A A A

Archive for the 'International Deaf' Category

“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

The application of Mao Tse-Tung thought to the treatment of Deaf Mutes

By Alex P Stagg, on 8 September 2017

We have among our collections a curious assortment of grey literature that we conservatively name the C collection, a collection of miscellaneous material. A few examples taken at random:

C439: Elizabeth Wootton & Cris Lewis, ‘A work preparation course for deaf young people’, in Careers Bulletin (Spring 1981)
C4406: Hugo Zuccarelli, ‘Ears hear by making sounds’, in New Scientist (10 November 1983)
C588: Anon, ‘The mutes regain their speech’, in China Reconstructs (February 1972)

This last is perhaps among the most curious items we possess. It details an episode from the Chinese Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in which a barely educated medical orderly – Chao Pu-yu – applied Mao Tsetung Thought to the treatment of deaf-mutes with, it seems, great success. (Deaf-mute is used throughout the article, and is used here without any desire to offend but to replicate the language used at the time.) On the surface it is a tale of the universal applicability of Mao’s thought, together with acupuncture, but beneath the surface can be discerned currents outside the realm of medicine as we read briefly of Chao’s objection to the counter-revolutionary line for medical and health work promoted by Liu Shao-chi. Liu Shao-chi, better known now as Liu Shaoqi, was until the late 1960s a very prominent member of the Chinese Communist Party.

Inspired by the criticism of Liu he heard, Chao learnt acupuncture, practicing on himself. His early successes included treating an old worker, Wang Kuei, who suffered from arthritis; and before long Chao was ready to treat more serious conditions. In 1967 Chao and comrades formed a Mao Tsetung Thought team, to spread the Great Helmsman’s ideas. But this was not an autonomous team: in March 1968 the ‘medical propaganda team’ was ordered to a school for deaf-mutes in the city of Liaoyuan. As soon as they arrived, a young girl – Wang Ya-chin – drew Chao’s attention to a picture of Mao. She wanted to say ‘Long live Chairman Mao’ but was only able to manage a strained ‘Ah…’. The entire episode is reminiscent of the worst excesses of a Stalinist personality cult, where the project seems less focussed on returning hearing and speech to deaf-mutes and rather more about giving a new voice to the choir of praise for Mao.

Inspired by Mao’s teachings – for example ‘The people with real personal knowledge are those engaged in practice the world over’ – Chao and his comrades determined that there were no incurable cases, simply cases refused treatment. As befits political revolutionaries, Chao and his team went beyond the boundaries of earlier acupuncture, thrusting the needles deeper than 5 fen, a measure in acupuncture treatment, the point acupuncturists felt would endanger the patient’s life. Previous generations, the article notes, had been limited by the level of scientific development of their time. It was with this as their guiding principle that they achieved the dramatic results of restoring speech and hearing to deaf-mutes. Chao declared: “We proletarian revolutionaries want to relieve our class brothers of their suffering. We must go forward. We must not be stopped by the belief that 5 fen is the ultimate limit’.

Chao tried the new, deeper, insertions on himself. He refused to feel fear, reminding himself his experiments were in the service of the people and he was carrying out Chairman Mao’s line for medical and health work. Pushing the needles deeper and deeper Chao gained the results he had been looking for and shared the news with his comrades. China Reconstructs reports that the application of the new treatment to Wang Ya-chin returned speech to her: after fifteen years of silence she could once again speak.

Although the article states that in the three years after Chao’s breakthrough deaf-mutes across China received treatment, it does not go into specifics about numbers or supply further information.

Sadly the trail goes cold. A 1972 pamphlet, Exploring the Secrets of Treating Deaf-Mutes, is available online at: https://archive.org/details/ExploringTheSecretsOfTreatingDeaf-mutes, and there’s a 1977 article, Andrew Sutton’s ‘Acupuncture and deaf-mutism’ (Educational Studies 3:1 (1977)) which examines the claims made. Chao Pu-yu’s fate is a mystery: but if any readers know what happened to him, please let us know.

Ed Lyon

“Far away in heathen lands” -Rosetta Sherwood Hall & Pyong Yang Deaf School (1909)

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 7 July 2017

Rosetta Sherwood Hall was born Rosetta Sherwood in New York state in 1865.  She married a Canadian Doctor, Rev. William James Hall, M. D. and travelled with him to Korea in 1894.  He died not long after, of Typoid fever.  Not dissuaded from missionary work, she returned with her children in 1897.  At first she worked with a blind girl, Pongnai, but later in 1909 began teaching deaf children together with blind children.

The quotation below, from her article in Silent Worker, was reprinted from The Christian Herald.  The tone of the article reflects the zeal of the missionary age – as the title of one book has it, “How you gonna get to Heaven if you can’t talk with Jesus.”  The Deaf (and blind) are neglected in the fight to gain souls, and they need language in order to understand the ‘word of god’.

Far away in heathen lands, one of the trials of the Christian missionary is to realize his limitations in meeting and relieving not only the spiritual mental and moral dearth, but the physical defects and distress that press and depress upon every side.
The condition of the blind and of deaf-mutes of Korea is truly pitiable; the latter are considered imbeciles, while the former are never taught anything useful, but become fortune-tellers or vile sorcerers if their parents are well enough to do to have them thus trained; otherwise they are often neglected […]
There are several thousand deaf-mutes in Korea for whom the mysteries of life are fought with the animal instincts only; they have souls but do not know it; they live in a perpetual silence which the voice of no regular evangelist can ever penetrate. (Hall, Silent Worker, 1910)

She left Korea in 1933, and died in 1951.

The photos here are photographs of photographs, very small in the originals, no doubt used by Selwyn Oxley in a lantern slide show on Deafness.  I scanned at the best resolution I could – as usual, click on the image for a larger size.  We see Mrs Hall as the lady with glasses in the top image, and as the only woman on the other image.  Quite who the men are I do not know – Japanese military?  If you know please comment.

Hall, Rosetta Sherwood, The Deaf and Blind in Korea, Silent Worker, 1910  vol 23 no. 10 p.186 and 202

http://www.retina.co.kr/ver2/index.php?board=retina02_01&menu=2&btype=2&menu_sub=2_1&prc=view&num=292