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Archive for the 'International Deaf' 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 led 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]

 

Alan Pole Allsebrook, Deaf, art student, fruit farmer, Canadian (1880-1976)

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 2 November 2018

Alan Pole Allsebrook was born in Wollaton, Nottinghamshire on the 26th of May, 1880.  His father was a farmer.  Alan lost his hearing aged six due to scarlet fever (Berg, 2017).  From Silent World we can say that he was educated “at Mr. Green’s Deaf School in Nottingham, afterwards going to Northampton, and thence studying art under Professor Sir H. von Herkomer, R.A., at Bushey, and at the Académie Julian.  By ‘Northampton’ we must suppose that is Spring Hill School, where the Re. Thomas Arnold had taught.  I would suppose H.N. Dixon was headmaster when Allsebrook was there. 

Nowell Berg tells us, I would suppose based on information from Alan’s daughter Naomi Miller, that he got a certificate in teaching at Nottingham School of Art, before going to Paris to study art, and then working on Liverpool Cathedral.  The Roe article tells us that he was a pupil of Sir Hubert von Herkomer, and that after his time in Paris he worked for a firm of ecclesiastical sculptors as a partner.   If we add those three sources together it makes sense, and we might suppose he was at art school from circa 1895 to 7 perhaps, then at Bushey, then in Paris.  In the 1901 census he was staying with his brother, Arthur, who was a barrister, in Inner Temple, where Alan was described as an art student.

He was certainly acquainted with the community of Deaf young men who formed the National Deaf Club, though I am not sure whether he was a member.  He must have know M.S. Fry as he was a regular contributor to The Silent World, the Fry-edited magazine that lasted from 1909 to 1910 before being absorbed into The British Deaf Times.  Allsebrook wrote a series of articles about his cycling holiday in France, and other articles such one entitled ‘Idling in Devon’ (The Silent World, 1910 p.85-7).

This article, A Deaf Art Student in Paris (Silent World, Vol 1 p.3-7), is written as Jules de Languedoc, but it is pretty clear to me that it is AllsebrookIt gives us a vivid picture of the life of a poor student.  From that we know it was ten years since he left, so he must have been there in about 1899.

In 1911 Allsebrook emigrated to British Columbia, “to try his luck in fruit farming” (Roe, p.220)

After sixteen weary days and nights of travelling, I landed at Nelson. It is a delightful little town of 8,50o inhabitants, and has some good shops and cosy houses, all built of wood. I was only there for two-and-a-half days, however, for the very first man I called upon, the morning after my arrival, took me on at his apple ranch at Kaslo, forty miles higher up the lake.

I was introduced to Carl Johansen, a Swede, who worked on the farm. We soon got to business, pruning and spraying six acres of apple trees. My first night’s sleep in my little ‘shack’ was somewhat restless, owing to the antics of a little squirrel who had got in and was squatting on the eaves over my head, regarding me curiously with his bright little eyes. Then I was rather cold ; and I might well be, for I found on getting up in the morning six inches of snow on the ground, the ice in my wash-basin one inch thick, and the contents of my kettle a solid block of ice.

There is one great discomfort here. The air is so dry that gloves are a sine qua non in working out-of-doors. Just imagine an English nurseryman in gloves! At first I set to work gaily, enough with bare hands, but in a few days every finger-tip and some of the joints cracked and oozed blood.

It is just a month since the door of my little ‘shack’ on the mountain side was pushed open one night as I was baking potatoes on the stove, when in walked my boss, and behind him showed my brother’s cheery, strong, brown face, just arrived from England. That was the end of my ‘hitching’—doing for your-self in a ‘shack ‘—for the time being, for within five days my brother had taken a rapid but thorough survey of all the likely lands round Nelson, and bought a lovely two-acre apple ranch, cleared and planted, at Balfour.

At his request I gave up my berth to go and spend the summer with him, helping him to knock his place into shape and get a house built. We saw on the plot many beautiful birds and magnificent butterflies, three to six inches across. By the way, we have not had any shooting yet, but the surveyor of Kaslo ran against two bears on the mountain side a week ago, but, not having his gun, he hurried away. Small blame to him, for these bears arc as big as a cart-horse. It is strange to see the people at church in unimaginable clothes and a dozen dogs sitting quietly by their owners.

Then, as to letters, they only come three times a week. Lord Aylmer has a ranch not very far from here. I intend that Kaslo shall be my future home, and have purchased a ranch on the lake front, which appears to me to be an ideal spot, surrounded as it is by beautiful scenery, and dotted all about the hills with rich, beautiful orchards of the finest fruit trees.

It is glorious! Soft, green leaves, bushes of roses of every size and hue, sweet-peas, pansies and violets, snapdragon and clematis, and creepers of all kinds. Below, the sparkling blue water ; and above, crag, forest, and peak of snow. Yes, you must look far round the world, and far east and west across this wonderful Canada, to find a fairer spot than Kaslo.

It certainly looks very beautiful!

Berg tells us that Alan and his youngest brother Eric were drafted in World War 1.  Alan returned to England in 1916, arriving at Liverpool on the 28th of May.  It is interesting if that is the case, as almost all Deaf people were excluded from serving when their deafness was discovered, however perhaps the Canadian forces (generally more meritocratic that the British Army) put him into some non-combat role – if he served with them?  I could not find any mention of him in online military records, but they are far from complete.

On a trip back to Britain, he met a friend of his sister Dorothy, Lucie Naomi Smith, and they got married and returned to Canada (Berg, 2017).

He lived to the age of 96, dying in Nelson, British Columbia, on the 17th of December, 1976.  We might say he had a long and fruitful life.

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 2671; Folio: 145; Page: 4

1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 264; Folio: 104; Page: 13

1916 – Board of Trade: Commercial and Statistical Department and successors: Inwards Passenger Lists.; Class: BT26; Piece: 623

1924 – Board of Trade: Commercial and Statistical Department and successors: Inwards Passenger Lists.; Class: BT26; Piece: 761

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/188709766/alan-pole-allsebrook

Berg, Nowell, Histories Historian: The Story of Naomi Miller. The Village Buzz, August 2017 Issue 201 http://wasalake.com/News/TVB-08-2017.pdf

Roe, W.R., Peeps into the Deaf World, 1917

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

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 28 September 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I include a few of these references here:

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

L Educazione (Nov 1911)

Rivista di Pedagogia Emendatrice, 1911 no.7

World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Notwithstanding the importance attached to gesture-language by the teachers of the Combined Method, they do not teach it” – Zenas Westervelt

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 6 July 2018

We have a small collection of original annual reports for various United States Deaf Institutions from the 19th century.  There is for example a run for the Clarke School from the first report in 1867 all the way to 1961.  There are some shorter runs and odd volumes or single reports.  Here we have the Rochester, Western New York Institution for Deaf Mutes, Thirteenth Annual Report for 1890.

At that time the principal was Zenas Freeman Westervelt (1849-1918).  Born in Columbus, Ohio, Westervelt‘s New York born mother mother Martha Freeman was matron of the Ohio Institution, and he grew up there, so we must suppose he was very familiar with sign language – or gesture as he calls it.  He became a teacher of the Deaf in the Maryland School (1871-3), before moving to the New York Institution (1873-5) (American Annals of the Deaf, 1918 p.226).  In New York he was one of “five bright young teachers under Dr. Isaac Peet, who later became principals or superintendents and of whom Dr. Westervelt was the last survivor” (ibid.).

Westervelt had been gathering names of Deaf children in western New York state who were not in school, and Mrs. Gilman Perkins, who had a Deaf daughter Carolyn, and asked Westervelt to start a school there (1872).

He chose to use the manual alphabet, spelling English, as the medium of instruction –

to the exclusion of the sign language […] thus placing the pupils in a constant environment of the English language.  He was also an advocate of oral teaching. (ibid. p.227).

In the thirteenth Annual Report for the school, Westervelt wrote an article called The American Vernacular Method (p.43-60) as he termed it.  He discusses what he calls The American Combined Method, and how it used –

the language of gesture, and the idea of the idea of the combination is that through this medium the attempt shall be made to teach English composition and reading, dactylology, speech and speech-reading on the lips, and aural apprehension.[…]

Notwithstanding the importance attached to gesture-language by the teachers of the Combined Method, they do not teach it; that is, there is no systematic instruction looking to the mastery of the language by the little deaf child.  The teachers, however, use it to the little ones, expecting them to understand; the older pupils use it with the same confidence that the children will learn its meaning through use, as it is the vernacular of the Combined-Method schools. […] One not familiar with the work of the profession might be justified in asking,: at what grade in the Combined-Method schools is the limit (p.47-8)

He develops his argument, and I cannot do justice to it so include the whole of this, the first of two articles (1890 and 1891?).  I suppose the second part is in the following annual report – unfortunately we do not have that.

His relationship with sign language is complex.  He does not appear to have been anti sign language, indeed he call it “ingenius [sic],” and says of De l’Epee that “What he accomplished was giving to the deaf signs for ideas, words, which they could readily use and comprehend” (ibid. p.48-9).  Yet he says gesture is more restrictive in expression and vocabulary, and that (p.52) “No books have been written in gesture.”  Further on, he says-

Yet when the educated gesturer is compared with the deaf mute as he was before the invention of the gesture-language of De l’Epee, the incalculable good that it has accomplished  is manifest.  Under the circumstances which prevailed during the early years of deaf mute instruction, when those admitted to the schools were adults or fully grown youths, and the time allowed at institutions was but four years, there was doubtless need of gesture language.

It seems clear that he did not mean oral education – “the following summary of the reasons which have led me to oppose the “Combined Method,” which teaches through “signs,” also the “German Method,” which teaches through speech” (p.45).  What he wanted was for Deaf children to acquire English and an ability to read and write English using the manual alphabet – finger spelling – later called the Rochester Method.  “It were better for every child who is to spend his life among the American people that he should be brought up an American and not a foreigner.”  He wanted Deaf children to fit into American life and language as immigrants did – or at least as some did if you read the footnotes in his article (see page 60 particularly).

Presumably in that second part he explains his attitude to the “German Method,” and then his system.  There must be copies of all these reports in U.S. libraries.  Perhaps if someone comes across it they could scan it and make it available online.

From 1892 passport records we know Westervelt had at that time brown hair, an aquiline nose, grey eyes, a square chin, and was 5′ 8″ tall.  He was twice married, firstly in 1875 to Mary H. Nodine (died 1893) then in 1898 to Adelia C. Fay, whose son Edmund he adopted.  He died of heart failure on 17th of February, 1918.

As to how anyone could have lip-read him with that beard, we cannot hazard a guess.

Obituary, American Annals of the Deaf, 1918 Vol.53 (2) p.226-7

Padden, C. and Gunsauls, D.C., How the Alphabet Came to Be Used in a Sign Language. Sign Language Studies vol.4 (1) 2003

Westervelt, Z.F., The American Vernacular method, (p.43-60) in Thirteenth Annual Report of the Western New York Institution for Deaf Mutes, 1890

1860 Census – Year: 1860; Census Place: Columbus Ward 3, Franklin, Ohio; Roll: M653_964; Page: 127; Family History Library Film: 803964

1900 Census – Year: 1900; Census Place: Rochester Ward 17, Monroe, New York; Page: 1; Enumeration District: 0137

1910 Census – Year: 1910; Census Place: Rochester Ward 17, Monroe, New York; Roll: T624_992; Page: 16B; Enumeration District: 0159; FHL microfilm: 1375005

Passport Records – National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 396; Volume #: Roll 396 – 24 Jun 1892-29 Jun 1892

Frances M. Parsons – Sound of the Stars

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 8 June 2018

Frances Margaret Parsons and Hester West Parsons were deaf twins from El Cajon, California. They were born in 1923 and it was not realized that they were deaf until they were five, or perhaps they lost their hearing aged five (see links at end).  The sisters were sent to the State School for the Deaf at Berkeley, but their father lost his job in the depression.  Their mother, Hester Tancre Parsons, missed her daughters who were boarding, and conceived a plan to move the family to Tahiti, which they did in 1935.

When she was fifteen, Frances began to keep a journal which was published in 1971 as Sound of the Stars.  The book covers the last two years on Tahiti, from the outbreak of war until their return to the U.S.A. in January 1941.  The book is full of strange and quirky characters, locals and colonials, and has line drawings in the text.

Back in California they finished their schooling, then Frances married in 1945 and then had two daughters.  She eventually completed a B.A. in Art History, which she then taught at Gallaudet.  Something went on there in the late 1980s between her and colleagues that meant she was “terminated from the position in 1988 and filed a grievance, followed by a civil suit.” (See here)

She travelled widely around the world, and describes in the preface of her book I Didn’t Hear the Dragon Roar (1988) how she was being mugged in Maputo when one of the muggers realized she was deaf he told her he had a deaf sister, and then he helped her up and returned her purse.

It seems that when she was asked to lecture in Argentina and other parts of the world, she realized that oralism was the dominant educational form and that inspired her to travel and encourage manual education (see here).  In her late 70s she had a cochlear implant, and this website says “Parsons never back down from her belief that fluency in English was the key to success in educating deaf children.”  Whatever had happened at Gallaudet in the 1980s was clearly forgiven enough for her to leave a large collection of papers to the college in her will.

She died when she was struck by a vehicle while walking her dog, in 2013, aged 90.

If you have a link to a proper obituary please comment below.

http://www.vad.org/Frances_Parsons_Lecture.html

http://videocatalog.gallaudet.edu/?video=13538

http://www.gallaudet.edu/archives-and-deaf-collections/collections/manuscripts/mss-207

Madras, India (by Frances Parsons)

“deaf as he was, and deafer than he really was” – İsmet İnönü’s diplomatic skill – turning off his hearing aid

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 11 May 2018

İsmet İnönü (1884-1973), the Turkish delegate at the Armistice of Mudanya, and later representative in negotiations for the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, had hearing loss.  He became Prime Minister of Turkey and President. He had been a gunnery officer, so I wonder if his hearing loss was related to that.  Among other things, The Times for the 18th of November, 1922, said of him, “His reputation during the Great War was that of a safe, hard-working, rather cautious Staff Colonel, deaf, and consequently short-tempered, and a terror to slack or casual subordinates.”

At any rate, during the negotiations at Lausanne, in what Cleveland calls “a classic in the annals of international diplomacy” it seems that when Lord Curzon spoke, İsmet would turn off his hearing aid, and only turn it back on afterwards, restating his original position “as though the British Foreign Secretary had never uttered a word”  (Cleveland, chapter 10, 2016).

Later, Sir Charles Harington, in a speech quoted indirectly in The Times said,

Referring to Chanak and the Mudania Conference, Sir Charles said it was a near thing, but there were three factors in the problem. The greatest factor was Lord Curzon himself in Paris; the nextwas the splendid body of reinforcements sent to him; and the other was the friendship he formed, after the fifth day at Mudania, with General Ismet Pasha. It was quite safe to say that, difficult as Ismet Pasha was, deaf as he was, and deafer than he really was (laughter), they had made great friends. (The Times, 21st of November, 1923)

He is second from the left in this photo of the Turkish Mudanya delegation, from a postcard in our collection, where Selwyn Oxley noted Ismet Pasha (an honorary title) was deaf.

It would be interesting to know where his hearing aid came from, as I have no idea how many manufacturers were making them at that time.  If you can add anything about his hearing loss, please do in the comment field below.

William L. Cleveland, Martin Bunton, A History of the Modern Middle East (6th ed. 2016)

The Times (London, England), Saturday, Nov 18, 1922; pg. 11; Issue 43192

The Times (London, England), Wednesday, Nov 21, 1923; pg. 11; Issue 43504

Weeding brings happy discoveries… International Games for the Deaf

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 2 February 2018

We are in the process of weeding our grey literature collection for the Action on Hearing Loss part of the collection.  There is a wealth of good material, but it is hidden beneath a mountain of old photocopies of articles, mostly of dubious worth to our holdings.  At one time the library catered many groups of people who were unable to use an academic library, so we had speech therapists as well as ENT doctors and teachers of the Deaf using the material.   The Ear Institute part of our Library covers ENT fully and comprehensively, while UCL’s Language and Speech Science Library covers speech and language, and the Institute of Education covers, well, education!  Therefore the Action on Hearing Loss collection focuses on Audiology, Sign Language, Deafness and related areas.

The sort of things we are removing are broadly old and never consulted articles about, among other things, aphasia, stuttering and speech problems, and voice, dating from the 1950s to the 1980s.  Many of these are online now, or held in print form elsewhere.  In the process we are making happy discoveries, and we will gather some of the historical items into archive boxes to better preserve them.

As examples of what we have found, material that was indexed on the card catalogue but would have been hard to search for by topic, in 1958 George E. Robinson, Superintendent of Liverpool Adult Deaf and Dumb Benevolent Society, donated programmes for four International Games for the Deaf, London (1935), Stockholm (1939), Brussels (1953), and Milan (1957).   These will now be put into an archive box together.

Top, the reverse of the Brussels programme, next the London programme showing the Prince of Wales who was patron of the games, then football teams in 1953 and the cover of the Brussels programme.

 

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)

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/deaf-hear-russia-like-it-really-is-sign-language-moves-with-times-1427249.html

“in silence is his body born again” – Muted Voices – Romanian writer Eugen Relgis

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 15 December 2017

In Glasuri in surdină, translated in 1938 as Muted Voices, Romanian writer Eugen Relgis wrote a memoir that in style seems more like a novel.  Our copy is beatifully printed and bound with expressive woodcut engravings by the French artist and anarchist, Louis Moreau and translated by Rose Freeman-Ishill.  Our central character is Miron, who is we might suppose Eugen himself.  He describes the children playing leap-frog:

The child-frog falls and strikes his head against a stone.  He is not hurt but his suffering weeps and cries, naive and exaggerated.  Miron caresses him with one with the remorse of one who has caused an involuntary ill.  “Be silent, Ermil, be silent” – and his hand gently glides over the lump on the other’s forehead- “Be silent, it will pass away… I will give you my little wooden horse…”

Ermil, appeased, dries his tears.  Miron, touched, kisses him upon moist lips.

And, at the moment of the kiss, Miron’s fate is sealed.  Oh ! occult forces, inexorable laws indifferent to all the tenderness, all the beauty of the human heart!  The demons have shattered their joy!  A kiss, a simple childish kiss, an altogether natural kiss of affection…

And evil  spirits have taken possession of Miron! […] the invisible germ of Disease. (p.19)

His description of illness and ‘Disease,’ make it seem like the struggles of a writhing beast –

and the carnivorous animals lodged within the body gnaw and claw and rend. […] The body bends like a bow and the blasphemies of dearth seethe in the skull.  The waves make their weight particularly felt in the ears which are filled with whistlings and where cascades thunder and fall…  A howling like a cataclysmic eruption, the howling of life who would not be annihilated… and the eardrums burst beneath that pressure. (p.23)

It is a powerful and strange writing style. He ends the chapter with poetic prose-
And the child regards the silence, – and the child
breathes the silence – and his life palpitates in
silence, – in silence is his body born again, –
in the umbrageous refuge of silence…

Silence… silence… silence…

A complex and fascinating man, Relgis was born into a Jewish family in Romania in 1895, as Eisig D. Sigler, though he used various spellings of his surname and the name Eugen/Eugene.  He was a part of the Romanian Symbolist movement, and although he trained as an architect he became a writer and publisher.  Politically he was an anarchist, but he also had what now seem quite extreme eugenicist views, saying “Instead of natural selection, man should practice rational selection.”  (see his Wikipedia page)
He died in Uruguay in 1987

The Gallaudet website, in a review of the anthology of deaf writers Angels and outcasts : an anthology of deaf characters in literature (1985), has this interesting comment on Miron:

Relgis’ hero, while not unique, is not really representative of the deaf majority. The deaf Steppenwolf, the lone deaf outsider, is rarely encountered in real life in the United States. In Europe and elsewhere, for historical reasons there exists a sharp cleavage between deaf intellectuals and artists and the deaf man in the street, so that there such outsiders account for a much larger proportion of the deaf population.

The book, and Relgis, are both worthy of closer inspection.

Relgis, Eugen, Muted Voices, New Jersey (1938)

http://militants-anarchistes.info/spip.php?article5046&lang=fr

First Deaf Person on TV in Britain – “Topsy,” or Eileen Guy, from Central Asia (ca.1914-1998)

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 29 September 2017

Scanned from a Xerox Multifunction Printer (00A)In the early part of the 20th century, three bold and independent women made a name for themselves as the ‘Trio’ of missionaries in the far east of China, in Gansu.  They were Mildred Cable (1878-1952), and the two sisters, Evangeline French (1869-1960) and Francesca French (1871-1960).  They travelled widely in the deserts and moutains of that region, attempting to convert local people.  One day they heard a ‘tap, tap tap’ at the door, and it was a young child of six or seven nicknamed ‘Gwa Gwa,’ that is ‘little lonely’ (Cable & French p. 9-14).  The girl was deaf, the daughter of a Tibetan mother and a Mongol chief.  She had been fostered, then the foster mother sold her when she discovered she was deaf.  She was then sent out to beg (ibid p.19-22).  The Trio bought her freedom, and changed her name to Ai Lien, meaning ‘Love Bond.’  The three missionary ladies called her Topsy for some reason.  After some difficulties with one of the warlords in the area, they eventually escaped to Urumchi, then Chuguchak.  Topsy mapTo get through Russia, they had to give Ai Lien a British name and passport, so they anglicized it to Eileen with the surname Guy as one of the three, the ‘Blue Lady’ as she is called in the book, had the Chinese surname Gai.  Eventually they had permission to cross Russia, and they arrived back in England, where they divided their time between living in Dorset and Watford.  Once in England she started to get an oral education (p.123-4)

The French sisters died within a short time of each other in 1960, leaving Eileen a comfortable inheritance.

According to one of our old library index cards from Selwyn and Kate Oxley, Topsy was the first Deaf person to be on television in Britain, with the Trio, at Alexandra Palace.  That would have been before the war.  It may be that the BBC archives could confirm that.

I have not discovered whether Eileen/Topsy had any contact with the Deaf community in Britain – I did not see an obituary in the British Deaf News.  She died in 1998 in Penge.  If anyone knew her, please do comment below.topsy 1

“Former Slave Girl Benefits In Wills.” Times [London, England] 27 Sept. 1960: 4. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 29 Sept. 2017

Cable, M., and French, Fr., The Story of Topsy, (1937, reprinted 1957)

http://hucandgabetbooks.blogspot.co.uk/2010/10/women-of-gobi-journeys-on-silk-road.html