les parties de l’oreille. A Paris, : chez Estienne Michallet, ruë S. Jacques à l’image S. Paul. 1683

Traité de l’organe de l’ouie… on Google Books

Du Verney, A treatise of the organ of hearing: : containing the structure, the uses, and the diseases of all the parts of the ear./ Translated from the French of the late Monsieur Du Verney, of the Royal Academy of Sciences, Counsellor Physician in Ordinary to the late King of France, and Professor of Anatomy and Surgery in the Royal Physick-Garden at Paris. Translated by John Marshall. 1737

Desai, Sapan S & Dua, Anahita, History of Research in the Vestibular System: A 400-Year-Old Story.  Anatomy &  Physiology 2014, 4:2 DOI: 10.4172/2161-0940.1000138

Hawkins, Joseph E., Auditory Physiological History: A Surface View. Chapter 1, p.1-28, in  Santos-Sacchi, Joseph R., Physiology of the Ear. 2001

Weir, N. and Mudry, A., Otorhinolaryngology: an illustrated history, 2013

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph-Guichard_Du_Verney

A Chronological Survey of Measures Affecting the Deaf Person Especially in Great Britain to the early 1960s

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 24 August 2018

Finding some more older documents that I thought might be of interest, and lacking time for anything more original, we supply the following ‘chronology’ of Deaf history.  It may be that there are better versions of this elsewhere, and there are no sources given in the form of articles or books, but this might be a starting point for research.  For example, I have no idea what the evidence is for the first statement.  If I had to guess I would say this dates from the early 60s, perhaps 1964.  I hope to revisit this page to update its ‘note’ style and add some supporting information where possible, though I will leave it where it ends in the 60s.

1. First legal bases for education of deaf person during Jewish and Roman Times.

2. Beginnings of modern education in Spain; Ponce de Leon (1520-1584), Bonet and his book in 1620.

3. Development of two basic and apparently conflicting educational philosophies for deaf children established in Europe; de l’Epee (1712-1789) with sign language, and Heinicke (1729-1790) with oral education, in Paris and Leipzig respectively.

4. British work: Bulwer and his books “Chirologia” (1644) & “Philocophus” (1648) Wallis and Holder as first teachers, but not without considerable acrimony between them.  Braidwood and his family with their school, first in Edinburgh, then in London at Hackney, being the first organised program set up for deaf children. First public deaf “asylum” at Bermondsey by Watson, nephew of Braidwood (1792).

5. Growth of “asylums”: acceptance of fee paying of “parlour” pupils, proper medical attention, free meals, children admitted as early as 7 or 8 years onwards, but many at 13 or more, charitable background.

6. Scott in 1844 wrote “The deaf and dumb, their position in society, and their principles of their education considered.” Great emphasis on early parental training.

7. Donaldson’s Hospital opened in Edinburgh, 1850, with equal intake of hearing and deaf pupils of both sexes.

8. First nursery school in world for deaf  infants set up in Great Britain at Manchester 1860.  Ceased in 1884 because of need to provide additional space for education of older deaf children.

9. Development of missions for deaf adults. Glasgow 1827, Edinburgh 1835, Manchester 1850, others mostly in north of England in industrial areas.  In 1840 deaf adults in London set up a deaf church which in time became the R.A.A.D.D. (Rooyal Association in Aid of the Deaf and Dumb).  A free interchange of teachers and missioners became possible because of the frequent use of manual modes of communication in schools, thus first principal of Manchester nursery school formerly was Superintendent of Manchester Mission.  Missions at Derby and Preston responsible for formation of schools there in 1875’s and 1890’s respectively.

10. Milan Congress of 1880 – the 2nd International Conference of Teachers of the Deaf where very important resolutions affecting the “oral” education of deaf children were passed.

11. The Royal Commission of 1886-89 on the Blind, the Deaf, etc.

12. Development of “oral” v. “manual” controversy, first among teachers.  It spread to missioners when the original hopes of “oral” supporters were not always successful.  The introduction of examination requirements by the Association for the Oral Instruction of the Deaf & Dumb 1872; the Society for Training Teachers of the Deaf and for the diffusion of the German System 1877; the College of Teachers of the Deaf and Dumb 1885.  These diplomas were not recognised by the Board of Education till 1909, and then only after the three bodies came together in 1908 to form the “Joint Examination Board for Teachers of the Deaf” with a single diploma.

13. National Association of Teachers of the Deaf formed in 1895 as professional body and started Teacher of the Deaf in 1902 as its organ. The National College of Teachers of the Deaf formed in 1918 by merging the National Association of Teachers of the Deaf into the College of Teachers of the Deaf.  The Scottish Department of Education has however never recognised the College’s Diploma.

14. Formation of British Deaf and Dumb Association in 1890 to protest against the absence of deaf witnesses at Royal Commission.  It sent a petition to the King in 1902 with 2,671 signatures asking for the combined system of education.

15. Legislation: First educational work was financed by Poor Laws – money raised from local rates, from 1834 onwards.  Compulsory education was enforcable for hearing children in 1876.  Compulsory education for deaf children in Scotland with “Education of Blind and Deaf Mute Children (Scotland) Act” 1890, and in England with the “Elementary Education (Blind and Deaf Children) Act” 1893.  In the English Act, a deaf child was educated from its 7th to 16th birthday while a hearing child was educated from its 5th to 10th birthday (extended to 12 in 1900, and to 14 in 1921). Age for deaf child lowered to 5th birthday in 1937.  Permissive to educate as from 2nd birthday from 1920 onwards, and provision made for higher education in the 1902 Act but these clauses very seldom used.

16. Preparation for life in the community: The N.I.D. undertook inquiry for on the “Industrial conditions of the deaf and dumb.”  There were unsatisfactory findings despite the establishment of trade schools in Manchester in 1905 for boys and in 1923 for girls.  Eichholz prepared “A Study of the Deaf 1930-32.”  Clark and Crowden for the N.I D. and Department of Industrial Psychology prepared a survey on “Employment for the deaf in the United Kingdom” in 1939.  The results of all these surveys were considered very disturbing.

17. Donaldson’s Hospital ceased unusual Neducation scheme in 1938. From 1850 to 1938, a total of 3,185 children of whom 1,403 deaf, were educated there.

18. Awareness of the value of residual hearing (when present): efforts by physicians in the 18th C. to cure deafness.  Work of surgeons in the 19th C. to treat deafness but necessarily restricted to outer and middle ears. Work of Itard in Paris, and Urbanschitsch in Vienna who in early 1890’s developed methodical hearing exercises.  The collaboration of medical man and headmaster at Glasgow Institution in 1890 where Dr. Kerr Love found less than 10% pupils totally deaf, and over 25% heard loud speech. Establishment of partially deaf  classes from 1908 onwards.  The development of electrical and radio engineering in early 20th C. but application restricted to use in classroom only (cumbersome and inefficient equipment).

19. Medical Research Council set up in 1926 to supervise research On physiology of hearing. In addition to other work, M.R.C. encouraged the team work of the EwinEs and Littler in Department of Education of Deaf in Manchester (founded 1920).  The M.R.C. opened a clinic there in 1934 for the “study and relief of deafness.”  By 1935 use of group hearing aids was recommended for children in schools for deaf.

20. Strained relations between teachers and doctors on educational policies for children with defective hearing, especially between 1910 and 1925.

21. Committee of Inquiry into problems of “medical, educational and social aspects of… children suffering from defects not amounting to total deafness” Report published in 1938 and contained educational classification with Grades I, IIa, IIb, and III which are still used by certain authorities although essentially outdated.

22. Outbreak of hostilities in 1939 between various countries caused the cessation of work on deaf problems, apart from preliminary research in readiness for development of the MEDRESCO hearing aid for the new National Health Service (1948).

23. Considerable postwar legislative changes affecting the deaf person. See Table A.

24. Various important postwar reports on educational, psychological and social aspects of deaf person in United Kingdom. See Table B.

25. Great multiplicity of organisations involved specifically with the deaf person in Great Britain. See Table C.

26. Development of research units on problems of deafness:

(a) The Otological Research Unit, National Hospital for Nervous Diseases, London under Dr. Hallpike,

(b) The Wernher Research Unit on Deafness, King’s College Hospital Medical School London under Dr. T.S. Littler which ceased in 1965,

(c) Audiology Unit, Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital, London under the late Miss Edith Whetnall F.R.C.S.

(d) The Audiology Unit, Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading under Dr. K.P. Murphy.

In addition, there was research at the Department of Audiology and Education of the Deaf in Manchester.

27. Development of new categories of workers with deaf people.  In addition to traditional three categories of doctors, teachers and welfare workers, now there were psychologists, medical officers, audiology technicians, speech therapists, health visitors and school supervisors with special courses on deafness for each of them.

28. Development of electrical apparatus for hearing and speech, either as individual or group hearing aids or as visual aids.  Scanty British literature on education of deaf children, particularly on development of language.  A new training centre for teachers of deaf children opened in London in 1965.

29. Modification of educational philosophies in Great Britain.  Before the Second War, the emphasis was on “oral” techniques with a strong minority for “manual” techniques and a gradual realisation of value of “aural”techniques.  After the Second War there was a shift of emphasis from “oral techniques” to “aural techniques” in most schools or units.  A minority group now asked for “combined” rather than “manual” techniques, and becoming more vocal.  The B.D.D.A. sent a petition in 1954 with 5,000 signatures for the “combined” techniques to the Ministry of Education.  Increasing awareness of special problems of the small group of very deaf children, especially if with additional handicaps.  Weaknesses in present “oral” and “aural” techniques was more openly admitted.

30. Persisting attitudes towards the deaf person. Use of the term “deaf and dumb.”  The term “dumb” is synonymous with “not so quick on uptake” or mental deficiency in the U.S.A. and that usage was brought over to Great Britain.  Defective speech and limited vocabulary aggravated the situation.  For the term “hard of hearing,” no precise definition is possible. The introduction of the terms “Deaf” and “Partially Hearing” categories of deaf child, but the prevalent tendency for members of the public still to call them “deaf and dumb.”  See Table D

31. Present trends to watch: Units attached to ordinary schools, decline in residential schools, absence of vocational training or guidance in schools, greater emphasis on electrical amplifying apparatus for use at school or at home, ambiguity in educational and social status of “Partially hearing” pupil in community, the continued lack of closer co-operation between organisations or workers with or for the deaf person.

TABLE A
POSTWAR LEGISLATION WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO THE DEAF PERSON

(a) Disabled Persons (Employment) Acts, 1944 & 1958.

(b) Education Act, 1944.

(c) National Health Service Act, 1946.

(d) National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Act, 1946.

(e) Employment and Training Act, 1948.

(f) National Assistance Act, 1948.

TABLE B
SELECT LIST OF PUDLICATIONS WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO THE EDUCATIONAL, PSYCHOLOGICAL OR SOCIAL ASPECTS OF THE DEAF PERSON.

(a) 1945 Voluntary Organisations for the welfare of the deaf (IN Voluntary social services (their place in the modern state) Edited by Bourdillon, Methuen, London, 1945).  This chapter written by J.D. Evans.

(b) 1950 Pupils who are defective in hearing, HMSO, Edinburgh.

(c) 1954 The training and supply of teachers of handicapped pupils, HMSO, London

(d) 1956 The Piercy Report, HMSO, London.

(e) 1957 Care of the deaf, by J.B. Perry Robinson for the Deaf Children’s Society, London.

(f) 1958 The deaf school leaver in Northern England, by R.R. Drewry, mimeographed, Nuffield Foundation.

(g) 1959 The Younghusband Report, HMSO, London.

(h) 1960 Certain social and psychological difficulties facing the deaf person in the English community, by Pierre Gorman, Ph.D. Thesis Cambridge University.  1963 A report on a survey of deaf children who have been transferred from special schools or units to ordinary schools, HMSO, London. Also Annual Reports of the Department of Education and Ministry of Health. The “Health of the School Child” by the Chief Medical Officer of the Department of Education contains much valuable information.

TABLE C
ORGANISATIONS CONCERNED WITH THE DEAF PERSON (together with date of formation of original body)

(a) 1880 British Deaf and Dumb Association (now British Deaf Association)

(b) Early Council of Church Missioners to the Deaf and Dumb. 1900s

(c) 1911 National Institute for the Deaf (now Action on Hearing Loss)

(d) 1917 National College of Teachers of the Deaf.

(e) 1922 Central Advisory Council for the Spiritual Care of the Deaf and Dumb.

(f) 1928 Deaf Welfare Examination Board.

(g) 1943 British Association of Otolaryngologists.

(h) 1944 National Deaf Children’s Society.

(i) 1947 British Association for the Hard of Hearing.

(j) 1949 Association of Non Maintained Schools for the Deaf.

(k) 1950 Society of Audiology Technicians.

(l) 1952 National Council of Missioners and Welfare Officers to the Deaf.

(m) 1954 Association for Experiment in Deaf Education.

(n) 1958 Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists.

(o) 1959 Society of Teachers of the Deaf.

(p) 1959 Commonwealth Society for the Deaf.

TABLE D
CATEGORIES OF CHILDREN WITH DEFECTIVE HEARING CONSIDERED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AS REQUIRING SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL TREATMENT.

“DEAF PUPILS” are defined as “pupils who have no hearing or whose hearing is so defective that they require education by methods used for deaf pupils without naturally acquired speech or language.” (Definition unchanged since 1945).

“PARTIALLY DEAF PUPILS” were defined in 1945 as “pupils whose hearing is so defective that they require for their education special arrangements or facilities but not all the educational methods used for deaf pupils”. In 1953, this definition was changed to “pupils who have some naturally acquired speech and language, but whose hearing is so defective that they require for their education special arrangements or facilities although not necessarily all the educational methods used for deaf pupils”. In 1962, the term “partially deaf pupils” was changed to “partially hearing pupils” without any change in the definition itself.

British Deaf Schools established before 1850

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 22 August 2018

We recently came across a list of DEAF SCHOOLS IN THE UK IN EXISTENCE BEFORE 1850, and we thought it might be of sufficient interest to share on Twitter and here in the blog.

1. Aberdeen School for the Deaf, Linksfield Road, Aberdeen AB2 2IE (Established 1819).

The annual reports that the library holds do not contain lists of pupils.

2. Donaldson’s School for the Deaf, West Coates, Edinburgh EH12 5JI (Established 1810).

Some annual reports have lists of pupils but not until after the year 1853.

3. Glasgow Society for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb (Defunct) (Established 1819).

Some annual reports for the 1840’s contain specimens of pupils’ essays but give no lists of pupils.

4. Liverpool School for the Deaf, (Defunct) (Established 1825).

The only report the library has which contains lists of pupils is for the year 1843.

5. Northern Counties School for the Deaf, Great North Road, Newcastle-upon-Tyne NE2 39B (Established 1839?).

Annual reports include lists of Pupils from 1839-1848.

6. Ovingdean Hall School for Partially Hearing Children (Defunct) (Established 1840).

Some annual reports contain lists of pupils. Closed. 2010

7. Paisley Society for the Education of Deaf & Dumb Children, (Defunct)

The library has no reports for the relevant period.

8. Ashgrove School for Deaf Children, Sully Road, Penarth CF6 2TW (Established 1347).

The annual reports do not contain lists of pupils for the relevant period.

9. Royal School for Deaf Children, Edgbaston, Birmingham (Defunct) (Established 1812).

The annual reports contain lists of pupils for the years 1836-1847, 1850-1851. The school closed around 1985.

10. Royal School for the Deaf (Manchester) Stanley Road, Cheadle Hulme SK8 6R17 (Established 1823).

The annual reports have lists of pupils but we only have copies for 1850 and 1851.

11. Royal School for Deaf Children, Victoria Road, Margate CT9 1NB (Defunct) (Established 1792).

Most pupil related records are in the Kent County Archives, Maidstone.  The library has no reports for the relevant period.  Closed 2015.

12. Royal School for the Deaf, 50 Topsham Road, Exeter EX2 4NF (Established 1827).

The library has no reports for the relevant period.

13. Mount School for the Deaf, Denkhull, Stoke-on-Trent (Defunct) (Established 1816).

The library has no annual reports for this school.

14. Yorkshire Residential School for the Deaf, Leger Way, Doncaster DN2 6AT.

The annual reports have lists of pupils for the years 1835-1850.

15. Dundee School for the Deaf, 15A Dudhone Terrace, Dundee DD3 6HJ (Established 1846).

The library has no reports for the relevant period.

16. Bristol District Institution for the Deaf & Dumb, Tyndalls Park, Bristol (Defunct?) (Established 1841).

The library has no annual reports for this school.

N.B. Royal School for the Deaf, Ashbourne Road, Derby. This School was not established until the 1870’s.

Harry Wellington White, oralist “When I went to Manchester… the tone of the institution was undoubtedly sign…. it was like a fever lurking about”

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 17 August 2018

Harry Wellington White was born in October, 1854, son of Wellington White, a ‘quartermaster of militia,’ born in Tipperary, and his wife Anne, from Kildare. The oldest sister was born Van Diemen’s Land, then a brother was born in Dover, a second brother was born in Lancashire, and his younger brother in Hampshire, so presumably the father was being sent around the empire for his work.

Harry White began working as a clerk, presumably when he left school. He was employed as a clerk in the offices of the Great Western , at General Manager’s office at Paddington in November, 1876. He remained an employee there until February, 1879, when he resigned.  He would then be aged a little over 24, and we might suppose that it was then, or shortly after, that he enrolled as a trainee teacher of the deaf at the Ealing ‘Society for Training Teachers of the Deaf and for the Diffusion of the German System.’  He took a two and a half year course there, and qualified in 1881 in the same cohort as Mary Smart, and was it seems the only male teacher to qualify there, which seems extraordinary.  I seem to recall reading somewhere that there were far fewer me interested in becoming teachers in the latter years of the 19th century.  Previously I think male teachers had often gone into teaching as pupils who became teachers, then learnt on the job in deaf schools, but this would require research to confirm.

Having qualified, he was appointed Vice-Principal under Arthur Kinsey.  He was sent out from Ealing as an acolyte, and Benjamin St. John Ackers who lead the society as Honorary Secretary, wrote in the annual report for 1884 (p.10) –

Somewhat earlier in the year your Honorary Secretary attended the Annual Meeting of the Manchester Schools for the Deaf and Dumb, as a subscriber to that Institution, where it will be remembered Mr. H. W. White, our late Vice-Principal, was engaged in the work of training the teachers employed there, to carry on the German System.  Mr. White had represented to your Society that certain changes in the arrangements of the Manchester Institution were absolutely necessary for the ultimate success of the work.  Your Honorary Secretary’s attendance, upon the occasion referred to, was to urge the adoption of these proposed changes upon the Manchester Committee, and also the further engagement of Mr. White for another twelve months ; this latter proposition, we are sorry to learn, has, from want of funds, not been accepted.  The period of Mr. White’s engagement with your Society having expired, we were in strong hopes of seeing him at the head of some British Institution, carrying on successfully the work for which he has been trained.  About this time the Head Mastership of the West of England Institution, at Exeter, fell vacant, and Mr. White was at once advised to apply for the post, but he did not feel at liberty to do so.  Shortly afterwards a similar vacancy occurred at the Liverpool Institution ; again he was urged to apply.  Owing, possibly, to delay in forwarding his application, he was not successful in obtaining the appointment.  Upon the termination of the Society’s agreement with Mr. White an agreement was executed with Mr. Alfred Batchelor to train at the College, and to give his services to the Society in such ways as might be required for their work.

The Manchester Schools Sixtieth Annual Report for 1884 (we have not got the 1883 Report) tells us that “the arrangement referred to in the last Annual Report as having been made with Mr. White, Vice-Principal of the Ealing College, is being brought to a satisfactory termination ; and it is gratifying to your Committee to find that the Oral Classes, as organised by their Head Master, [W.S. Bessant] are working so nearly upon the lines laid down by Mr. White in his lectures, that very little alteration in them has been rendered necessary. (Annual Report, 1884, p.6).

It seems Ackers was, however, rather disappointed with White.  He wanted to expand the oralist approach by getting his man into a big school.  Perhaps White felt that running a private school would be more rewarding.  In October, 1884, White published a booklet with W.H. Allen, publishers, Speech for the Dumb. The Education of the Deaf and Dumb on the “Pure Oral” System.  He laid out the oralist approach, and concluded with an appendix on ‘Hints for the management of a deaf child.’  This included ‘Do not allow him to shuffle his feet when walking.’  Interestingly, one of our regular visitors tells me that she was told the same thing at school – perhaps this was part of the long legacy of the Ealing College?  In the introduction to that essay, when he was living at 3, Blenheim Terrace, Old Trafford, Manchester, he says, (p.v) that “I am desirous of opening a small private and select school for deaf children of the higher classes, at Bowden, Cheshire.”  Of course he adds, needlessly, “signs and the manual alphabet being rigidly excluded.”

I am not sure if that school got going, as by July 1885 he was offering lip reading lessons and his address was 4 Osman Road, West Kensington Park.  Not long after, we find numerous advertisements for White’s private deaf school, at 115 Holland Road, Kensington, in The Times and London Evening Standard (see British Newspaper Archive), as well as mentions in The Lancet (by February 1886).  He was, that same year one of the witnesses for The Royal Commission on the Blind, the Deaf and the Dumb (1889).  (We have the full text, and electronic access through Parliamentary Papers database.)  He was asked about his time at Manchester on Thursday the 18th of March, 1886.  You may recall that Ackers was on the commission, so I do not think it would be unfair to say that there was already an oralist bias –

7969. When you first went there was that the commencement of the change ? — No, they had endeavored to introduce the system, and I suppose it would be
maintained that they had introduced it. Of course one is very delicate upon a matter of that kind; there are certain susceptibilities to consider; I think they claimed that they introduced the system; but I went there to assist them to carry it on to probably a higher pitch, and farther extent.

7970. Do you claim that you made great progress is the teaching of the teachers there ? — Undoubtedly.

7971. And also the pupils themselves ? —  Certainly.  Of course my individual efforts could not have shown very great results in the children except through the teachers that I trained.  I could not be expected to teach 160 children, nor would my results be very much in twelve months; but I think that, taking class and class with the teacher that was attached to it, the whole tone of the training showed itself clearly in the education of the children.

Further on he says (paragraph 8007),

When I went to Manchester, of course the tone of the institution was undoubtedly sign.  From the point of view of a pure oral teacher it was like a fever lurking about (that is a rather strong way of putting it), and it wanted removing before you could expect to do anything with the children on the opposite system.

8008. You mean tho fever of the sign system ? — From our point of view, though that is rather a strong way of putting it; but it certainly was very infections. The new children and the children taught on the oral system were very prone to fall into the ways of those who had a system of signs around them.  The consequence was that I saw it rapidly running through the whole institution.  In six weeks or two months the children who had newly entered were as full of signs as thosewho had been there for six years, though probably not knowing so many signs.  The only hope of introducing the pure oral system would have been the removal of the whole of those sign children, and that is what I advocated.  I wrote a letter to tho committee and advocated the taking of a new house somewhere in the neighbourhood for the purpose; but they said that they could not possibly do it, that the expense was more than they could meet, and that things would have to go on as they were going on.

[…]

8059. Do you think that the time will ever come when the sign and manual systems will disappear altogether ?  — I see no reason why they should not.

8060. Do you think there is every reason why they should ?—At present there are very few reasons why they should.  If the Government take the matter up and grant assistance to the work, I see every reason why the sign system should be stamped out, and the oral system entirely established in its place.

In both the 1861 and 1871 census records, Harry White was living at home with his parents in 7 Hackney Terrace, Cassland Road. He moved with them at some point after that, to 3 Poplar Grove, Hammersmith.  In January 1891 he married Emma Parrell, at St Mary Magdalene, Peckham, and at that time he was described as a teacher on his marriage certifiate, but in the 1891 census a ‘Teacher of the Deaf’.  In both the 1901 and the 1911 censuses, they were recorded as living in 13 Sinclair Gardens, Hammersmith.

After some years he seems to have turned away from being purely a teacher of the deaf, though he may well have still had deaf pupils, for he describes himself as ‘Speech Specialist’ in both 1901 and 1911 census returns.  He wrote a few other short items, one we have, The Mechanism of Speech (1897), and a book we do not have, Hearing by Sight (18-?) which is held in Aberdeen University, possibly a unique copy.

I cannot say anything of his later carreer, but that he had three children, one son who attended Cambridge university (Harry Coxwell White), and that he died in 1940.

The National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Collection: Great Western Railway Company: Staff Records; Class: RAIL264; Piece: 6

1871 Census – Class: RG10; Piece: 332; Folio: 73; Page: 58; GSU roll: 818902

1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 60; Folio: 19; Page: 32; GSU roll: 1341013

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 39; Folio: 182; Page: 34

1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 50; Folio: 21; Page: 33

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 255

The Times (London, England), Wednesday, Oct 21, 1885; pg. 2; Issue 31583.

The Standard (London, England), Tuesday, July 14, 1885; pg. 8; Issue 19032

The World of Sound – Sir William Bragg’s Royal Institution Lectures, 1919

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 25 July 2018

Sir William Henry Bragg (1862–1942) was a Cumbrian physicist, who was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1915 along with his son Lawrence for their discovery of the new science of x-ray crystallography, which eventually led to Rosamund Franklin’s photographs of DNA.  He was appointed a UCL Quain Professor of Physics in 1915, and around the same time was appointed to the Board of Invention and Research.  The Admiralty eventually appointed Bragg to lead research at Aberdour into the use of hydrophones for detecting submarines.  In 1919 the Royal Institution invited him to give their annual Christmas Lectures.  He gave six lectures, published in 1920 as The World of Sound

  • What is Sound?
  • Sound in Music
  • Sounds in the Town
  • Sounds of the Country
  • Sounds of the Sea
  • Sounds in War

All around us are material objects of many kinds, and it is quite difficult to move without shaking some of them more or less.  If we walk about on the floor, it quivers a little under the fall of our feet; if we put down a cup on the table, we cannot avoid giving a small vibration to the table and the cup.  If an animal walks in the forest, it must often shake the leaves or the twigs or the grass, and unless it walks softly with padded feet it shakes the ground.  The motions may be very minute, far too small to see, but they are there nevertheless. (p.1)

In his first lecture, he repeated experiments demonstrated by John Tyndall in the RI ‘half a century ago’ (presumably 1865 or 1873).  Bragg said most of Tyndall’s apparatus was still there.  He demonstrated how sound could travel from a musical box in the basement up a long rod, and that when a tea tray was placed on the top of the rod, it transmitted the sound to everyone in the room ((p.4-6).

To illustrate how sound waves spread out, he used a ‘ripple tank’ which held a shallow trough about a yard square, witha plate-glass bottom, and an arc lamp under that.  Light passed through the water to an angled mirror, that then reflected onto the walls (p.13-14).

In ‘Sounds of the Town,’ he demonstrated how Lord Rayleigh had explained and demonstrated how the Whispering Gallery in St. Paul’s Cathedral works.  The sound is ‘continuously reflected by the wall without ever getting too far away from it,’ and then he repeated Rayleigh’s experiment (p.84-6).

In ‘Sounds of the Country,’ he describes how Charles Gahan told him that he was able to get a death-watch beetle to respond when he tapped with a pencil.  The beetle raps its head on wood to signal to other beetles.  He also explains the twisting and fluttering of a leaf – the poplar being particularly prone to this fluttering due to the leaf stemallowing the leaf to twist, and sometimes the natural period of vibration of a leaf means it flutters more than its neighbours (p.119).  In ‘Sounds of the Sea’ we learn how fish have no cochlea but are able to respond to minute changes in pressure on pits in the skin of the head (p.136-7).

The last chapter describes the use of ‘Sound in War.’  Bragg had lost a son Robert, at Gallipoli.  He discusses the use of the hydrophone, and the use of sound-ranging to find enemy guns or to locate mining operations.