Archive for the 'Deaf History' Category

A Deaf suffragist – Kate Harvey 1862-1946

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 16 March 2018

Born Felicia Catherine Glanvill, but also known as ‘Glanville’ and as ‘Kate,’ little is known about the youth of this deaf suffragist.  Her father’s familiy was from East Surrey, her grandfather being a ‘philosophical instrument maker.’  She was born in Peckham in 1862, and named after her mother, Felicia Catherine La Thangue, whose father was a mariner.  Her mother died when she was young, in 1870, and her father Frederick then died when she was about sixteen, in 1879.  Grandmother Felicia, her mother’s mother, was described as a Professor of Music on the 1871 census, and I wonder if she took over care of her three grand daughters.  At any rate I was unable to find the three sisters on the 1881 census, so all we can say about her is that she lost her hearing at some point after 1871, probably as a result of illness but after acquiring speech.  She was certainly not noted as ‘deaf’ on the 1901 census, but, as said on many occasions in these pages, that does not always reflect the reality of a person’s hearing loss.

At some point in her 20s, where and when I cannot say, she met met Frank Harvey, a cotton merchant, and they married in India at Cuddapah, Madras, on the 12th of November, 1890.  Perhaps the family have records, perhaps not, but there may be more to discover.  Her youngest sister Edith married first, in the Cambridge registration district in 1889, while Florence married a Joseph Hopley in 1900 , who was five years younger than her.  The reason I have looked at the family, is that sometimes it allows a glimpse of the reasons why people made choices, such as whether to marry or not.  Perhaps Kate, as we will now refer to her (perhaps she preferred to use her second name), felt forced into marriage, and the Women’s Suffrage movement helped her assert herself.

After her marriage Kate had three daughters (and it seems the third Rita had a male twin Rex, who died in 1906, but that needs confirmation), but then her husband Frank died in 1905.  Her marriage left her with money, a governess for her daughters, and four servants, in stark contrast with her sisters whose husbands were skilled manual workers.

Kate was involved in early meetings of the National Society for Women’s Suffrage (NSPU) (Woodford, p.7, quoting a thesis by Gillian Rutter).  After her husband’s death it seems she became  a physiotherapist, albeit untrained, and was heavily involved in voluntary work with East London poor (ibid p.9).  At some point she met Charlotte Despard, through whose diaries we get a much better picture of Kate Harvey. They lived together, & protested together, forming a close bond.  I will not repeat the full story here as others have already covered it in greater depth, but after a siege of her home, bailiffs eventually broke in, and The Times tells us,

Mrs Catherine Harvey, of Bromley, a member of the Women’s Freedom League, has been conveyed to Holloway Prison to undergo two month’s imprisonment. At Bromley Police Court some five weeks ago Mrs. Harvey was ordered to pay fines amounting to over £16 under an Insurance Act application and over £5 under the Kent County Council prosecution. She declined to pay, and her presentimprisonment is the outcome of her refusal. (The Times, 1913)

After the war she took up work with children again, running some form of school at Hartfield in Sussex. Her close relationship with Despard weakened. Running of that school was taken over by The Invalid Children’s Aid Association from 1924 to 1927, but then she took up running the school again.  You can read more about Kate Harvey in the article by Doreen Woodford, who investigated to what extent she signed.  After conversation with a witness, it seems that Harvey used finger-spelling rather than sign language.

She died at her house of Wroth Tyes, Hartfield, in 1946.

I could not find her in the 1911 census.  Perhaps I did not look hard enough, but I suppose it is possible she refused to fill in the form.
Article from The Vote, June the 17th, 1911

The Times (London, England), Wednesday, Sep 03, 1913; pg. 4; Issue 40307

Woodford, Doreen A. ‘A Deaf Fighter for the Rights of Women.’ Deaf History Journal, 1999, Vol.2 (3) p.7-21


Four Deaf Brothers of Bristol, and various Deaf spouses…

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 2 March 2018

In the late 19th Ccentury, the Williams family of Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol, was large – ten children in all, including four deaf brothers, Henry (1850-192?), George (1852-193?), Frederick (1861-193?), and Joshua (1868-1954).  Henry was the first child, son of a Westbury labourer, Henry Williams (1820-86) and his Hull born wife, Matilda Ingram (1826-1912).  Henry was born in Hull, so he might be claimed by the Yorkshire Deaf community as one of their own, while the other brothers were all born in Gloucestershire, where the family moved in the 1850s.

The boys all attended the Park Row School, according to the British Deaf Times (1930 p.79).  Henry, or Harry, was there in the 1861 census, along with George, living in we must suppose.  The school was then under the headmaster John Clyne, who was Scottish born, and whose wife Caroline was the matron.   In the 1891 census Harry is shown as a blacksmith, a trade also followed by George.  The article from 1930 says Harry ‘died a few years ago, in London’ though I am not ot sure when, as Henry Williams is not going to be a rare name!  George was at school with Henry, and their names are next to each other on the census record.  George left Bristol and moved to Cardiff in 1887, retiring circa 1928 (ibid).  He had married a Deaf Bristolian lady in 1881, Mary Ann Burston (1856-19??).  Mary was a pupil at Park Row in 1871, when it was under the headship of the Yorkshire born teacher, Robert James Jackson, with his wife Thirza, who was matron.  George made a mess of the 1911 census form, but it looks as if they had no children, or maybe one.

Fred was Mary Ann’s contemporary at the same school, and so was her younger brother, Henry Burston (b.1861).  The 1861 census shows us that Mary Ann’s older sister, Maria Burston (b.1845) was also deaf, but she never married, working in Bristol as a laundress.

The next three boys, John, Frank and James, were all hearing.

Joshua, the youngest of the deaf boys, became a ‘boot clicker,’ and married a deaf lady, Mabel Florence Hurley (1869-1848), whose name appears just before his on the 1881 census record for the Bristol Institution.  At that time they were at Tyndalls Park School, and under the headship of William B. Smith.  Mabel, who was born in Weston-Super-Mare, daughter of Thomas Hurley a railway policeman and his wife Martha, was ‘deaf from childhood’ according to the 1881 census, and I think we might hazard a guess that it was due to illness.

Fred also worked in the shoe trade.  Fred’s wife, Mary Emery, was hearing, and they had eight children.

Here we see Fred, then 69, George, then 77, and Joshua, then 62.

I am sure that there are many interesting things to be discovered about these people and their relationships.

British Deaf Times 1930 p.79

see also Census returns. 

[Usually I give the full reference but today there were too many to do that easily in the time available.  The details should be comparatively easy to find using a family history database, although the common name makes finding death records a lot more difficult.

For those of you with an www.ancestry.co.uk account, begin here where someone has put together records for Joshua and Mabel https://www.ancestry.co.uk/family-tree/person/tree/42185401/person/19995316700/facts]


Soviet Education for the Deaf

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 26 January 2018

Half a century ago the Mayor of Moscow called deaf mutes “living creatures who cannot properly be called human beings, but who only bear an outer resemblance to them.”

Five years later, in 1917, the workers and peasants assumed power in Russia.

The new social system accepted the deaf as useful citizens, and erased the brand that made them outcasts.

The Soviet Government not only recognised the legal rights of deaf mutes, but also provided all the conditions for those rights to be realised. (Pavel Sutyagin, Of those who cannot hear, 1962)

I cannot vouch for the source of Sutyagin’s quotation, but the official was likely to have been Alexander Adrianov, Governor-General of Moscow (1908–1915).  This booklet was produced in 1962, after a vistit to the U.S.S.R. by the World Federation for the Deaf.

After the revolution, all schools came under state control, and a Decree of 10th of December, 1919, ‘the Commisariat of Education was given responsibility for deaf mutes, blind and mentally retarded children.’  The Soviet Education Bulletin continues,

In 1926 and 1927 the Council for People’s Commisars laid down statues for establishments where deaf, dumb, blind and retarded children were educated and called for an improvement in this field, particularly in the training of such young people for socially useful work. Recognising the difficulty of this work, the Soviet Government instituted various incentives to induce teachers to qualify for it (higher saleries, pensions and so on).

Further decrees were issued in 1931 and 1936.  That of 1936 criticised the application of bourgeois “theories which were holding back the correct development of special schools.  This decree abandoned pedology and distributed most children classed as “difficult to educate” among ordinary schools.

In the post-war period special attention has been paid to children needing special education.  New types of vocational schools have been built for the further education of deaf-mutes. (p2)

I suppose ‘pedology’ is an error for pedagogy.  We have a collection of Russian language books, most of which are about to be catalogued by a colleague from the UCL SSEES Library.  I think they were donated by Russian visitors in the 1950s, and 1960s, while I expect some came from visits of groups to the U.S.S.R. by people like our former Librarian, Pierre Gorman.  Most seem to be oral in approach.

Below are some examples from beautifully illustrated books for teaching.  First, a 1965 book with a chapter on space and Yuri Gagarin, the classic soviet hero.

Next a reader for the second class, with gorgeous animal and bird pictures. Note the story of the crane and the fox.

Finally a book that looked to me to be from the 1950s, but is in fact from 1987, again with really good illustrations.

Lenin appears again, as do lots of nature pictures.

After writing this, we came across yet another publication, Overcoming the Silence Barrier by Ilya Gitlits, (1975).  It includes photos by the Deaf Russian photographer, Yuri Polkhovski.

Gitlits, Ilya, Overcoming the Silence Barrier, Novosti (1975).

Vartanyan, Eduard and Gitlits, Ilya (introduction by Sutyagin), Of those who cannot hear, 1962

SCR, Soviet Education Bulletin, 1955 vol 2 (1)


Job Platt Barrett, F.E.S., Teacher of the Deaf & amateur entomologist -‘signs turn this dreary world of ours into a “little heaven”’

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 12 January 2018

Job Platt Barrett (1838-1916), or J.P. Barrett as he was known, was a long serving and influential Teacher of the Deaf.  Born on the 29th of June, 1838, at Marsden, he began his teaching life with Charles Baker at Doncaster, and was, according to The British Deaf-Mute ‘“articled” after a rough and ready fashion’ on the 6th of January, 1851, when he was 12 (p.170).  He is to be found on the census for April 1851 as an apprentice teacher, on probation, along with Edward Bill of Birmingham, then aged 15, and with two older full apprentice teachers, Samuel Smith and Noah Freeman, both from Leicestershire.  Colleagues of his at Doncaster included Alexander Melville, J.W. North, and Samuel Smith was called, ‘his particular friend’ (British Deaf Mute, p.170).

Leaving Doncaster in June 1857 he became a tutor to a ‘ward in chancery’ but when the child became ill Barrett lost that position.  On the 25th of January, 1858 he was engaged by Thomas James Watson and moved to the Old Kent Road Asylum – we are told as ‘the first teacher from the provinces’ (ibid).  He married Sarah Dodson in Canterbury in 1861.  In 1881 he moved to the new school in Margate, living with his wife Sarah at the nearby village of Birchington, where in his spare time he pursued antiquarian interets in local history, writing historical articles as ‘John Pharos’ (see various obituaries).  He remained at the school until retirement in 1908.  By now a widower, he then moved back closer to London and according to probate records his last address was in Forest Hill (Ephphatha p.469).

In 1896 he estimated that 3,000 pupils had ‘come under his ken’ so he was probably quite influential. He held that the pupil was ‘the important factor for consideration’ and clearly was frustrated by what he called ‘”fads” of Committees, Inspectors, Head-Masters, and of individual teachers’ (British Deaf Mute, p.170-1).  He wanted an association for teachers that was ‘sufficiently powerful to prevent such ill-advised appointments as have recently taken place’ (ibid).  I wonder to whom he was referring?

The article shows him to have been in favour of sign language, in the perhaps paternalistic way that some in favour of the ‘combined’ method had.  I leave the reader to judge:

Another point that he is not afraid to speak out strongly upon, is the use (and misuse) of signs.  Whenever he hears anyone condemn the use of signs in toto, he invariably asks: Can the speaker sign fluently?  Has he or she a thorough acquaintance with the language of signs?  Without that knowledge the importance and the power of signs are unknown and unappreciated.  He adds that only an expert signer can fully recognise the pleasure that the afflicted congenital deaf-mute derives from signs.  To him, signs turn this dreary world of ours into a “little heaven,” they are both poetry and music to him, and for those intellects are not of the brightest, and their number is large, signs are an absolute necessity.

Much has been done for the deaf and dumb during the past century, but Mr. Barrett points out that the education of a deaf and dumb child still begins as it always has done at zero, and the pupils at the beginning of this century were equally well taught with these of the present day. (ibid, p.171)

His life was touched by tragedy after he retired in 1908.  On the 28th of December, on a holiday visiting his son Arthur in Sicily, where he spent time looking for butterflies, they narrowly escaped death in the terrible earthquake, only for his daughter-in-law Jemima, and his grandson Claude (born in April 1905) to be killed (see obituaries and www.ancestry.co.uk).   His son, a merchant, returned to England, and remarried in 1913.*

Barrett was an avid entomologist all his life.  I expect he was encouraged in that interest when he was with Charles Baker, as Baker had earlier produced a book on butterflies when he was at the Birmingham Institute in 1828.  Richard Elliott says in one of his three obituaries of Barrett that,

In the course of many years he collected and arranged a collection of British insects, which, we hear, he has left to the British Museum.  We believe it one of the most complete in existence, and is worthy of his fame as one of the first entomologists of the present day. (Ephphatha, Elliott p.469)

In fact the collection went to the Horniman Museum, at least according to the obituary in The Entomologist’s record and journal of variation (p.44).  There are two obituaries of him in Entomological journals.  He was one of the key people behind the foundation of the South London Entomological Society, which eventually became The British Entomological and Natural History Society.

It was at his house in Peckham the South London Entomological and Natural History Society was founded.  1872 is the accepted date but informal meetings were held there a year or two previously.  He was elected President in 1877 but resigned membership just before his removal to Margate, and did not rejoin til 1900. (H.M[oore])

Moore also tells us that

Since his retirement from active work, in 1908, he had for some years given an evening’s entertainment to the deaf of South London, to which he frequently invited the writer, who felt himself the only deaf person present.  Those who were at the annual meeting of the Entomological Society last year will remember the “tale of a tramp,” told by the President, that Mr. Platt-Barrett told on his fingers to his deaf and dumb guests shortly afterwards, who laughed as heartily as the fellows who heard it.

His friend of fifty years, G.T. Porritt, says in his obituary (The Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine) that he was one of the founders of the South London Entomological Society, “practically the founder […] The meetings were first held at his house in Peckham where he acted as the Secretary, becoming the third Presdient, in 1877” (Porritt, p.69).

He gets a mention in Michael A. Salmon et al’s The Aurelian Legacy (2000), though the authors, who gave him the wrong Christian name, thought Barrett had a hearing loss, probably assuming that as he was at the Doncaster Institution he was Deaf, whereas he was training as a teacher, and from a misunderstanding of the passage above, where Barrett was hearing a story then interpreting it to his Deaf friends.**

He died on the 27th of December, 1916.  His wife had predeceased him in 1883, and after retirement he went to live with his daughters.  He was buried in Burchington, at her side.

The top picture shows him in 1857, the second one is to be found in both his obituary in Ephphatha and Teacher of the Deaf.

He clearly had the respect of Richard Elliott, who says,

Mr. Barrett was a real friend of the deaf and dumb.  He was never tired of advocating their interests, or of trying to serve them.  He had a real knowledge of their mentality, and a full power of communicating with, and influencing them by that means.  (British Deaf Times, p.45)

https://www.ancestry.co.uk/family-tree/person/tree/1198262/person/24108738661/facts [log in required]

Biography. British Deaf-Mute, 1896, 5, 170-71. (photos)

Census 1851 – Class: HO107; Piece: 2347; Folio: 193; Page: 32; GSU roll: 87606

Elliott, R., Mr J.P. Barrett, Ephphatha, 1917 p.468-9 (photo)

Elliott, R., Mr J. Platt Barrett, Teacher of the Deaf, 1917 vol. 15 p.20-22 (photo)

Elliott, R., The Late Mr J.P. Barrett, The British Deaf Times, 1917, Vol. 14 p.44-5

H.M. [H. Moore], Obituary, The late J. Platt-Barrett, F.E.S., The Entomologist’s record and journal of variation, 1917 vol. 39 (2), p.43-4

The National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Consulate, Palermo, Italy and predecessor: Miscellanea; Class: FO 653; Piece: 21

Porritt, H.M., J. Platt Barrett, The Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine, 1917, vol. 53 p. 69-70

  • There is often mention of ‘fosse comuni’ (mass grave), but my Sicilian born colleague is unsure where they are. The Cimitero Monumentale, where some of the dead were buried in Messina, has an English section.  The house was at Via Pozzo Leone, 5: https://tinyurl.com/y8cxvmo6
  • **This was then picked up on by Harry G. Lang and Jorge A. Santiago-Blay in their article ‘Contributions of deaf people to entomology: A hidden legacy,’ where they naturally assume that Barrett – Job not James – was Deaf.  That article is however well worth reading.

Hon. Venetia Marjorie Mabel Baring, 1890-1937 – “Deafness and Happiness”

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 22 December 2017

Venetia Marjorie Mabel Baring was a daughter of Francis Denzil Edward Baring, 5th Baron Ashburton.  In 1930 she wrote a booklet Deafness and Happiness, our copy being the 1935 reprint.  It was published by A.R. Mowbray, who produced religious and devotional books.  It is on vey good quality paper.  According to the short introduction by “A.F. Bishop of London” who seems to be Arthur Foley Winnington-Ingram, she was “afflicted in the heyday of her youth with almost total deafness” (p.iii).  Her photographic portrait is in the National Portrai Gallery collection, and a drawing of her is in the Royal Collection.

She was born in London in 1890.  She wrote her book with the encouragement of Winnington-Ingram.  Below is a page from the book which gives a flavour of its religious polemic.  It is certainly of interest to anyone who is fascinated by attitudes to deafness and how they have or have not changed over the years.

In 1936, Arthur Story wrote a letter to the BMJ about deafness.  Venetia Baring wrote a respose, echoing his words and developing her own ideas about deafness:

The helplessness of medical science where deafness is concerned is incontestable, and, as it is not of itself a menace to life, research into causes has suffered on financial grounds in comparison with other diseases. The complete lack of official understanding of deafness was painfully illustrated in the great war, when it was necessary for a few public-spirited individuals like the late Sir Frederick Milner to fight for the rights of deafened ex-Service men.  There are certainly signs that the medical profession is becoming increasingly alive to the fact that the monster is hydra-headed and that there are few mental and physical disorders to which it does not prove an open door unless intelligently handled.

From the last line of this letter we learn that she was “not born deaf, had acute hearing up to 19, and used no “aids” to nearly 30″ (ibid).

She died aged only 47 on the 15th of July, 1937, having suffered from serious illness before then.  Indeed, she added a chapter to the second edition of her book on ‘The Power and Use of Pain.’  “Science is working for the abolition of suffering; but it will never succeed, because, while sin exists, pain is inevitable and can even be a vital factor in the development of human personality.” (p.37)   She was clearly someone who had experienced pain and tried to work her own way through it.

It would be interesting to find out more about her.


Baring, Venetia, The Deaf and the Blind Br Med J 1936; 1 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.1.3934.1134 (Published 30 May 1936)

Oralist Arthur Alfred Kinsey of the Ealing Training College, “most uncompromising champion of the system to which he was devoted”

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 1 December 2017

Arthur A. Kinsey,  (1850–1888) was the Principal of the Ealing Training College, and an oralist teacher of the deaf.  He was born the son of an Arthur Kinsey, ‘gentleman’.  From his evidence to the Royal Commission we know that part of his education was in Germany. It may be that explains why I have been unable to find him in 1861 or 1871 or 1881 census returns.  He was the leading instrument for oralism in the period from 1877 to his death on Christmas Day, 1888.

When the Ealing Society was founded, he was introduced to Benjamin Ackers, presumably on account of his knowledge of German.  He was to be trained in the ‘German’ system, as oralism was also known.  From his testimony to the Royal Commission on the Blind, the Deaf and Dumb (pages 245-55) that would have been circa 1875.  He was to become the Principal of the academy when it opened in 1878, and to that end he travelled extensively in Europe, and was educated in Germany on the ‘oral’ system.  He remained for some time at Osnabrück, where he studied and then taught under  Rössler, who had been a pupil of Professor Moritz Hill of the Weissenfels school.  He also attended the school in Riehen, and visited schools in the U.S.A., where he studied under Bell (1876).  In 1877 he was one of those who led the oralists at the Conference of Head masters of Institutions and of other workers for the Education of the Deaf.

the rival systems were there brought face to face, and the great controversy between them began in England.  Mr. Kinsey entered upon the contest with all the fiery zeal of a combatant, and was, from first to last, a fearless and most uncompromising champion of the system to which he was devoted; ready to do battle in its defence at all times, in all places, and against all comers; giving no quarter, expecting none, accepting none.  Opinions will, of course, always be divided as to whether this is the best way in which to advance a new cause, but into such a question as this, beside a grave so prematurely opened and so newly closed, we do not enter here.  […] we cannot be surprised that in taking up a cause which at once came into conflict with that which so long had held the ground, opposition waxed warm in an ardent, able advocate like Mr. Kinsey.  Rightly or wrongly, this was his way: and no one will deny that he did possess in the fullest degree the courage of his convictions. (Obituary, p.60)

He was the secretary for the English-speaking section at the Milan Congress in 1880, and in Brussels in 1883, and the volume of proceedings in English was compiled from his official minutes as Secretary (ibid).

In 1882 Kinsey married Margaret Eveline Isabella Underwood, and after his death she continued at Ealing as Principal.  On his marriage certificate he described himself as ‘Professor’.  They had a son, Arthur Francis St John Kinsey (1883–1936).

His funeral was at Highgate cemetery.

Below, a page of his testimony from the Royal Commission report1889, vol.3.

1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 1190; Folio: 124; Page: 18

Obituary. Quarterly Review of Deaf-Mute Education, 1889, 2, 59-61.

Royal Commisssion on the Blind, the Deaf and Dumb

The Morning Post (London, England), Thursday, December 27, 1888; pg. [1]; Issue 36358.


Earnest Elmo Calkins, Deaf Pioneer of Modern Advertising

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 24 November 2017

Calkins signatureCHEarnest Elmo Calkins (1868-1964) was a pioneer of modern advertising.  Born in

In Design Observer, Steven Heller says of him, that he is “recognized as the founder of “styling the goods,” otherwise known as “consumer engineering” or even better known as “forced obsolescence”—he is considered in the pantheon of twentieth century Modernists.”

Calkins wrote a volume of memoirs, “Louder Please,” in 1924, & then in 1946 produced an extended version, “and hearing not-“; Annals of an Adman.  Writing in the third person, here as ‘the Boy,’ he describes here his loss of hearing in a chapter that appears in both volumes, ‘The ears begin to close’ :

nothing stands out with any sharpness, either teachers or lessons.  A sort of mist seems to veil the next three or four years.

The reason for the mist was that the Boy was growing deafer.  School seemed more futile the less he heard of it.  The world-old conflict between heredity and environment was henceforth to be influenced by a new element whose effect could not be foreseen.  Deafness introduced complications that required new adjustments, like deuces wild in a poker game.  The cause, it seems, was measles experienced at the age of six, at length bearing its evil fruit, but the predisposition was probably a part of his inheritance.  He was at least ten years old before his condition was realized, even by himself.  His fits of abstraction and oblivion were laid to inattention by the higher powers, both at home and abroad. (and hearing not, p.p.67-8)

He went on eventiually to college, and got good marks in mathematics, but otherwise, “For four years he sat in various classrooms, hearing almost nothing, content or at least resigned to make out a passable performance” (p.100).  He got into advertising aged 23, when he won a competition for an advertisement for a Bissell carpet sweeper.  Later on his advertising company was behind ‘Lucky Jim’ of the breakfast cereal Force, and he introduced modern art into American advertising in the 1920s.

CalkinsIn the chapter, ‘Social life of a deaf man,’ Calkins describes how so many famous people he met he was “unable to use, other than to satisfy my curiosity as to how they looked.”   He relied on his wife in many of these situations (p.180).  He says that “Deafness was the ever present influence.  It made or marred my attempts to earn a living, it selected my friends for me, and determined what I was to enjoy of social life, what my amusements were to be.” (p.181)

“A partially deaf man is like Aesop’s bat, neither animal nor bird, but having the disabilities of both, belonging neither to the hearing world  nor that of the totally deaf.” (p.188)

“Lip reading is like handwriting in that it is sometimes as clear as print and again as illegible as Horace Greeley‘s famous chirography.” (p.189)  He had lessons in lip reading with Edward B. Nitchie, who was deaf and whose books we have.

We have the two volumes of memoir mentioned above.  One is signed by Calkins, dedicated to Madeleine de Soyres.  They are well worth investigating, and he seems to me an engaging writer.

Calkins, Earnest Elmo, “Louder Please,” 1924

Calkins, Earnest Elmo, “and hearing not-“; Annals of an Adman.  New York, 1946

“the other children are not kind to them” – School for the Deaf, Surrey Lane, Battersea

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 17 November 2017

One of the London Board Schools, Surrey Lane School in Battersea was opened in 1899 according to the N.I.D.’s Handbook for 1913, the headmaster is listed as Mr. M. Campbell.  It accommodated forty pupils, who were “admitted as early as possible” and were taught with the oral method.  The Handbook tells us that,

deaf children within the area of the London County Council attend a day school to the age of 13, when they are drafted to one of the residential schools – boys to Anerley and girls to Oak Lodge.  The council defrays all necessary travelling expenses and provides guides.

The Council sends Roman Catholic children to Boston Spa, Jewish children to the Jews’ Home, and where necessary on health grounds children are sent to seaside or provincial Institutions.

All children before entering school are certified by the Medical Officer and the Superintendent of the Deaf Schools.

The Council boards out children whose homes are not suitable to the best interests of the child.

Superintendent and Organizer of the Deaf Schools: Mr. B.P. Jones, 15, Denmark Avenue, Wimbledon, S.W.

A class of hard-of-hearing children was formed in 1911 at the Ackmar Road School, Fulham.  It will be shortly held in a separate school.

However, The Royal Commission on the Blind, the Deaf and the Dumb of the U.K. (1889, p.295-99) took evidence from the Head Teacher, Mrs. Dancy, in 1886, but at that time a deaf class was integrated in the ordinary school, so perhaps the school was refounded in 1899 for Deaf only pupils.

This website has a photo showing the entrance of the school.   Mrs Dancy had been there only a year and a half in 1886, and had trained at Fitzroy Square under van Praagh, working there for five and a half to six years.  At that time, on leaving school children would then go to work – or not – but education ended.  The average attendance was 12, and her experience was with totally deaf children.  She would teach them for 5 hours a day, with the oral method.  The children were from a distance of two to three miles.  She was confident she had all the deaf children in her district.  She was paid £150 per year, and we learn that her class was the first established under the board, under the Oral Association.

When asked if the hearing pupils played with the deaf children, she said, “Not very freely; the other children are not kind to them, as a rule.” (p.200)

It seems that the school did not last long, as it was mentioned in the 1924 Handbook, but  not that of 1929I suspect that a few of the schools were closed and consolidated in that period.  The London Metropolitan Archives have admission registers from 1904-1914.  Perhaps the pupils were sent to Ackmar Road School in Fulham, which was near, if north of the river.  I will update this if I discover more.

Surrey Lane SchoolHere the Surrey pupils are having a dancing class.  Circa 1920 I would suppose.


William Moody of Manchester, “an idiot boy” (1849)

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 10 November 2017

William Moody was a deaf boy, and the son of Joseph Moody.  Joseph was born circa 1816 in Willoughbridge, Staffordshire.  His father, William senior, was at various times a gamekeeper or a butcher.  The name sometimes appears as Moodey.  He married Phebe or Phoebe Large in 1840, and they had two sons, William born in 1841 and Thomas born in 1843.  Sadly she died in 1845.  The eldest son, William, was either born deaf or lost his hearing in childhood.  Losing his mother when he was four must have been critical in his development.  I suspect that his father did not have any idea as to how he should deal with his son’s hearing loss.  In June 1846 he married for a second time to Louise or Louisa Thorman, also the daughter of a gamekeeper (see online records at www.ancestry.co.uk).  In 1863 Joseph was in prison for three months, according to research by a descendant (ibid), and in 1871 he was in the workhouse.  He died in an asylum in Prestwich, Scotland, in 1885.

My eye was drawn to this article from 1849 about the son, William Moody.  The same article, or versions thereof, appeared in several newspapers that week.  The story is interesting for many reasons.  It shows how young Deaf people in the 19th century, even living in central Manchester, where there was a very good deaf school, fell through the gaps in the system, such as it was, and how difficult it was for a parent to know what to do with such a child.  It also illustrates the importance of education, and supporting parents and children who have physical or emotional problems, to prevent them becoming a problem and a burden to society.  The story comes from the heart of Manchester;

Extensive Destruction of Property by an Idiot Boy
On Friday morning, William Moody, an idiot boy, apparently about seven or eight years old, and who is both deaf and dumb, was brought before the magistrates at the Borough Court, in order that some arrangements might be made for his future safe keeping.

Mr Superintendent Sawley stated that on the previous day the boy had contrived to get into the premises of Mr. John Barber, engraver to calico printers, Back Water-street, and, the men being absent, he had by means of a hammer almost wholly destroyed three or four engraved copper rollers, of the value of about £40; he had also broken and damaged a number of the punches and other tools, used fin engraving the rollers.  The boy’s father was a cab proprietor, living in Atherton’s Court, Young-street.

The father, who was present, said he had four children; he had made application to the relieving officers to take some steps to confine the boy, and he was willing to pay whatever might be necessary for his support in an asylum.

Mr. Sawley said he had several times sent for the father with regard to the boy, who appeared to be allowed to run about the streets uncared for.  When he was brought to the office on the previous day, he was as black as a sweep, and had no other covering but a sort of gown made of calico.  He had kept him in the office during the night; but the father had on one or two previous occasions told him (Mr. Sawley) that he was unable to take care of the boy.

Mr Brownsworth, one of the relieving officers, was in court; and after some conversation, Mr. Maude directed the at the boy should be at once taken to the office of the guardians, and some arrangements made for his being taken care of in future. (Hull Packet and East Riding Times)

The Manchester Times version of the story, see below, adds Mr. Brownsworth had pulled the boy out of the canal on one occasion.  What became of William, for whom we can only feel sympathy, I am not sure.  I could not find him in our – incomplete – annual reports of the Old Trafford school, where pupils are listed by name.  In 1851, it would appear that he was in the workhouse in Manchester, New Bridge Street (though he is not marked as ‘deaf’ there, I am confidant it is this William Moody).  Perhaps he died young, perhaps he got some help, but I rather suspect not.  He would have been very difficult to take in hand by the time he was eight, having been allowed to become a ‘feral’ child.

If you can track William after that, please leave a comment below.

Above, the story as it appeared in The Manchester Times.Idiot Boy

Manchester Times (Manchester, England), Wednesday, June 6, 1849; Issue 62.

The Morning Post (London, England), Thursday, June 07, 1849; pg. 8; Issue 23557

The Blackburn Standard (Blackburn, England), Wednesday, June 13, 1849; Issue 752

The Hull Packet and East Riding Times (Hull, England), Friday, June 8, 1849

1841 Census – Class: HO107; Piece: 573; Book: 7; Civil Parish: Manchester; County: Lancashire; Enumeration District: 14; Folio: 25; Page: 3; Line: 9; GSU roll: 438725

1851 Census – Class: HO107; Piece: 2227; Folio: 205; Page: 4

1851 Census – William junior – Class: HO107; Piece: 2229; Folio: 834; Page: 14

1861 Census – Class: RG 9; Piece: 2892; Folio: 26; Page: 46; GSU roll: 543046

1871 Census – Class: RG10; Piece: 3974; Folio: 130; Page: 22; GSU roll: 846087

Manchester marriages Reference Number GB127.M403/6/3/19

The National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Lunacy Patients Admission Registers; Class: MH 94; Piece: 27

UPDATED: Apologies for my atrocious typing – I managed 6 typos in the above blog, now corrected I hope!?

“several times the light flickered and went out” – John Thorpe and the Huddersfield Deaf Mission

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 3 November 2017

Unlike some of his comtemporaries in the Deaf community, John Thorpe (1843-99) does not appear to have led a particularly interesting or spectacular life, rather one of diligent work and cheerful friendliness, as we see in his brief obituary in the British Deaf Monthly.  Having lost his hearing aged fifteen or sixteen, young John Thorpe soon became well known in the local deaf community, helping the Leeds missioner Mr. Foulstone when he visited Huddersfield, introducing him to local Deaf people.  He lost his regular warehouseman job as a consequence of his hearing loss, but did manage to get work still with for example Schwann, Kell & Co., and later George Brook & Co. (Hudderfield Daily Chronicle).

He was also, we are told, in at the start of the local Huddersfield Mission.  “The new mission had a fluctuating existence in the early days; several times the light flickered and went out.”  Eventually a meeting in the Queen Street Assembly Rooms  got the mission going on a regular basis, with a home taken in the Wellington Buildings, with fifteen to twenty regulars (British Deaf Monthly and Hudderfield Daily Chronicle).  Thorpe was at the heart of this work, spending his own money “without thought of recompense” (British Deaf Monthly).  He helped send local children to the Doncaster School, while others he educated himself locally.  “[H]e has with the devoted help of one of the best of wives, entirely spent his time, heart and soul, night and day, to teaching and preaching and visiting” (Hudderfield Daily Chronicle).

At some point the mission separated from Leeds, I am not sure exactly when.  When Thorpe lost his job as a warehouseman through a strike, he became a paid missionary in Huddersfield, until his death after a long illness in 1899.  In his last years he was also beset by failing eyesight.  His wife took over the mission work.

At his funeral in Huddersfield cemetery, the “sorrow of the deaf, for whom there was no interpreter of the Rev. A.W. Keely’s funeral discourse, was expressed for them by one of themselves, Mr. Crowther; and each, as a last tribute, dropped a bouquet of homely flowers on the coffin of their departed friend” (British Deaf Monthly).

john thorpe

1851 Census – Class: HO107; Piece: 2319; Folio: 38; Page: 27; GSU roll: 87542-87544 [Possibly him]

1871 Census – Class: RG10; Piece: 4369; Folio: 89; Page: 45; GSU roll: 848086

1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 4382; Folio: 78; Page: 20; GSU roll: 1342046

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 3566; Folio: 62; Page: 7; GSU roll: 6098676

The Late Mr John Thorpe. British Deaf Monthly, 1899 vol. 9, p.7

Hudderfield Daily Chronicle 30/08/1899 p.3 – this seems to be the source for the BDM article.