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Archive for the 'Deaf History' Category

I have had for the first time the courage to say, “Monsieur, I am growing deaf” – Marie Bashkirtseff, Artist

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 16 November 2018

Maria Konstantinovna Bashkirtseva or Marie Bashkirtseff (1858-1884), was a Ukrainian Russian born artist and diarist.  She lead a fascinating if brief life, and kept a regular diary from the age of twelve, where she put everything of herself, her hopes, fears, sorrows and joys.  Gladstone famously called it “a book without a parallell.”

The diaries were originally published by her family in an expurgated version in 1888, which was translated into English by the German born English poet, Mathilde Blind.  Marie describes her life, struggles to be accepted in art, and her illness, of which her hearing loss and deafness was a side effect.  More details of her life are to be found on the web (see links below) and her portrait paintings are very fine, well worth seeking out.  She attended the same Art School in Paris as the British Deaf art student George Annand Mackenzie did some years later, the Académie Julian.

Her experience of losing her hearing will, I believe, be recognized by many in a similar situation.  The follow entries date from 1880.  At first there is the mishearing –

Saturday, May 8th. — When people talk in a low voice I do not near. This morning when Tony asked me whether I had seen any of Pemgino’s work, I said “No,” without understanding.

And when I was told of it afterwards, I got out of it, but very badly, by saying that indeed I had not seen any of it, and that, on the whole, it was better to admit one’s ignorance. (p.406)

Then she has tinnitus, and has to endure the ignorant behaviour of others –

Thursday, May 13th. — I have such a singing in my ears that I am obliged to make great efforts in order that it may not be noticed.

Oh ! it is horrible. With S___ it is not so bad because I am sitting near him ; and besides, whenever I like, I can tell him that he bores me.  The G___s talk loud. At the studio they laugh and tell me that I have become deaf; I look pensive, and I laugh at myself: but it’s horrible. (p.407)

There are times when it improves –

Wednesday, July 21st. — I have commenced my treatment. You are fetched in a closed Sedan chair. A costume of white flannel — drawers and stockings in one — and a hood and cloak ! Then follow a bath, a douche, drinking the waters, and inhaling in succession. I accept everything. This is the last time that I mean to take care of myself, and I shouldn’t do it now but for the fear of becoming deaf. My deafness is much better — nearly gone. (p.416)

Then she is told how serious her condition is –

Friday, September 10th. — … Doctor Fauvel, who sounded me a week ago and found nothing the matter, has sounded me to-day and found that my bronchial tubes are attacked ; his look became . . .  grave, affected, and a little confused at not having foreseen the seriousness of the evil ; then followed some of the prescriptions for consumptive persons, cod-liver oil, painting with iodine, hot milk, flannel, &c. &c, and at last he advises going to see Dr. Sée or Dr. Potain, or else to bring them to his house for a consultation. You may imagine what my aunt’s face was like ! I am simply amused ! I have suspected something for a long time ; I have been coughing all the winter, and I cough and choke still.

Besides, the wonder would be if I had nothing the matter ; I should be satisfied to have something serious and be done with it

My aunt is dismayed, and I am triumphant Death does not frighten me; I should not dare to kill myself but I should like to be done with it . . . If you only knew ! . . . . I will not wear flannel nor stain myself with iodine; I am not anxious to get better. I shall have, without that, quite enough health and life for all I shall be able to do in it.

Friday, September 17th. — Yesterday I went again to the doctor to whom I went about my ears, and he admitted that he did not expect to see matters so serious, and that I should never hear so well as formerly. I felt as if struck dead. It is horrible! I am not deaf certainly, but I hear as one sees through a thin veil. For instance, I cannot hear the tick of my alarm-clock, and I may perhaps never hear it again without going close up to it. It is indeed a misfortune. Sometimes in conversation many things escape my hearing. . . . Well, let us thank heaven for not being blind or dumb as yet. (p.422-3)

This was two years before Robert Koch, the founder of modern microbiology, identified the causative agent of ‘consumption’ – Tuberculosis, as Mycobacterium tuberculosis.  It seems likely that the this was the cause of her deafness, but we cannot be sure.  In that year, 1882, she was confronted by the news that her hearing was gone and would not return –

Thursday, November 16th. — I have been to a great doctor — a hospital surgeon — incognito and quietly dressed, so that he might not deceive me.

Oh! he is not an amiable man. He has told me very simply I shall never be cured. But my condition may improve in a satisfactory manner, so that it will be a bearable deafness ; it is so already ; it will be more so according to all appearances. But if I do not rigorously follow the treatment he prescribes it will increase. He also directs me to a little doctor who will watch over me for two months, for he has not the time himself to see me twice a week as is necessary.

I have had for the first time the courage to say, “Monsieur, I am growing deaf.” Hitherto I have made use of, ” I do not hear well, my ears are stopped, &c.” This time I dared to say that dreadful thing, and the doctor answered me with the brutality of a surgeon.

I hope that the misfortunes announced by my dreams may be that But let us not busy ourselves in advance with the troubles which God holds in reserve for his humble servant. Just at present I am only half deaf.

However, he says that it will certainly get better. As long as I have my family to watch round me and to come to my assistance with the readiness of affection all goes well, yet …. but alone, in the midst of strangers !

And supposing I have a wicked or indelicate husband ! … If again it had been compensated by some great happiness with which I should have been crowned without deserving it ! But . . . why, then, is it said that God is good, that God is just ?

Why does God cause suffering? If it is He who has created the world, why has He created evil, suffering, and wickedness ?

So then I shall never be cured. It will be bearable ; but there will be a veil betwixt me and the rest of the world. The wind in the branches, the murmur of the water, the rain which falls on the windows . . . words uttered in a low tone … I shall hear nothing of all that ! With the K____ s I did not find myself at fault once ; nor at dinner either ; directly the conversation is just a little animated I have no reason to complain. But at the theatre I do not hear the actors completely ; and with models, in the deep silence, one does not speak loud . . . However . . . without doubt, it had been to a certain decree foreseen. I ought to have become accustomed to it during the last year … I am accustomed to it, but it is terrible all the same.

I am struck in what was the most necessary to me and the most precious. (p.565-6)

She died on October the 31st, 1884, and was buried in the Cimetiere de Passy in Paris, a few weeks before her twenty-sixth birthday.

It is certainly wrong to portray her by her illness alone.  She was a dynamic and interesting person, and the tragedy is she did not have the opportunity to show what she might have achieved.  I hope some of you will be interested to read her diaries and see her paintings.

Marie_Bashkirtseff1878Journal of Marie Bashkirtseff, Translated by Mathilde Blind, London 1890

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Marie-Bashkirtseff

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/13916/13916-h/13916-h.htm

Marie Bashkirtseff. Part 2 her later life and diaries

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie_Bashkirtseff

Marie Bashkirtseff. Part 1 The portraitist and feminist

Gladstone, W. E. (1889). JOURNAL DE MARIE BASHKIRTSEFF. The Nineteenth Century: A Monthly Review, Mar.1877-Dec.1900, 26(152), 602-607. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/2630378?accountid=14511

Her paintings:

https://www.wikiart.org/en/marie-bashkirtseff/all-works#!#filterName:all-paintings-chronologically,resultType:masonry

https://www.ecosia.org/images?q=marie+bashkirtseff

The following looks interesting but I have not seen the article:

VALLERY-RADOT P 1955 Nov 26;63(79):1659-60. Une curieuse malade (1860-1884); Marie Bashkirtseff peinte par elle-même d’après son journal. [A strange patient (1860-1884); Marie Bashkirtseff who, according to her diary, she portrayed herself]. [Article in French]

 

“He owes his mental development to the manual method” – George Annand Mackenzie, the first Deaf man to get a degree in Britain

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 9 November 2018

George Annand Mackenzie,  (1868-1951) was the first born deaf man to obtain a degree from a British university (B.A. in Theology, 1910, Master of Arts, Cambridge, 1911).*

Born to Scottish parents, his father was a chief reporter for the Liverpool Mercury (census, 1881).  He was not the first in his family who was deaf.  His elder brother, James Wilson Mackenzie (1865-95), was a talented artist, but he died young, and his obituary appeared in his father’s paper.  I wonder if their father wrote it –

THE LATE MR WILSON MACKENZIE.—Poignant regret is kindled in the hearts of his old masters, his old fellow-students, his nearer circle of friends, and the wider range which embraces those whose admiring appreciation is confined to true art, by the announcement of the death of Mr. J. Wilson Mackenzie, eldest eon of Mr. J. B. Mackenzie, of Liverpool, the sad event having occurred at West Kirby on Tuesday night. Early in his youth Wilson Mackenzie developed a remarkable aptitude in drawing and a fine sense of colour. He was placed under Mr. John Finnie, the principal of the School of Art, in Mount-street, and after a prolonged course of tuition in that nursery of painters, passed over to Paris, where he spent some time in the famous studio of Bougereau. While on the very threshold of his career, and later, he was an honoured exhibitor at the Royal Academy, and on many occasions works from his easel were hung in the Autumn Exhibitions in the Walker Gallery. In portraiture he ever minced the highest qualities of perception of charterer, and notable examples of his rare gifts in this direction are to be found inks presentments of the late Dr. E. M. Sheldon, Dr. J. Kona Smith, the late Police Magistrate of Birkenhead (Mr. J. Preston), and the into Dr. Costine. Some few years back signs of failure of the young painter’s health began to assert themselves, and in search of restoration he repaired to Davos Plata. For a time the change gave rise to hopes of recovery, but these, alas, faded away, and he returned home a. few months ago to die amongst those he loved so well. Wilson Mackenzie—it is agreeably easy to recall his eyes, quick with the brightness of genius, his graceful features, and his buoyant demeanour—was of a singularly sweet disposition, and all who know him, and knowing him therefore esteemed him, share with his parents. his sister, and his brothers the grief with which the calamity of his untimely demise has overshadowed their household. The funeral is to take place at. West Kirby Parish Church, at three o’clock to-morrow (Friday) afternoon. (Liverpool mercury, 1895, 1oth October)

In fact, the 1881 census says that George was ‘semi-deaf from birth,’ suggesting that at least when younger he had some hearing.  His mother sent him to live in Perthshire with an uncle who farmed , in the hope that the climate would help his hearing, but he seems to have run wild and was so shy on his return that he hid when he was re-introduced to his older brother (Silent World 1951, p.266).  We also read that he – and presumably his brothers – was taught initially by his mother “in finger spelling and signing – arts in which she was adept” which makes one wonder whether she learnt to help them or had learnt from some deaf relative.  Robert Armour (1837-1913), Missioner for the Deaf in Liverpool (born in Kilmarnock and deafened at 18 months by “some malady of the brain”) gave him some instruction in English composition, and he and his brothers walked five miles to the nearest church where services for the Deaf were held, so they met other members of the local Deaf community, like George Healey.

At thirteen after irregular attendances at a junior school, he went to a large hearing school, where the classes were too big and the teachers overworked. Being the only deaf pupil there he received scant attention. His school-mates with the thoughtless cruelty of the young made fun of him, standing around the door when class was dismissed and waving their hands and fingers in mimicry of his only means of expression. He took all this, he says, in good part, refusing to be drawn into any manifestation of anger or weakness and his good natured smiles soon made the game lose its savour and turned most of his tormentors into staunch and understanding friends. (Silent World p.266-7)

He was pretty much left to work out lessons for himself, gazing at pages of fractions and decimals until he understood, and he was successful enough to win school prizes (ibid).  His mother encouraged him to use his voice, but in The Teacher of the Deaf (1910, p.150) we read “He owes his mental development to the manual method.”

Leaving school, he became an artist like his brothers, winning prizes, and painting portraits of Sir Edward R. Russell , Dr. Robert Jones, and the Rev. T.W.M. Laud, among others.  He worked as an art master at a Liverpool school, and a potterty designer in Derby, before becoming a missioner to the deaf in 1901.  He then worked in Ely, Oxford and Cambridgeshire, before going to Cardiff from 1921 until his retirement in 1931.

He had tried to enter Liverpool University, with no success, and was also declined at Oxford when he was missioner there.  In 1907 the Cambridge University academics were however more enlightened than their Oxford colleagues, and he was accepted as a student.  He was excused lectures and spent the days reading for six to eight hours.  He graduated in 1910, causing a minor splash in newspapers of the time.

George married a Deaf lady from Cambridgeshire, Emily Lucy Kett (a good Norfolk name!) (1873-1954), and they had the one child, Alan.  He became involved in the deaf community, not really surprisingly, and went into the church.  The Rev.Alan F. Mackenzie (1911-1997) worked for the R.A.D.D. and was at one time on the council of the N.I.D.

The younger brother, Charles Douglas Mackenzie (1875-1953), was also Deaf.  He too became an artist, and seems to have made a living out of it.  He remained living with their mother after his father died.  Unfortunately I have not had time to research him properly.

*There is always the slim possibility that someone sneaked through before this, unrecorded.

1871 Census – Class: RG10; Piece: 3849; Folio: 124; Page: 54; GSU roll: 841928

1881 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 3419; Folio: 6; Page: 3

British Deaf Times, 1910, 7, 169-170

Grand Old Gentleman, Silent World vol.5 (9) 1951 p.266-8

The Messenger, 1910 vol.10 (6) p.80-82

Obituary. Teacher of the Deaf, 1951, 49, 154

ROE, W.R. Peeps into the deaf world. Bemrose, 1917. pp. 186-92.

Teacher of the Deaf, 1910, 8, 149-151. (photo)

A short history of the Action on Hearing Loss Library

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 29 October 2018

The Action on Hearing Loss Library, formerly the RNID Library, can trace its origin to a meeting held on 9th June 1911. The National Bureau for Promoting the General Welfare of the Deaf was founded by the wealthy banker Leo Bonn and a group of people interested in trying to draw together the various organisations that dealt with deafness and hearing loss to better promote the issues involved. The first annual report (1912) said “considerable headway has been made in the establishment of a library on deafness and the deaf.” Books were donated by many organisations and also by missioners to the deaf like the Rev. F.W.G. Gilby. The Arnold Library from the National Association for Teachers of the Deaf was accommodated in the Bureau’s offices for some years, before being sold by the National Association for Teachers of the Deaf to Manchester University, and the collection was open from 10am to 1pm on Saturdays.

The Great War held up the work of the Bureau which was reconstituted in March 1924 in High Holborn under the title the National Institute for the Deaf. We can see from the annual reports that spending on ‘Periodicals and publications’ in 1925-6 was £4 5s 11d, but already by 1931 this had risen to £74 9d. By 1932-3 the Institute was outgrowing its cramped offices, now in Bloomsbury St, and space was needed for a proper library, so in 1934 premises were purchased at 105 Gower St. At that time the Royal Ear Hospital was in Huntley St and in conjunction with the NID they set up an early hearing aid clinic.

The Second World War once again restricted the work of the Institute but with the help of their pressure in 1948 the first NHS Medresco hearing aid was made free, and importantly its batteries were also made free.  The same year the Honorary Librarian H.G.M. Strutt BA was thanked for “converting our collection of books and pamphlets into the nucleus of a modern library service for the deaf.”  The new library, which opened on March 10th 1948, on the second floor (we have always been up the stairs!) was open for 3 days a week and sent books out on loan, though the postage was paid by the borrowers. Early users then were mainly teachers of the deaf and trainees in deaf welfare.  “It is free, there are no fines and for the most part borrowers observe the regulations”.  Books were purchased for Manchester University’s Deaf Education students, and the first journals were now bound.

In 1951 the library received a boost by the addition of the collection of books & photographs made by the missioner to the deaf, Selwyn Oxley. The collection was classified under the Bliss System.  In 1957 the Australian Dr Pierre Gorman was appointed librarian.  Gorman, who was born deaf, was the first deaf person to graduate with a PhD from Cambridge University.  After Gorman left the UK he returned to Australia where he died in 2006.

By the 1990s the RNID (it became Royal in 1961) had outgrown Gower St and moved to Old St.  The future of the library was in the balance but Professor Tony Wright, then head of the Institute of Laryngology, negotiated the transfer of the collection management to UCL while the RNID maintained ownership and gave financial support to the collection.  For many years until her retirement in 2003 the librarian was Mary Plackett who knew the collection intimately having worked for the RNID since the 1960s.

See also NID/RNID Annual Reports and various NID/RNID magazines and journals for the details.

William Walter Adamson, Missioner to the Deaf in Northumberland, (1867-1947)

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 25 October 2018

William Walter Adamson was a Geordie of Scottish extraction.  He was born in Newcastle in 1867, son of Thomas (a draper) and his wife Elizabeth.  He was educated at Dr. Bruce’s Academy, according to a note by Selwyn Oxley.  He seems to have remained in the city all his life, dying in 1947 at the age of eighty.  In 1885 he formed a club for poor boys in the city, and a Deaf boy came along.  As he lived near the Northern Counties Institution (school), he went along and this began a life-long interest in the Deaf (Teacher of the Deaf, on which much of this is based).  In 1895 he gave up work in a local shipping company, and became a candidate for ordination.  The Rev. Gilby mentions him several times in his memoir – they worked quite closely together in the ten years following, Adamson becomomg a co-editor of Our Monthly Church Messenger to the Deaf (Gilby memoir p.172).

Adamson was made the first chaplain to The Northumberland and Durham Mission to the Deaf and Dumb, a post he held until 1920.

His obituary says that he disliked publicity, and “fought firmly all exploitation of the deaf.”  It continues –

He taught all manner of subjects at the Mission and interested the members in athletics, in-door games and hobbies.  He sought out deaf children who were not attending school and brought them to the notice of the Authorities.  These self-appointed tasks were carried out with enthusiasm and the work he began 50 years ago is now well established.

His understanding and knowledge of the problems of the deaf placed him in a unique position in the North.  He had a large circle of influential friends and he was able to cover much ground in his efforts to improve matters for all handicapped children. In addition to the work he did for the deaf, a lively interest was taken in blind and crippled children.  During his life-time he saw many changes, and thanks to his efforts light and colour brightened innumerable lives.  The spiritual life and general welfare of the deaf were his constant care and he was often consulted with regard to improve-ments in schools and administrative affairs.

Adamson never married but lived for many years with a sister.

Below is a page from the local mission magazie, D & D from 1903, and a photograph that appears to show him to the left of Sir Arthur Fairbairn at a ‘sale of Work’ for the mission.

Click onto the images for a larger size.

Our Monthly Church Messenger to the Deaf, 1894 vol.1 p.15-16

Obituary, Teacher of the Deaf, 1947 p.205

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

 

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

 

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.

Questions on Astronomy – test yourself against Deaf pupils of the 19th century!

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 20 July 2018

Unfortunately we have no reports for the Halifax School, but it has a very interesting origin, which I found in Clifton F. Carbin’s comprehensive book, Deaf Heritage in Canada (1996, pages 125-7 in particular).  The officially recognised founder was one William Gray (1806-1881), a native of Scone in Perthshire.  Gray was, says Carbin, a pupil at the Edinburgh Institution, from the 26th of March, 1819, to 1824.  He married Isabella Blyth (ca. 1819-93) in Edinburgh on the 11th of November, 1845.  She was an Aberdonian who Carbin says was also deaf, and they had a daughter Isabella.  He worked as a tailor.  In 1851 they were living in Whitehouse Close, 276 Canongate, Edinburgh. In 1855 they emigrated to Halifax.  It was there he chanced to meet another deaf Scot, George Tait (1828-1904).  Tait, son of a Caithness farmer, had also been a pupil at the Edinburgh Institution, according to their records from 1842-9, but he claimed he was there from the age of 12 (ca. 1840) to 1844 when he went to sea (see Carbin).  Trained as a carpenter, according to his later account, the captain of ship he was working on in Liverpool dock allowed him to masquerade as a sailor to get past the customs officer, and he went to sea, travelling to the West Indies, then Maine.  He ended up joining his uncle who was also a carpenter, in Nova Scotia.

When Tait arrived in Halifax in 1856, he was asked to tutor a deaf girl called Mary Ann Fletcher (1845-59). She urged him to start a school, and when he met Gray, who he saw signing, or finger-spelling, in the street, he suggested to Gray that he become a teacher.  The school opened on the 4th of August, 1856.  Tait later claimed his contribution had been ignored, and in 1907 a committee voted to favour the Gray claim as founder.

The school was closed in 1861.

Carbin says that there is little evidence as to the methods Gray used to teach, but he does not appear to have been terribly good at it.  His time at the school ended in 1870 in disgrace, after he was charged with appearing in front of the pupils intoxicated, and threathening them with violence if they reported him.

We have a small green booklet that was printed for the use of pupils in the school Gray – and Tait – started in Halifax, Nova Scotia, called Questions on Astronomy for the use of the Pupils of The Institution for the Deaf and Dumb.   It was intended to test the pupils on their knowledge of the text book Calkin’s Geography, one of the books to be found here, so it was probably printed in the 1870s or 1880s.  The knowledge that they were expected to acquire would test a modern geography student.  Do you think that you could answer the questions?  A link to the full document appears above.

Who knew that Alcyone – in the Pleiades – was supposed to be heaven?

http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/hutton_james_scott_12E.html