Brunswick House Hostel, “for Deaf and Dumb Girls who have no homes and are lonely in their affliction”

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 31 October 2014

In 1919 the Brunswick House Hostel for Deaf and Dumb Girls was founded at 19, Beaulieu Villas, Manor Gate, Finsbury park in North London.  It seems that a moving spirit behind the foundation was Mrs Herbert Jones, who was I believe the wife of the Rev. Vernon Jones, Chaplain to the Deaf in North London.  It aimed “to provide a safe and comfortable home for deaf and dumb girls who are alone in the world, or whose relations are unable, or unwilling, to look after them.” (Annual Report 1929, p.1)

In August 1930 they were given six weeks notice to leave Beaulieu Villas as they were required by “the Electric Railway Company, in connection with the new Tube Railway Station  that will be built at Manor Gate, Finsbury Park” (Annual Report, 1930 p.3), but they were fortunate to find a house opposite the St. John of Beverley centre in Green Lanes (see image below).  The house is still there.

Barratt 001 Here is one of the worthy patronesses, Lady Barrett, Chairman of the hostel, who was “Called Home” in 1930.  Other founding members  were Lady Maxwell Lyte, Lady Baddeley (wife of a Lord Mayor of London), Mrs. Edmondson, Mrs. Firminger, Mrs. H.R. Oxley (I am not clear if this was a relative of Selwyn Oxley), Mrs. A. J. Wilson (see earlier entries for her husband), Mrs. Wise, Mrs. Hankey and Mrs. Woods.

I do not wish to belittle the efforts of these people, but for some of them at least it was clearly one of those cases when those with wealth found charitable work that sat comfortably with their weltanschauung.

When the home closed we do not know, but I suspect that the war may have meant they were evacuated, and the improved social welfare of the post-war years saw many changes to these small charities, with closures or state institutions taking over.

Finsbury Hostel 001Annual Reports, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1933, 1938

A 1933 Letter from the League of Nations: Ludwik Rajchman, Medical Director

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 17 October 2014

In a half-filled folio sized scrap book of Selwyn Oxley’s, various letters and odd documents were gathered by him or his wife Kate, from when he first became involved as a ‘missioner to the deaf’ in 1914, through to the 1930s.  Together with a small number of short letters from Dr. Eicholz (who we hope to cover in a future item), there is this letter which appears below.  The League of Nations was conducting an enquiry into Deafness, and Selwyn Oxley obviously wrote to say that he was willing to be of assistance, presumably with information and contacts.  The content of the letter is not particularly interesting, but the author is.

Ludwik Rajchman letter
Ludwik Rajchman (1881-1965) was from another of those remarkable families who produced a number of brilliant people, doctors, engineers and mathematicians.  He was born in Poland, son of the musician Aleksander Rajchman, and became a bacteriologist.  When aged only fourteen he was in trouble for distributing ‘subversive’ literature – educational brochures in Polish, which was suppressed by the Russian rulers (Duchene, 1999).  When he was caught at a banned socialist meeting in 1906, Rajchman was exiled.  After working in Paris at the Institut Pasteur, he became head of the Royal Institute of Public Health in London in 1911, though at the time he spoke no English.  The 1911 census shows him as Ludwig Witold Rajchman*, and he signs his name as such, born in Russian Poland, having been married to Mary Clotilde for six years, with two daughters, Irene Mary born in France in 1909, and Marte Alexandra, eleven months old, born in Austrian Poland.  His computer scientist son Jan Rajchman was born in London later in 1911, so the children came in quick succession.  In 1918 he returned to newly liberated Poland and helped set up the National Institute for Public Health, being so successful that he was asked to become head of the new League of Nations Medical Directorate in 1921 (Duchene, 1999).

The health section persuaded national administrators to co-ordinate statistics, standards, training, research, nutrition and infant care, all of them new fields, especially for international involvement. It made a much bigger impact than any other operational arm of the League and so was dogged by opposition of all kinds, from hostile nations, jealous institutes and conservative officials. (ibid)

After the Second  World War he was for political reasons rejected as a potential head for the WHO, but he went on to help found UNICEF.

Rajchman deserves to be better remembered as one of the great public health workers of the 20th century.

Duchene, Francois, Plotter for progress. Ludwik Rajchman, Medical Statesman by Balitiska, Marta A. (author) -
The Times Literary Supplement (London, England), Friday, February 19, 1999; pg. 28; Issue 5002.  Category: Book Review [accessed 17/10/14]

*Living at 16 Hargreave Villas, Hartswood Road, Stamford Brook Road, London W., with an Austrian Polish servant Tekla Lacheta, Class: RG14; Piece: 200

There is a biography by a grand daughter of his –

Balinska, Marta Aleksandra, For the Good of Humanity: Ludwik Rajchman, Medical Statesman, New York : Central European University Press, 1998
[Held in UCL this in the SSEES Library P.XVIII.3 RAJ BAL]

This book looks potentially interesting –

Borowy, Iris, Coming to Terms with World Health: The League of NationsHealth Organisation, Peter Lang GmbH,  2009



“There are two classes of deaf people” – Charles John Macalister

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 10 October 2014

Charles John Macalister (1860-1943) was the third  son of William Boyd Macalister of Bootle, who was a ship owner.  Charles went into medicine, but chose to study in Edinburgh, before returning to Liverpool.

We are told that he “formed a lifelong attachment to the Royal Southern Hospital, and from 1892 to 1900 was also physician to the Stanley Hospital. He interested himself particularly in children’s diseases and promoted the foundation of the Royal Liverpool Children’s Hospital.” (Lives of the fellows)

He was one of the earliest to recognise the value of ultraviolet therapy.  He also worked for long at the stimulation of healing of wounds and (with Benjamin Moore) at the possibility of anti-neoplastic factors in the embryo and young infant.  He may not have had spectacular success in either of these difficult fields, but undoubtedly his questing mind was a stimulus to his fellow workers. (Lancet Obituary)

He became involved in the Liverpool Institution and the Liverpool Benevolent Society, perhaps originally in his role of (honorary) consulting physician to the school.  He must have been on familiar terms with the great Deaf Liverpudlian, George Healey (1843-1927) Missioner to the Deaf, at the Liverpool Adult Deaf and Dumb Benevolent Society.

What is interesting for us is that from his close association with deaf children in Liverpool, he formulated clear ideas about how they should be best educated.

I have scanned and attached the short article, Deaf Mutes and Their Education, that Macalister published in the Liverpool Medico-Chirurgical Journal in January 1891.  In this article Macalister begins,

In October 1889 I brought before the Medical Institution some points bearing upon the education of deaf mutes, my object then being to show that, for the masses of the deaf, the pure oral system (as recommended by the Royal Commission on the Deaf and Dumb and the Blind, the report of which had just been issued) is not so satisfactory as is the combined method. [p.60]

[...the author reviews the history of deafness and then discusses three main methods of deaf education, signs, oralism and combined...]

In considering the question as to which of these three systems is most suitable as a general means of education for the deaf, we have to take into account that there are two classes of deaf people to deal with, viz., those who are totally deaf and have been so since birth, and those who were once able to hear and speak, or who remain still susceptible to loud sounds.  And, again, we must distinguish very importantly between the rich and the poor, for the means taken to educate the one must be recognised as being sometimes unsuited to the other.  It is not my wish to define which method should be adopted in the case of those that are well-to-do – they can get the advantage of private tuition, and the amount of time spent over their education is not of importance; and I have no doubt that for them, as well as for those who can hear a little, or who were once able to speak, the pure oral system is worthy of adoption, and has met with much success.  [p.70-1]

His view contrasts with that of Patterson in Manchester, who became a late convert to the Oral method of education (see previous blog entry).

Below is the Liverpool School as it appeared a generation before, in 1853.

Liverpool school 001
Obituary, Lancet, 1943 Volume: 242 Issue: 6271 Page: 589- 90

Charles John Macalister [Who Was Who, accessed 10/10/2014]

Lives of the Fellows [accessed 10/10/2014]


‘He was a “father” of the profession’ – Andrew Patterson (1803-83) of Manchester, Teacher of the Deaf

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 3 October 2014

Andrew Patterson was highly regarded in his day as a teacher who had learnt his trade as an assistant to Bingham.  Born in Berwick-upon-Tweed in 1803, he started work in the printing-office of The Berwick Advertiser (Buxton 1885).  On finishing his apprenticeship he moved to London, where for a time he worked alongside Douglas Jerrold, then himself an apprentice.  He left London for Devon, becoming a school-master, there making the acquaintance of Henry Brothers Bingham, who had himself trained with Thomas Braidwood at Edgbaston before becoming the first headmaster of the Exeter Institute (1826-34).  They were were close in age and must have got on as Bingham invited Patterson to join him when he started work at the Manchester.  The Institute, founded in 1825, was “situated in an obscure street on the banks of the Irwell” (Deaf and Dumb Herald) – Stanley Street.  Then the Institute was moved to a more suitable location in Salford and opened officially in June 1837.

For a short period from 1839-41, Patterson ran the school at Newcastle but returned to Manchester as head when Bingham departed, encouraged to found a private school by wealthy parents who did not like to send their offspring to a charitable institution (Bingham, p.14).

Patterson also introduced Sunday services for deaf adults, under the auspices of The Manchester Adult deaf and dumb Society. He remained at the new Salford home of the Institution for most of the remainder of his life, retiring after he had seen through the introduction of oral education in the school.

In his obituary, Buxton calls him an original teacher and a leader,

He had none of the ambitions of a leader, and none of his self-assertiveness; a more modest man never existed. He did the work which came before him because it was the duty of the day. If it became a precedent and formed an example, that had never been in his mind, and furnished no part of his motive. Its modesty enhanced its value, and this excellence it had in common with the work of others – the “fathers” of our profession, indicated in the words with which this article begins.

In a paper read at the Social Science Congress held at Nottingham in September, 1882, and which was published in the Annals for January, 1883, I joined, in the same sentence, speaking of “the oldest teachers of the deaf in England, France, and Italy,” the names of three men who shortly afterwards, within the space of a few months, disappeared from among the ranks of the living.  They had all been sign teachers; all became strong advocates of the Oral System; all, by example and teaching, most strongly influenced the new developments in their respective countries; each was the patriarch amongst the teachers in his own land, and all were at nearly the same time called to their account. [...] Tommaso Pendola, Léon Vaïsse, Andrew Patterson. ((p.20-21). 

Patterson was also a pioneer in the education of the deaf and blind, after being inspired by the account of Charles Dickens writing about the education of Laura Bridgman.  He found a blind child called Mary Bradley in a workhouse, “being teased by the other children with whom she was, screaming and trying to catch some of the offenders” (Deaf & Dumb Herald, p.50).

Mr. Patterson then applied himself to the task of teaching her the names of objects, and after daily efforts during some weeks, and making various experiments to establish a means of communication without any apparent success, he was almost about to give up the matter in despair, when suddenly her countenance brightened up- the connection between the name of the object flashed upon her mind, and from that time she made considerable progress, and at last was able to converse with others; she also wrote letters to him and his family when they were away during the midsummer vacation.

It is interesting to read how Patterson says (at the Milan Congress, quoted by Buxton p.27) he became an Oral advocate only after visiting Mr. Schöntheil’s school after the previous conference – so it seems his was a Damascene conversion.
PattersonBuxton, David, Quarterly Review of Deaf-Mute Education, 1886, 1, 20-30 (reprinted from American Annals of the Deaf, 1885)

Bingham, Fanshawe, A Memoir of Henry Brothers Bingham (ca. 1929)

Deaf & Dumb Herald, 1876 vol 1 no. 4, 49-51 – photograph

Deaf man from Brentwood circa 1920

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 26 September 2014

This gentleman, whose name we do not know, was a carpenter.  On the left we see him in photographer Mr. Hallet’s garden by his dark room, on the right he is in a uniform – we believe it is that of a fireman but the writing on the reverse is unclear.  All we can say is that he was from Brentwood.  Can anyone identify him?Essex man

“urging that the Library should be transferred to Manchester” – The Arnold Library book loans register (1899-1922)

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 12 September 2014

Among the curious mix or archives and books in the library, we have this interesting register that was used to record loans of books by the Arnold Library (1898-1922).  This was the library of the National Association of Teachers for the deaf (N.A.T.D.).  The nucleus was formed by the collection of the late Rev. Thomas Arnold, with additions from Mr J.Howard, Dr William Stainer and others.  In 1905 the librarian was a Mr J.D. Rowan of the Deaf Schools, Versailles Rd, Anerley, which is in south east London.   It seems to have remained there until 1912 when it was taken over by the National Bureau for the Promoting the General Welfare of the Deaf and housed in their rooms at Holborn.

In 1921 we read in The Teacher of the Deaf that there were arguments in the N.A.T.D. over whether the library should stay there.  “A discussion ensued, Messrs. Craig, Greenslade, and B.P. Jones urging that the Library should be transferred to Manchester, while Miss Croghan, Messrs. Addison, Brown and Ince Jones, spoke in favour of the Committee’s recommendation.”  The decision went against a move at that time, but by April 1922 the idea was back on the agenda, being urged now by A.J. Story.  It was agreed to open negotiations and on September 16th the Library Committee reported that the sale was completed for £350.  The sale seems to have been at the time when the National Bureau was at its weakest, just before it was revived.  I believe some books that were not required by Manchester were retained.

Early borrowers of books include Miss E.F. Boultbee, who borrowed Van Praagh’s Lipreading, Miss Bodily who borrowed Peet’s Language Lessons, Frank Barnes, and A. Farrar (a former pupil of Arnold) who borrowed a variety of historical material including the 1880 Milan Congress report.  Below I chose pages from 100 years ago – click for a larger image and see what J.H. Haine of the Hugh Myddelton School and W.C. Roe of Derby were borrowing in the months at the beginning of the Great War.

Arnold LibraryThe Arnold Library Fund, British Deaf Monthly Vol.7, No.79, May 1898

The Teacher of the Deaf, Vol.19 (various issues with the committee reports), Vol. 20, p.57, 157

National Institute for the Deaf Medical Scrapbook, circa 1935

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 5 September 2014

As a conduit & clearing house for information on all aspects of hearing loss and deafness, the National Institute for the Deaf (N.I.D., now Action on Hearing Loss) was careful to gather information or stories that encompassed these topics in the popular press and in academic journals to which they had access.  This scrapbook from 1935 is illustrative of this.  It contains cuttings from a wide variety of papers and journals on medical aspects of hearing loss and deafness.  As it was the 1920s, when the topic of eugenics was extremely popular, many of the stories touch on that, some in favour and some against.

In one image we read about the huge number of Germans who were being sterilised, in the other we see sterilisation arguments in the British press.

Another story from 28th of march 1935 in the Daily Express, says that the Rotherham Schools Medical Officer, Dr. A.C. Turner

believes that more than 1,000 of the children under his care have varying degrees of deafness – but their class-rooms are too noisy for him to find out!

Recently his department bought a portable audiometer – a delicate instrument used in the testing of hearing – and his assistants have been going from school to school searching in vain for a room quiet enough to use the apparatus.
“Before the audiometer can function accurately we must have a room with perfect quiet,” Dr. Turner told me.

“We cannot find one! Each room we have tested has had so many distracting noises that the recordings are incomplete.

“I am advocating an aural clinic in which the audiometer could be installed in a sound-proof room.”

Perhaps someone in the Rotherham area interested in medical history could find out more about Dr. Turner and see if or when he got his room.

Click onto the images for a larger scale view.

scrapbook 1 scrapbook 2

Roe Memorial House for the Adult Deaf, Derby 1936-?

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 29 August 2014

Roe Memorial House for the Adult Deaf seems to have been founded in 1936/7, at 93 Friar Gate, Derby.  It employed a resident superintendent who was

trained for work amongst the deaf, understanding their needs, and able to deal with them [...] to help in the placement of a boy or girl on leaving school or to seek for work for an unemployed deaf man or woman, and generally to ensure that everything possible is done to enable the deaf to share in the opportunities open to those who can hear.

Roe House is also a Social Centre where the deaf can meet for games and recreation and where Religious Services are presented in a form which can be understood by a deaf congregation.  During the course of the year the Superintendent, who is provided with a car, has travelled some ten thousand miles up and down the County in connection with visiting and placement work.

Dr W.R. Roe (1849 -1920) who founded the Royal Institution for the Deaf in Derby and was headmaster of  the Derby school was the person being commemorated.  The house, now offices, has hardly changed on the outside.  Derby has been said to be the capital of the Deaf in England.*

Roe was also Vice Chairman of the National Association for Teachers of the Deaf 1905.  His son William Carey Roe succeeded him as headmaster.  Roe has left us a number of interesting works including his Peeps into the Deaf World.  In it we have items about former pupils telling us a little about them and how they were successful in life after school, as well at stories about deaf people around the world.  I am not clear when Roe Memorial House closed – if you know please leave a comment.WR Roe

Roe memorial house*Derby is described as “England’s capital city for deaf people” in the Derby Evening Telegraph, Oct 1999

Backing for sign language. Derby Evening Telegraph, 1999, 16 Oct, 14

Roe Memorial House Annual Reports 1938, 1942, 1949, 1954, 1955

Portrait. Teacher of the Deaf, 1913, 11(63), frontispiece.


“Social purity work” – Dunbar Lodge, Maternity and Rescue Home for Deaf and Dumb Girls, 1927-1938?

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 8 August 2014

Dunbar Lodge, 20 Kings Avenue Clapham,the Maternity and Rescue Home for Deaf and Dumb Girls was founded by the Royal Association for the Deaf and Dumb in 1927.  It had its roots in 1924 “the year a Committee was first appointed to deal with the question of making special provision for Deaf and Dumb girls in this branch of Social purity work” (Annual Report 1929-30).  It aimed to rescue and house “Deaf and Dumb unmarried mothers and their babies, and [...] other Deaf and Dumb girls in moral danger” (see various annual reports).  In March 1929 there were eight girls and seven babies.  “The girls stay at least one year and longer if it is thought necessary” (Annual Report 1929-30).  In addition to annual reports we have two minute books that cover the period up to 1938.   They cover all sorts of issues including building work, for example on 18th December 1929 we read that

A letter was read from the Architect giving estimates for various items in his original report. It was decided to authorise Miss Daniels to have the tiles and gutters attended to and the Baby Shelter re-roofed with asbestos but not to proceed with the other items.

We can only hope that mesothelioma was not a consequence in those babies.Dunbar Lodge

Although of the nature of these minutes, covering delicate issues that include illegitimacy and having the names of some of the women concerned might make us consider that early parts of the minutes are closed records, they pretty quickly started to refer to the inmates by number, thus ensuring anonymity.  An early Medical Officer for the home in 1929 was a Dr. Janet McGill.  I am sure it would be possible to find out more about her from a medical directory of the appropriate date.  That same year the home was visited by H.H. Princess Marie Louise who “spoke most feelingly to the guests, assembled in the garden, of the handicap of Deaf and Dumbness, and of the need which the Home was supplying.”  In the 1937/8 report we read that

The Home is financed by payments made for the girls  and their babies by those responsible for sending them to the Home, usually Public Assistance Committees, and by the grant from the L.C.C., these represent, roughly, two thirds of the total cost, leaving the final third, about £350 to be met by subscriptions and donations. The Committee decided last year to raise the charge made for the maintenance of the girls but it is impossible to raise it sufficiently to cover the whole cost and the Committee therefore appeal again for increased supposrt in the for of subscriptions and donations, an additional £250 p.a. is needed.

As we see, it was not a cheap place to keep running.  The 21st January 1938 minutes say there was an accumulated deficit of £1,213!  Without checking the R.A.D.D. annual reports I am not clear when the home closed, but wonder if the war was the final nail?  The building is gone now.

Click onto this page from the minutes where we read the shocking news that nurse Masters had joined the Church of Rome!

Minutes Dunbar Lodge

Annual Reports 1928-38

Minute books 1929-38



A card from Yvonne Pitrois, Deaf Writer (1880-1937)

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 25 July 2014

Yvonne Pitrois was a deaf writer whose name became known in the Anglophone Deaf community in Britain, the USA and Australia through her articles in newspapers such as the British Deaf Times.

Yvonne PitroisAlthough she was born hearing, on 18th of November 1880, at the age of six she became deaf after suffering from sunstroke we are told (Roe), and her sight was also severely affected for many years.*  She was however taught to read and write by her mother, who remained Yvonne’s companion until she died in 1927.  Her works began to appear in periodicals when she was seventeen, and we are told by Roe that she became a member of the Société des Gens de Lettres.  Roe says,

She considers that the deaf of England and the United States are better off than those of France, for in the latter country there are very few who interest themselves in the spiritual and temporal welfare of the deaf as a class.  This specially applies to the adult deaf, and she points to the fact that there is only one Protestant clergyman – M. Vigier, of Paris – a former teacher of the deaf, who is really doing satisfactory mission work among the Protestant deaf.

Her background was Huguenot.

During the Great war she worked hard for the Deaf of France and Belgium uprooted by the war, and was afterwards decorated by the King of Belgium (Hartig, p. 94).  From 1913 to her death in 1937, she published and edited La Petite Silencieuse.  We have a complete set in the library.  The last edition was a ‘special issue’ after her death, with photographs and biographical notes.  It says,

Son ardent patriotisme lui a inspiré des récits qui apportèrent  aux heures sombres de 1914-18 un regain de courage aux soldats dans la tranchées, un peu de baume aux meurtrissures des pauvres mamans, des fiancées deuillées, des veuves solitaires! (La Petite Silencieuse, Noel 1937, p.7)

From the postcard below, we can see that in 1919 Pitrois began to act as an ‘agent’ for Selwyn Oxley, obtaining books and journals for his growing ‘Ephphatha’ Library, which was a forerunner of our collection.

After discussing what she will do in obtaining and sending him, material, she writes,

Thank you very much to take in hands the cause of these poor deaf old people in Brussels. I should be very pleased to see you! but I fear that you will be quite disappointed with me, for I live as an hermit and never mix with anyone – either hearing or deaf, my work take up all my time and it is entirely done by correspondence. My heart was nearly broken when I heard of the passing away of Miss D.S. Wise! **  What a loss for our silent world!
With Kind Regards
Yvonne Pitrois

Click for a larger size.

Pitrois postcard

*Hartig says this happened when she was aged seven (p.78).

** Dorothy Stanton Wise, Deaf Sculptor (we hope to cover her in a future item).

Roe, W.R., Peeps into the Deaf World, London, 1917, p.347-8
Hartig, Rachel M.,  Crossing the divide : representations of deafness in biography, Washington, 2006

La Petite Silencieuse 1913-37