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Archive for the 'Sign Language' Category

Merry Yule to all – from Finlands Dövstum-förbund 1918

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 21 December 2018

In 1909 the Finlands Dövstum-förbund produced the first of their special ‘Jul’ – ‘Yule’ – editions.  This was a Swedish language journal.  Finland has a large Swedish population, having been a part of Sweden for hundreds of years. Below is the cover from 1918, & below that an article on the sign counting system used, from the 1909 issue.  It was developed partly from foreign example, by the first teacher of the Deaf in Finland, himself deaf, Carl Oscar Malm (1826-63).

I hope to write about him at greater length next year.  If the fates allow!
Dövstummas Jul 1909-29

Deaf Chess Player, Missioner, & Teacher, Leigh Hossell (1867-1907) -“to get the best out of, and make the most of, life notwithstanding affliction”

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 30 November 2018

Leigh Hossell (1867-1907) was one of at least ten children born to John Hossell and his wife Ann.  His father was a fellmonger, a dealer in hides, particularly sheepskin.  This illustration of a Fellmonger is from T. J. Watson’s 1857 book, An Illustrated Vocabulary for the use of the Deaf and Dumb, published by the S.P.C.K.

He told friends that while his parents thought he had lost his hearing at the age of four by an ‘attack of sunstroke,’ he thought that he was born deaf (BDM, 1894).  He did “not remember ever having been able to hear and speak, and his friends appear to have no recollection of having heard him speak at any time” (ibid). However, in his obituary it was said that later “he recovered the power of speech to some extent” (BDT, 1907).  We may well wonder if his parents were correct, but perhaps this speech was as a result of his education.  When he was seven (around 1874) Leigh became a private pupil of Mr. Hopper, at the Edgbaston School, Birmingham.

Up to the age of fifteen he received his education by the silent system. It was whilst at the Birmingham school that Mr. Hossell first took a liking to the fascinating game of chess, to which he has devoted much time and attention ever since. (BDM)

When Hopper died, his parents placed him as a private pupil with Mr. Bessant at Manchester, who taught him using the oral system.

On the completion of his education he was appointed pupil teacher at the Old Trafford Schools for the Deaf, Manchester, and is at the present time a teacher at these schools.
As Mr. Hossell owes his education to both systems, we thought his opinion as to which he considered the best would prove of interest to our readers. In answer to our questions, Mr. Hossell said :— “Until I obtained a knowledge of the oral system I naturally thought the silent one the best possible means of instructing the deaf, but since then I have come to feel that all the deaf who can be taught to speak and lip-read should have that great advantage. At home I am able to make myself entirely intelligible by speech, and can follow very well all that is said to me by my friends and relations by lip-reading. When travelling and shopping, too, I find my speech of real assistance. I should indeed be sorry not to be able to speak and lip-read now. At the same time I feel that the silent system must be retained for some of the deaf, but I should like to see them use spelling more freely than they do, in place of signs.” (BDM)

Hossell represented the Droitwich Workman’s Club at chess, and was good enough to play Joseph Blackburne, “the Black Death”, and English champion, “whom he won a game from, about two years ago” which would mean around 1904/5 (BDM).  He was a keen sportsman, particularly with lawn tennis and croquet (BDT).

Hossell was a lay helper at the Grosvenor Street Institute for the Deaf, Manchester, and for a while was Missioner to the Deaf in Oxford, before he left to go into business (BDT).  Quite what the business was his obituary fails to tell us, but one brother was a solicitor so the family was not poor.

His funeral was held on October the 29th, 1907 at Handsworth Parish Church, in the town where he was born, by the Rev. R. R. Needham.

His obituary says, he “was in some respects a remarkable young man, considering his limitations.”  I suppose he means his deafness, but who can say.  He was

widely known and unversally esteemed, he endeared himself to all who knew him by his gracious manner and amiable disposition.  His private character was exemplary, and his personality was a most inyteresting one; in fact his career was a notable example of what can be done by the Deaf and Dumb in order to get the best out of, and make the most of, life notwithstanding affliction. […]  He could ill be spared and will be sadly missed.

Mr L. Hossell, (our Chess Editor), British Deaf Mute, 1894, Vol. 4, November, p.3

Obituary: Mr. Leigh Hossell, British Deaf Times, 1907, vol. 4 p.280

Montgomery County Times and Shropshire and Mid-Wales AdvertiserSaturday 12 December 1896 – (chess problem set by Leigh Hossell)

1871 Census – Class: RG10; Piece: 2972; Folio: 27; Page: 47; GSU roll: 838862

1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 2835; Folio: 125; Page: 16; GSU roll: 1341679

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 3160; Folio: 168; Page: 4

1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 2796; Folio: 24; Page: 40

A Chronological Survey of Measures Affecting the Deaf Person Especially in Great Britain to the early 1960s

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 24 August 2018

Finding some more older documents that I thought might be of interest, and lacking time for anything more original, we supply the following ‘chronology’ of Deaf history.  It may be that there are better versions of this elsewhere, and there are no sources given in the form of articles or books, but this might be a starting point for research.  For example, I have no idea what the evidence is for the first statement.  If I had to guess I would say this dates from the early 60s, perhaps 1964.  I hope to revisit this page to update its ‘note’ style and add some supporting information where possible, though I will leave it where it ends in the 60s.

1. First legal bases for education of deaf person during Jewish and Roman Times.

2. Beginnings of modern education in Spain; Ponce de Leon (1520-1584), Bonet and his book in 1620.

3. Development of two basic and apparently conflicting educational philosophies for deaf children established in Europe; de l’Epee (1712-1789) with sign language, and Heinicke (1729-1790) with oral education, in Paris and Leipzig respectively.

4. British work: Bulwer and his books “Chirologia” (1644) & “Philocophus” (1648) Wallis and Holder as first teachers, but not without considerable acrimony between them.  Braidwood and his family with their school, first in Edinburgh, then in London at Hackney, being the first organised program set up for deaf children. First public deaf “asylum” at Bermondsey by Watson, nephew of Braidwood (1792).

5. Growth of “asylums”: acceptance of fee paying of “parlour” pupils, proper medical attention, free meals, children admitted as early as 7 or 8 years onwards, but many at 13 or more, charitable background.

6. Scott in 1844 wrote “The deaf and dumb, their position in society, and their principles of their education considered.” Great emphasis on early parental training.

7. Donaldson’s Hospital opened in Edinburgh, 1850, with equal intake of hearing and deaf pupils of both sexes.

8. First nursery school in world for deaf  infants set up in Great Britain at Manchester 1860.  Ceased in 1884 because of need to provide additional space for education of older deaf children.

9. Development of missions for deaf adults. Glasgow 1827, Edinburgh 1835, Manchester 1850, others mostly in north of England in industrial areas.  In 1840 deaf adults in London set up a deaf church which in time became the R.A.A.D.D. (Rooyal Association in Aid of the Deaf and Dumb).  A free interchange of teachers and missioners became possible because of the frequent use of manual modes of communication in schools, thus first principal of Manchester nursery school formerly was Superintendent of Manchester Mission.  Missions at Derby and Preston responsible for formation of schools there in 1875’s and 1890’s respectively.

10. Milan Congress of 1880 – the 2nd International Conference of Teachers of the Deaf where very important resolutions affecting the “oral” education of deaf children were passed.

11. The Royal Commission of 1886-89 on the Blind, the Deaf, etc.

12. Development of “oral” v. “manual” controversy, first among teachers.  It spread to missioners when the original hopes of “oral” supporters were not always successful.  The introduction of examination requirements by the Association for the Oral Instruction of the Deaf & Dumb 1872; the Society for Training Teachers of the Deaf and for the diffusion of the German System 1877; the College of Teachers of the Deaf and Dumb 1885.  These diplomas were not recognised by the Board of Education till 1909, and then only after the three bodies came together in 1908 to form the “Joint Examination Board for Teachers of the Deaf” with a single diploma.

13. National Association of Teachers of the Deaf formed in 1895 as professional body and started Teacher of the Deaf in 1902 as its organ. The National College of Teachers of the Deaf formed in 1918 by merging the National Association of Teachers of the Deaf into the College of Teachers of the Deaf.  The Scottish Department of Education has however never recognised the College’s Diploma.

14. Formation of British Deaf and Dumb Association in 1890 to protest against the absence of deaf witnesses at Royal Commission.  It sent a petition to the King in 1902 with 2,671 signatures asking for the combined system of education.

15. Legislation: First educational work was financed by Poor Laws – money raised from local rates, from 1834 onwards.  Compulsory education was enforcable for hearing children in 1876.  Compulsory education for deaf children in Scotland with “Education of Blind and Deaf Mute Children (Scotland) Act” 1890, and in England with the “Elementary Education (Blind and Deaf Children) Act” 1893.  In the English Act, a deaf child was educated from its 7th to 16th birthday while a hearing child was educated from its 5th to 10th birthday (extended to 12 in 1900, and to 14 in 1921). Age for deaf child lowered to 5th birthday in 1937.  Permissive to educate as from 2nd birthday from 1920 onwards, and provision made for higher education in the 1902 Act but these clauses very seldom used.

16. Preparation for life in the community: The N.I.D. undertook inquiry for on the “Industrial conditions of the deaf and dumb.”  There were unsatisfactory findings despite the establishment of trade schools in Manchester in 1905 for boys and in 1923 for girls.  Eichholz prepared “A Study of the Deaf 1930-32.”  Clark and Crowden for the N.I D. and Department of Industrial Psychology prepared a survey on “Employment for the deaf in the United Kingdom” in 1939.  The results of all these surveys were considered very disturbing.

17. Donaldson’s Hospital ceased unusual Neducation scheme in 1938. From 1850 to 1938, a total of 3,185 children of whom 1,403 deaf, were educated there.

18. Awareness of the value of residual hearing (when present): efforts by physicians in the 18th C. to cure deafness.  Work of surgeons in the 19th C. to treat deafness but necessarily restricted to outer and middle ears. Work of Itard in Paris, and Urbanschitsch in Vienna who in early 1890’s developed methodical hearing exercises.  The collaboration of medical man and headmaster at Glasgow Institution in 1890 where Dr. Kerr Love found less than 10% pupils totally deaf, and over 25% heard loud speech. Establishment of partially deaf  classes from 1908 onwards.  The development of electrical and radio engineering in early 20th C. but application restricted to use in classroom only (cumbersome and inefficient equipment).

19. Medical Research Council set up in 1926 to supervise research On physiology of hearing. In addition to other work, M.R.C. encouraged the team work of the EwinEs and Littler in Department of Education of Deaf in Manchester (founded 1920).  The M.R.C. opened a clinic there in 1934 for the “study and relief of deafness.”  By 1935 use of group hearing aids was recommended for children in schools for deaf.

20. Strained relations between teachers and doctors on educational policies for children with defective hearing, especially between 1910 and 1925.

21. Committee of Inquiry into problems of “medical, educational and social aspects of… children suffering from defects not amounting to total deafness” Report published in 1938 and contained educational classification with Grades I, IIa, IIb, and III which are still used by certain authorities although essentially outdated.

22. Outbreak of hostilities in 1939 between various countries caused the cessation of work on deaf problems, apart from preliminary research in readiness for development of the MEDRESCO hearing aid for the new National Health Service (1948).

23. Considerable postwar legislative changes affecting the deaf person. See Table A.

24. Various important postwar reports on educational, psychological and social aspects of deaf person in United Kingdom. See Table B.

25. Great multiplicity of organisations involved specifically with the deaf person in Great Britain. See Table C.

26. Development of research units on problems of deafness:

(a) The Otological Research Unit, National Hospital for Nervous Diseases, London under Dr. Hallpike,

(b) The Wernher Research Unit on Deafness, King’s College Hospital Medical School London under Dr. T.S. Littler which ceased in 1965,

(c) Audiology Unit, Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital, London under the late Miss Edith Whetnall F.R.C.S.

(d) The Audiology Unit, Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading under Dr. K.P. Murphy.

In addition, there was research at the Department of Audiology and Education of the Deaf in Manchester.

27. Development of new categories of workers with deaf people.  In addition to traditional three categories of doctors, teachers and welfare workers, now there were psychologists, medical officers, audiology technicians, speech therapists, health visitors and school supervisors with special courses on deafness for each of them.

28. Development of electrical apparatus for hearing and speech, either as individual or group hearing aids or as visual aids.  Scanty British literature on education of deaf children, particularly on development of language.  A new training centre for teachers of deaf children opened in London in 1965.

29. Modification of educational philosophies in Great Britain.  Before the Second War, the emphasis was on “oral” techniques with a strong minority for “manual” techniques and a gradual realisation of value of “aural”techniques.  After the Second War there was a shift of emphasis from “oral techniques” to “aural techniques” in most schools or units.  A minority group now asked for “combined” rather than “manual” techniques, and becoming more vocal.  The B.D.D.A. sent a petition in 1954 with 5,000 signatures for the “combined” techniques to the Ministry of Education.  Increasing awareness of special problems of the small group of very deaf children, especially if with additional handicaps.  Weaknesses in present “oral” and “aural” techniques was more openly admitted.

30. Persisting attitudes towards the deaf person. Use of the term “deaf and dumb.”  The term “dumb” is synonymous with “not so quick on uptake” or mental deficiency in the U.S.A. and that usage was brought over to Great Britain.  Defective speech and limited vocabulary aggravated the situation.  For the term “hard of hearing,” no precise definition is possible. The introduction of the terms “Deaf” and “Partially Hearing” categories of deaf child, but the prevalent tendency for members of the public still to call them “deaf and dumb.”  See Table D

31. Present trends to watch: Units attached to ordinary schools, decline in residential schools, absence of vocational training or guidance in schools, greater emphasis on electrical amplifying apparatus for use at school or at home, ambiguity in educational and social status of “Partially hearing” pupil in community, the continued lack of closer co-operation between organisations or workers with or for the deaf person.

TABLE A
POSTWAR LEGISLATION WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO THE DEAF PERSON

(a) Disabled Persons (Employment) Acts, 1944 & 1958.

(b) Education Act, 1944.

(c) National Health Service Act, 1946.

(d) National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Act, 1946.

(e) Employment and Training Act, 1948.

(f) National Assistance Act, 1948.

TABLE B
SELECT LIST OF PUDLICATIONS WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO THE EDUCATIONAL, PSYCHOLOGICAL OR SOCIAL ASPECTS OF THE DEAF PERSON.

(a) 1945 Voluntary Organisations for the welfare of the deaf (IN Voluntary social services (their place in the modern state) Edited by Bourdillon, Methuen, London, 1945).  This chapter written by J.D. Evans.

(b) 1950 Pupils who are defective in hearing, HMSO, Edinburgh.

(c) 1954 The training and supply of teachers of handicapped pupils, HMSO, London

(d) 1956 The Piercy Report, HMSO, London.

(e) 1957 Care of the deaf, by J.B. Perry Robinson for the Deaf Children’s Society, London.

(f) 1958 The deaf school leaver in Northern England, by R.R. Drewry, mimeographed, Nuffield Foundation.

(g) 1959 The Younghusband Report, HMSO, London.

(h) 1960 Certain social and psychological difficulties facing the deaf person in the English community, by Pierre Gorman, Ph.D. Thesis Cambridge University.  1963 A report on a survey of deaf children who have been transferred from special schools or units to ordinary schools, HMSO, London. Also Annual Reports of the Department of Education and Ministry of Health. The “Health of the School Child” by the Chief Medical Officer of the Department of Education contains much valuable information.

TABLE C
ORGANISATIONS CONCERNED WITH THE DEAF PERSON (together with date of formation of original body)

(a) 1880 British Deaf and Dumb Association (now British Deaf Association)

(b) Early Council of Church Missioners to the Deaf and Dumb. 1900s

(c) 1911 National Institute for the Deaf (now Action on Hearing Loss)

(d) 1917 National College of Teachers of the Deaf.

(e) 1922 Central Advisory Council for the Spiritual Care of the Deaf and Dumb.

(f) 1928 Deaf Welfare Examination Board.

(g) 1943 British Association of Otolaryngologists.

(h) 1944 National Deaf Children’s Society.

(i) 1947 British Association for the Hard of Hearing.

(j) 1949 Association of Non Maintained Schools for the Deaf.

(k) 1950 Society of Audiology Technicians.

(l) 1952 National Council of Missioners and Welfare Officers to the Deaf.

(m) 1954 Association for Experiment in Deaf Education.

(n) 1958 Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists.

(o) 1959 Society of Teachers of the Deaf.

(p) 1959 Commonwealth Society for the Deaf.

TABLE D
CATEGORIES OF CHILDREN WITH DEFECTIVE HEARING CONSIDERED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AS REQUIRING SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL TREATMENT.

“DEAF PUPILS” are defined as “pupils who have no hearing or whose hearing is so defective that they require education by methods used for deaf pupils without naturally acquired speech or language.” (Definition unchanged since 1945).

“PARTIALLY DEAF PUPILS” were defined in 1945 as “pupils whose hearing is so defective that they require for their education special arrangements or facilities but not all the educational methods used for deaf pupils”. In 1953, this definition was changed to “pupils who have some naturally acquired speech and language, but whose hearing is so defective that they require for their education special arrangements or facilities although not necessarily all the educational methods used for deaf pupils”. In 1962, the term “partially deaf pupils” was changed to “partially hearing pupils” without any change in the definition itself.

Harry Wellington White, oralist “When I went to Manchester… the tone of the institution was undoubtedly sign…. it was like a fever lurking about”

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 17 August 2018

Harry Wellington White was born in October, 1854, son of Wellington White, a ‘quartermaster of militia,’ born in Tipperary, and his wife Anne, from Kildare. The oldest sister was born Van Diemen’s Land, then a brother was born in Dover, a second brother was born in Lancashire, and his younger brother in Hampshire, so presumably the father was being sent around the empire for his work.

Harry White began working as a clerk, presumably when he left school. He was employed as a clerk in the offices of the Great Western , at General Manager’s office at Paddington in November, 1876. He remained an employee there until February, 1879, when he resigned.  He would then be aged a little over 24, and we might suppose that it was then, or shortly after, that he enrolled as a trainee teacher of the deaf at the Ealing ‘Society for Training Teachers of the Deaf and for the Diffusion of the German System.’  He took a two and a half year course there, and qualified in 1881 in the same cohort as Mary Smart, and was it seems the only male teacher to qualify there, which seems extraordinary.  I seem to recall reading somewhere that there were far fewer me interested in becoming teachers in the latter years of the 19th century.  Previously I think male teachers had often gone into teaching as pupils who became teachers, then learnt on the job in deaf schools, but this would require research to confirm.

Having qualified, he was appointed Vice-Principal under Arthur Kinsey.  He was sent out from Ealing as an acolyte, and Benjamin St. John Ackers who lead the society as Honorary Secretary, wrote in the annual report for 1884 (p.10) –

Somewhat earlier in the year your Honorary Secretary attended the Annual Meeting of the Manchester Schools for the Deaf and Dumb, as a subscriber to that Institution, where it will be remembered Mr. H. W. White, our late Vice-Principal, was engaged in the work of training the teachers employed there, to carry on the German System.  Mr. White had represented to your Society that certain changes in the arrangements of the Manchester Institution were absolutely necessary for the ultimate success of the work.  Your Honorary Secretary’s attendance, upon the occasion referred to, was to urge the adoption of these proposed changes upon the Manchester Committee, and also the further engagement of Mr. White for another twelve months ; this latter proposition, we are sorry to learn, has, from want of funds, not been accepted.  The period of Mr. White’s engagement with your Society having expired, we were in strong hopes of seeing him at the head of some British Institution, carrying on successfully the work for which he has been trained.  About this time the Head Mastership of the West of England Institution, at Exeter, fell vacant, and Mr. White was at once advised to apply for the post, but he did not feel at liberty to do so.  Shortly afterwards a similar vacancy occurred at the Liverpool Institution ; again he was urged to apply.  Owing, possibly, to delay in forwarding his application, he was not successful in obtaining the appointment.  Upon the termination of the Society’s agreement with Mr. White an agreement was executed with Mr. Alfred Batchelor to train at the College, and to give his services to the Society in such ways as might be required for their work.

The Manchester Schools Sixtieth Annual Report for 1884 (we have not got the 1883 Report) tells us that “the arrangement referred to in the last Annual Report as having been made with Mr. White, Vice-Principal of the Ealing College, is being brought to a satisfactory termination ; and it is gratifying to your Committee to find that the Oral Classes, as organised by their Head Master, [W.S. Bessant] are working so nearly upon the lines laid down by Mr. White in his lectures, that very little alteration in them has been rendered necessary. (Annual Report, 1884, p.6).

It seems Ackers was, however, rather disappointed with White.  He wanted to expand the oralist approach by getting his man into a big school.  Perhaps White felt that running a private school would be more rewarding.  In October, 1884, White published a booklet with W.H. Allen, publishers, Speech for the Dumb. The Education of the Deaf and Dumb on the “Pure Oral” System.  He laid out the oralist approach, and concluded with an appendix on ‘Hints for the management of a deaf child.’  This included ‘Do not allow him to shuffle his feet when walking.’  Interestingly, one of our regular visitors tells me that she was told the same thing at school – perhaps this was part of the long legacy of the Ealing College?  In the introduction to that essay, when he was living at 3, Blenheim Terrace, Old Trafford, Manchester, he says, (p.v) that “I am desirous of opening a small private and select school for deaf children of the higher classes, at Bowden, Cheshire.”  Of course he adds, needlessly, “signs and the manual alphabet being rigidly excluded.”

I am not sure if that school got going, as by July 1885 he was offering lip reading lessons and his address was 4 Osman Road, West Kensington Park.  Not long after, we find numerous advertisements for White’s private deaf school, at 115 Holland Road, Kensington, in The Times and London Evening Standard (see British Newspaper Archive), as well as mentions in The Lancet (by February 1886).  He was, that same year one of the witnesses for The Royal Commission on the Blind, the Deaf and the Dumb (1889).  (We have the full text, and electronic access through Parliamentary Papers database.)  He was asked about his time at Manchester on Thursday the 18th of March, 1886.  You may recall that Ackers was on the commission, so I do not think it would be unfair to say that there was already an oralist bias –

7969. When you first went there was that the commencement of the change ? — No, they had endeavored to introduce the system, and I suppose it would be
maintained that they had introduced it. Of course one is very delicate upon a matter of that kind; there are certain susceptibilities to consider; I think they claimed that they introduced the system; but I went there to assist them to carry it on to probably a higher pitch, and farther extent.

7970. Do you claim that you made great progress is the teaching of the teachers there ? — Undoubtedly.

7971. And also the pupils themselves ? —  Certainly.  Of course my individual efforts could not have shown very great results in the children except through the teachers that I trained.  I could not be expected to teach 160 children, nor would my results be very much in twelve months; but I think that, taking class and class with the teacher that was attached to it, the whole tone of the training showed itself clearly in the education of the children.

Further on he says (paragraph 8007),

When I went to Manchester, of course the tone of the institution was undoubtedly sign.  From the point of view of a pure oral teacher it was like a fever lurking about (that is a rather strong way of putting it), and it wanted removing before you could expect to do anything with the children on the opposite system.

8008. You mean tho fever of the sign system ? — From our point of view, though that is rather a strong way of putting it; but it certainly was very infections. The new children and the children taught on the oral system were very prone to fall into the ways of those who had a system of signs around them.  The consequence was that I saw it rapidly running through the whole institution.  In six weeks or two months the children who had newly entered were as full of signs as thosewho had been there for six years, though probably not knowing so many signs.  The only hope of introducing the pure oral system would have been the removal of the whole of those sign children, and that is what I advocated.  I wrote a letter to tho committee and advocated the taking of a new house somewhere in the neighbourhood for the purpose; but they said that they could not possibly do it, that the expense was more than they could meet, and that things would have to go on as they were going on.

[…]

8059. Do you think that the time will ever come when the sign and manual systems will disappear altogether ?  — I see no reason why they should not.

8060. Do you think there is every reason why they should ?—At present there are very few reasons why they should.  If the Government take the matter up and grant assistance to the work, I see every reason why the sign system should be stamped out, and the oral system entirely established in its place.

In both the 1861 and 1871 census records, Harry White was living at home with his parents in 7 Hackney Terrace, Cassland Road. He moved with them at some point after that, to 3 Poplar Grove, Hammersmith.  In January 1891 he married Emma Parrell, at St Mary Magdalene, Peckham, and at that time he was described as a teacher on his marriage certifiate, but in the 1891 census a ‘Teacher of the Deaf’.  In both the 1901 and the 1911 censuses, they were recorded as living in 13 Sinclair Gardens, Hammersmith.

After some years he seems to have turned away from being purely a teacher of the deaf, though he may well have still had deaf pupils, for he describes himself as ‘Speech Specialist’ in both 1901 and 1911 census returns.  He wrote a few other short items, one we have, The Mechanism of Speech (1897), and a book we do not have, Hearing by Sight (18-?) which is held in Aberdeen University, possibly a unique copy.

I cannot say anything of his later carreer, but that he had three children, one son who attended Cambridge university (Harry Coxwell White), and that he died in 1940.

The National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Collection: Great Western Railway Company: Staff Records; Class: RAIL264; Piece: 6

1871 Census – Class: RG10; Piece: 332; Folio: 73; Page: 58; GSU roll: 818902

1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 60; Folio: 19; Page: 32; GSU roll: 1341013

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 39; Folio: 182; Page: 34

1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 50; Folio: 21; Page: 33

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 255

The Times (London, England), Wednesday, Oct 21, 1885; pg. 2; Issue 31583.

The Standard (London, England), Tuesday, July 14, 1885; pg. 8; Issue 19032

“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

Silent Drill by Signs – a Scout Sign System from 1934

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 16 February 2018

Written in 1934 or 1935 by Martin Baker, who was Assistant County Commissioner for the Training of Scouters in Birminmgham, Silent Drill by Signs tells us that,

There is a fascination in Drill by Signs, a sense of good-will, cheeriness and scout atmosphere which is not to be found in Sergeant-Major’s methods.

Those participating experience an increased alertness, and can attain by the Sign method a smartness hitherto impossible, and this without domineering or bullying.

The idea of using Signs for drill is not new- some of the signs are as old as the hills; it is in the method of use that the new feature lies, and it will be found to make all the difference between perfect performance and chaos.

Although Drill by Signs has been taught on the Wood Badge Courses sincve the very beginning of Training, it has not become the onl;y scouty way of moving scouts, because the method lacked one essential of any good drill, an adequate warning.

The Sign given not only showed the Scouts what was required, but it was also the signal to do it!  Hence the brightest moved first, and there was no unanimity of movement, which is the soul of smart drill.

The method here described was first used as a camp-fire item at Oslo, during the “Calgaric Cruise” in the Baltic.  A team of twelve Scouters volunyteered to be drilled by this method, and the success of the attempt prompted others to take it up.  I therefore offer it to Scouters and Guuiders generally as a new and successful method which I believe will prove worth trying.

The Signs I have suggested are a mixture of those taught at Gilwell, American Indian Sign Language, and some made up on the spur of the moment, usually good common sense, descriptive of the required action where possible.

Other Signs may be invented as desired, but keep them simple, and if possible descriptive.

It is interesting to compare the sign used for ‘form line,’ with the Indian sign for ‘soldiers’ in Ernest Thomas Seton‘s 1918 book, Sign Talk.  In the scout version, Baker has the hands held high to be seen more clearly.  Seton was a pioneer of the Boy Scouts of America.  That book was in turn heavily influenced by the U.S. general, Hugh L. Scott, who had learnt Indian signs from a Kiowa, I-See-O.  Click on the images for a larger size.
We have a copy of Seton’s book that is heavily annotated by Paget.

I think our copy of Silent Drill is pretty rare.

“The difficulty with which she then spoke on her fingers … added to her power of expression” Jessie E. Beatrice Ruddock

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 7 April 2017

It is not always easy to find women with a connection to Deaf history until the late 19th and early 20th century.  Before that, it seems to me, men predominated in both deaf education and in Deaf society and institutions.  Jessie Eva Beatrice Ruddock was one of the young women who changed that in the early decades of the 20th century.

Born in St. Margaret’s on Thames (Isleworth) on the 19th of June, 1889, Jessie was the daughter of a civil servant, Montague Grevile Ruddock (already retired in 1891 aged only 52), and his wife Amy.  Jessie was educated at a private school, South Croydon College, and then when her family moved into London, she attended a school in Kensington (Fry, 1913, from which most of the following comes).  She then had an attack of influenza aged thirteen,

which left inflammation of both ears, necessitating mastoid operations, and causing a total loss of her hearing.  For three weary years Miss Ruddock lay very ill, cared for by a noble mother and sister. Few can imagine the agony of mind experienced by her and her relatives when, after being unconscious for twelve days, it began to dawn on her that the song of the nightingale across the road in Kew Gardens would know her not.  The trilling of these beautiful songstresses had previously been her delight.* (ibid)

Her education seemed over, but aged seventeen a friend suggested a career in dispensing.  I wonder if her father had retired early through ill-health as  the children all seem to have gone into some form of employment, and after her father’s death in 1909 her mother ran a boarding house in Kew.

miss ruddockJessie contacted a Dr. Farrar, who offered to coach her, saying her deafness should be no handicap to the work of a dispenser.  Fry tell us that she attended the college, which is now the UCL School of Pharmacy, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. then studied at home until 10 p.m.  “It was jolly at the College; between fifteen and twenty ladies were there, and we attended lectures twice a day.  My chief difficulty was in pronouncing Latin and botanical names.” (ibid)  Of 150 candidates, only 23 passed, including Jessie.  She held three appointments, with a private doctor, at the Royal Maternity Charity of London Outpatients’ Department, and All Saints’ Hospital.  Fry continues, “She yearned for other fields to conquer, however, and ultimately began a course of training as a nurse at Her Majesty’s Hospital, Stepney.”  That ended unfortunately when her father became ill and she gave up work.

In 1913, Maxwell S. Fry wrote an article on Miss J. E. Beatrice Ruddock, for The British Deaf Times.  In 1910 she had written to the secretary of the National Deaf Club, having read about it in the newspapers.  She wished to know if ladies were admitted.  This caused the creation of a ladies section to the club.

Fry was obviously so taken with Miss Ruddock that he really laid it on in his article, recording his impressions when they first met in 1910/11:

Miss Ruddock is lithe of figure, quiet, pleasant and refined.  The difficulty with which she then spoke on her fingers – having scarcely mastered our language – added to her power of expression.

[…]

This brilliant and gifted young lady possesses a delicate sensibility, and a quick perception.  She is one who grasps the significance that lies beneath the surface of things apparently insignificant, and realises the splendour often hidden in simple lives.  Very intelligent, she is possessed of keen instinct.  Rich in so many natural gifts, she might have become a scholar.  withal, it is the unconscious in her that counts.

It must have worked as, dear reader, he married her in 1915, and they had two daughters, Mary Eileen (b.1920), and Kathleen (b.1917).

We also learn from the article that she enjoyed cycling, had played the piano, and went with her brother to watch Fulham play football.  Jessie (or Beatrice as she now seems to have preferred) and her husband later lived in Coventry.  Maxwell Stewart Fry, who deserves a blog post of his own, died in 1943.  I am sure there is much more that could be added about her.  She died aged 90, on the 7th of January, 1980.**

[Note that the 1911 census does not describe here as ‘deaf’.  Also, in the 1891 and 1901 censuses she was named as Jessie Ruddock, but after her father’s death she has become Beatrice in the 1911 census.]

*Fry got the the nightingale sex wrong – as with many songbirds, males sing to impress females as well as establishing territory, e.g. Multiple song features are related to paternal effort in common nightingales

** Thanks, yet again, to Norma McGilp!

Obituary. Late Mr Maxwell Fry, Coventry.  The British Deaf Times, vol 41, 1944, p.9

Fry, M.S., Prominent in the Deaf World.  Miss J.E. Beatrice Ruddock. The British Deaf Times, 1913 p.160-1

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 1026; Folio: 131; Page: 41; GSU roll: 6096136

1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 50; Folio: 17; Page: 25

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 3594; Schedule Number: 109

Alphabet, Manuel-Figure des Sourds-Muets de Naissance, An VIII (1799-1800)

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 17 March 2017

Alphabet 1A year or so ago we came across, in our French language collection, this extremely rare manual alphabet – Alphabet, Manuel-Figure des Sourds-Muets de Naissance.  It was printed in Paris, in an VIII, revolutionary year 8, which dates from the 23rd of September, 1799, to the 22nd of September, 1800.  That was the period when Bonaparte returned from Egypt and used his popularity to instigate the coup of  18 Brumaire, becoming ‘consul’ and virtual dictator.  It was possibly printed by the pupils (boys) of the Institution Nationale des Sourds-Muets à Paris, then under the principal, the Abbé Sicard.  Sicard had an extraordinary life, narrowly avoiding execution during the French Revolution in 1792, when he was arrested by the Revolutionary Commune for failing to take the oath of civil allegiance.  You can read about that in Harlan Lane’s book, When the Mind Hears (1984, see chapter 2 in particular), and in the more recent Abbé Sicard’s deaf education : empowering the mute, 1785-1820 (2015) by Emmet Kennedy.  The coup of 18 Fructidor sent Sicard into hiding, and he only emerged when Bonaparte came to power.  We have a copy of Sicard’s first book published in an VIII (year 8), Cours d’instruction d’un sourd-muet de naissance, pour servir a l’éducation des sourds-muets, but it appears that the sign alphabet that is supposed to be in it, is missing from the first edition we have.  Here it is from the back of the 1803 second edition.  Click for a larger size.Cours 1803

Was Alphabet, Manuel-Figure printed for the use of the pupils, or to sell in order to raise money?  Was it printed by the pupils, as an exercise, or a way of learning a trade?  I think we may well attribute Sicard as the man behind the publication, but perhaps it was just publicity material for the school with another teacher responsible.  It is beyond my expertise to say anything more about the Alphabet, so I present the printed pages.  It is not printed on every page, and I suspect it was printed on one sheet, then folded and cut, but if you have a more informed view about how it may have been laid out, please contribute below.

I think that this item is, as I said above, extremely rare, but it may well be unique.  The small plaque under each picture is probably aesthetic, but seems to me to make the pictures seem more ‘monumental’ and, if I dare use the term, (it may be legitimate here!), ‘iconic.’  Now compare the hand shapes in the 1803 alphabet above, with those in our 1799 one below.  See the interesting differences.  Is one drawn by a ‘reader’ of the signs, and one by the ‘speaker’, or is one drawn by the artist from his (or her) own hand shapes?  Is the 1799 Cours d’instruction alphabet different?  If both were by Sicard, would they not be identical, or could that just be a matter of the artist executing the engravings?

It measures approximately 14cm by 23cm.  We are in the process of getting many of these books, previously on card index only, onto the UCL catalogue, to make them more ‘visible’ to researchers.

The pages between those below, are blank.

Alphabet 2 Alphabet 3 Alphabet 4 Alphabet 5

Cours d’instruction d’un sourd-muet de naissance, pour servir a l’éducation des sourds-muets – on Google Books, unfortunately lacks the sign alphabet at the back.

“I think I am as devoted to and I hope I have been as as successful in promoting the oral system as any one living.” Dr. David Buxton

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 10 February 2017

Dr. David Buxton (1821-1897) was a teacher of the deaf at Liverpool.  He was co-founder of The Quarterly Review of Deaf Mute Education, an important publication that pre-dated the foundation of the National Association for Teachers of the Deaf and its journal, the Teacher of the Deaf, and spent the last years of his life working as secretary then Superintendent to the Manchester Adult Deaf and Dumb Institute.  He was also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Buxton was born in Manchester, son of Jesse, a cotton spinner, and his wife Ann.  On the Manchester baptismal register he was one of 64 children baptised on Sunday the 17th of June, 1821 (see records on ancestry.com).   His obituary in The British Deaf Monthly, from which much of the following comes, says, “Of his early life we know little until his twentieth year, when he became an inmate of the Old Kent Road asylum, remaining there ten years, at first as junior, and ending as head assistant teacher.”  According to his evidence to The Royal Commission on the Blind, the Deaf and Dumb, he started his teaching career at Old Kent Road in January 1841, and went to Liverpool in October 1851 (page 309. paragraph 9183 in the Minutes of Evidence).  From there he moved to Liverpool as headmaster, where he remained for 26 years.  Branson and Miller (p.194) tell us that Buxton joined the Old Kent Road Asylum “on the recommendation of the Reverend Alexander Watson of St. Andrews Ancoats, a relative of Dr. Watson whom he had met through a mutual interest in literature.”  Unfortunately they give us no source for that statement.  Alexander Watson was in fact a son of Dr. Joseph Watson by his second wife, Susannah Littlewood (thanks to @DeafHeritageUK for pointing that out).

In 1878 David Buxton became Secretary of the Ealing Teacher Training College, and was consequently on good terms with the oralist, Sir Benjamin Ackers.  Ackers was one of the members of the Royal Commission.  In his evidence to the Royal Commission of 1886, Buxton said (p.309), “I think I am as devoted to and I hope I have been as successful in promoting the oral system as any one living.”  In paragraph 9179, he explains “My own special duty at the Old Kent Road was to teach the first class; I taught all to speak as it was called then, teaching them articulation.”  Further on in his extensive testimony, which continues for over twelve pages of dense text, he was asked, presumably by the chairman of the committee for that session, Lord Egerton of Tatton,

We have three systems of teaching the deaf and dumb: the sign system, the combined system, and the oral system.  Do you think that any one of those is so superior to the others that the State ought to insist that only should be taught; or do you think that there must be two or more systems recognised side by side by the State?”

He responded,

“I am so thoroughly in earnest in my advocacy of the superiority of the oral system, that I should be very glad to see every other extinguished; but I know that must be a matter of time.  The oral system is incomparably the best; it is not open to question at all, because it assimilates the deaf to the class with whom they live.  If I want to communicate by signs to a deaf child I have to descend to his level: but by the oral system I endeavour to raise him to my level.  For a time perhaps the combined system may struggle on: I think that is very probable; but that the sign system in itself will last I have not the slightest expectation.  I think it will die out. (paragraph 9221)

Dr David Buxton

Some might say it is “an unconscionable time dying.”

On a curious note, in paragraph 9255 (p.314), he is asked about encouraging games such as cricket and football in school, and tells the commission, “One of my pupils at Liverpool came from Chester; he came to Liverpool to school to save himself from being drowned in the Chester Canal, I expect, for they could not keep the fellow out of the canal; he was in all day long on a summer’s day.”

The whole report is very long, but reading snatches of it brings the period to life, being reported speech, and I imagine, accurately recorded as an official report.  This exchange is very illuminating:

9262. […] when I first became a teacher the very large proportion of those who taught in the institutions were deaf teachers.

9263.  That is objectionable, is it not?  – Most objectionable.  When I went into the Old Kent Road Asylum, I think the staff was 12; I was the third who who could hear and all the other nine were deaf.   They were very good specimens of what the combined system could do; most of them could speak; they all made signs to their pupils and to one another, but nearly all spoke to us, the hearing staff.  Now I think deaf teachers are almost obsolete […]*

Buxton’s degree of 1870 was a rare honour,  conferred on him, Harvey Peet, William Turner, and Charles Baker, by Edward M. Gallaudet (American Annals of the Deaf, 1870, p.256).  It illustrates how influential his various articles were in the years before the Milan Congress.

In the Rev. Fred Gilby’s memoirs (p.149) he recalls Buxton :

I remember that Dr. Buxton was living, an extra-pure oralist though he was in theory, he ended up his days by acting as missionary to the deaf, and was acting as such in 1895 when I got there.  A foremost champion of pure oralism, he was polite enough to come and lunch with me and to honour me with his company.  He was a master of pure English but “how are the mighty fallen”, and he was now “preaching to the deaf on his fingers!”  Sunday after Sunday in his old age he came to be using the method he had for a number of years been cursing up hill and down dale.

Buxton died of influenza on the 23rd of April, 1897, and was buried at Smithdown Road Cemetery, Liverpool. Ephphatha‘s editorial for June, 1897, says,

Many regarded him as the Nestor of our cause.  He undoubtedly possessed a vast store of knowledge and a ready pen and tongue.  But he did not prosper in a worldly sense.  His life was beset with difficulties, with thorns and trials, yet he worked bravely on, good natured, patient, and scholarly unto the last.  Let him be remembered for the good he did, and for the strenuous service of his seventy years.

American Annals of the Deaf, 1897, Volume 42 (4), p,269-70

Branson, J. & Miller, D., Damned for their Difference: the Cultural Construction of Deaf People as Disabled. Gallaudet, 2002

Obituary. British Deaf Monthly, 1897, 6, 151.

Portrait. British Deaf-Mute and Deaf Chronicle, 1894, 3, 36.

Buxton, D., On the Education of the Deaf and Dumb in Lancashire and Cheshire, Volume: 6 (1853-1854) Pages: 91-102

Buxton, D., On some results of the census of the deaf and dumb in 1861, Volume: 17 (1864-1865) Pages: 231-248

1891 census – Class: RG12; Piece: 3183; Folio: 67; Page: 19; GSU roll: 6098293

1861 census – Class: RG 9; Piece: 2683; Folio: 84; Page: 1; GSU roll: 543012

Alexander Watson (1815/16–1865): doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/28827

*[For the continuation of this exchange, I feel a future blog entry will be necessary]

“the deaf who had been taught by the manual method were more intelligent & much better educated…” Agar & Rosa Russell

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 13 January 2017

Rosa Brommage was born in Wolverhampton in 1862, fourth child of Alfred, a clerk for a cemetery company, originally from Kidderminster, and his wife Caroline.  Her older sisters, Caroline and Annie, were both, like Rosa, deaf ‘from birth’ according to the census return.  Her five younger siblings all had normal hearing.  On the 18th of April, 1892, she married Agar Russell, who had lost his hearing aged 12.  Agar’s father was originally Samuel Gunster, from a Jewish family in Posen, although Agar said that they did not know his nationality – whether Polish or German.  Samuel went to America as a young man, but somehow avoided conscription and ended up in London, where he met his ‘wife’, though Agar was never sure whether they were married (various pages in his Reminiscences).

Agar Russell April 1899 Ephphatha 1We have the manuscript of Agar’s memoirs, Surdus; Reminiscences, written it seems in the war years.  They are rather higgledy-piggledy, with chapters that are themed rather than being chronological, for example “Workhouses and other Institutions,” or “Holiday Adventures.”  Some things you would like to know are not mentioned in much detail.

Agar Russell had grown up in London, where he was acquainted with the Rev. Fred Gilby and various people in the St.Saviour’s Deaf church congregation.  When he was 16, it was suggested that he become a teacher to the deaf, yet, as he says, “having never met a deaf and dumb person, or seen the manual alphabet.”  He went to the Llandaff School for six years as assistant to Alexander Melville.  The children of the school “gave a smiling welcome, and then began to make remarks to one another in a gesture language which I felt I should never be able to understand.”

Agar paints an interesting picture of life in the school.  He does not seem to have particularly liked the headmaster, Alexander Melville, and was not impressed by his teaching methods.  Melville “expected the children to answer his questions on subjects of which they had not sufficient written instructions.”  “Mrs Melville was deaf and dumb, of a quiet and gentle disposition and of no unusual attainments, and evidently in awe of her husband.  We cannot but conjecture that this union was due to her being the means of his requiring funds for the purpose of establishing the school” (see his Reminiscences).  When Mr Clyne of Bristol Deaf School came to take over temporarily after the death of Melville’s first wife,  Agar says he used instructions in writing before he put questions to the pupils –

Who? – Does? – What?

Mary – sweeps – the floor

What? – Done? – By Whom?

The floor – is swept – by Mary

In his Reminiscences he also said, “From my own experience I found that the deaf who had been taught by the manual method were more intelligent and much better educated than those brought up on the manual system.”  In the Ephphatha interview in 1896, Agar’s questioner, ‘C’, asked him,

“Speaking of the need for special services, have you ever met with a deaf person who could follow an ordinary discourse, by watching the lips of the speaker?”
“No, never; only a few who could with more or less difficulty make out short sentences uttered in an exaggerated manner by the speaker.  […] To suppose that children educated on the oral system can read everybody’s lips, even if everybody is patient enough to try them, is fallacious; and to assert that they can follow an ordinary viva voce lecture or sermon, is absurd.  The training of the mind of the deaf is more perfectly accomplished by the manual method and writing.  Many of the graduates of the oral system have a very poor grasp of language, and a very inferior mental development, as a consequence of their having been forced through many weary years to learn mere articulation and lip-reading.” (Ephphatha, p.67)

Mrs Russell jubilee ticketAgar took photos when he was in the Staffordshire mission, many being stuck into the annual reports that we have for the mission.  I expect that these were Agar’s own copies and that they were donated or willed to the library when Agar died in 1956, aged 91.  Unfortunately for us, this means that his photos are still in copyright for another ten years, so without knowing who inherited the copyright and holds it at present, we cannot legally reproduce his photos taken in the 1890s.

Rosa died in 1942, after fifty years of marriage.

Mr Russell Agar, an interview.  Ephphatha, vol.4 p.66-7, 1899

Russell, Agar, Surdus – Reminiscences.  Unpublished manuscript in library.

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 2229; Folio: 20; Page: 34; GSU roll: 6097339