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Archive for the 'Sign Language' Category

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

“He did possess that indefinable quality which for want of a better word we term genius” – Leslie Edwards O.B.E., Deaf Missioner and Teacher

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 2 December 2016

Leslie Edwards was born in Wanstead, Essex, on the 27th of December, 1885, fourth of a remarkable thirteen children.  His father, Samuel, from Hackney, was a stock jobber and later a stockbroker’s clerk, while his mother Harriet, was born in Bethnal Green.  Leslie lost his hearing through meningitis when he was seven years old, according to both the 1911 and 1901 censuses, though the Teacher of the Deaf (ToD) says nine.  He was fortunate that his family learnt to finger-spell which helped his education he said (ToD, p.194).  “It was this personal experience which led him throughout his life to advocate the use of finger-spelling, not to supplant oralism, but to provide those accurate patterns of words and sentences so essential to the acquirement of fluency in the use of language” (ibid, p.194-5).  He was educated at the Manchester Institution, according to W.R. Roe in Peeps into the deaf world, and London according to the Teacher of the Deaf obituary (by W.C. Roe I believe).  Perhaps both are true, though London does seem more likely.

In 1900 he went to art school to train as an advertising artist (ToD p.195).  On leaving art school in 1903, he worked as a lithographer, according to the 1911 census, yet another of the large number of Deaf people who learnt that trade.  He became a lay reader at the Royal Association for the Deaf and Dumb mission in West Ham.

In 1912 Edwards became an assistant teacher at the East Anglian School for the Deaf in Gorleston, Suffolk.  While there he met Marion Thorp, a Yorkshire born teacher of the deaf who had previously trained under William Nelson in Stretford, at the Manchester Institution (Deaf School).  Her father Robert was a Church of England clergyman.  They were married in 1916, and had two children, a son and daughter (ToD p.195).

Edwards speechWe have a 17 page typescript speech on welfare work that he gave in June 1950 to the Torquay Conference for Teachers of the Deaf, when his obituary says he ‘possessed the art of “putting it across,”‘ in his ‘harsh’ but ‘perfectly intelligible’ speech (ToD p.195).  For those interested in the development of oralism v. manualism it is worth reading at greater length.

The Sign Language is essential.  The word language is not necessarily confined to words, my dictionary gives several definitions one of which is “any manner of expression.”  In so far then as signing conveys ideas, gives information and increases knowledge, it is not incorrect to speak of Sign Language.
No responsible person wants to sign if it can be avoided.
[….]
If signing is to be disregarded and as far as possible suppressed as has been the case for so many years what satisfactory alternative is proposed.  Is it not time to face up to the fact that efforts to suppress this natural instinct have not been successful and are bound to fail. (Edwards 1950, p.5)

He develops this line of thinking, further on saying,

Many of you learnt French at school and I think it is reasonable to suggest you acquired about as much understanding of that foreign language as the born deaf do of their Mother Tongue.  How many of you enjoy sitting down to read a French novel? (Edwards, 1950, p.6)

Leslie EdwardsFrom 1915 until his death, he was the missioner at Leicester Mission.  Related to that was his work as a founder of the Joint Examination Board for Missioners to the Deaf in 1929, which gave a diploma to missioners and welfare workers.

He was the honorary secretary-treasurer for the British Deaf and Dumb Association from 1935 to his death, and received the O.B.E. for his work with the deaf, in 1949 (ToD p.195).

Academic qualifications, to quote his own words, he had none.  He needed none.  He did possess that indefinable quality which for want of a better word we term genius.  Nature ordained that he should be an artist and in deference to her command he sought, for a time, to utilize the gifts she had bestowed on him.  But in early manhood he found his true vocation and from then throughout his life the over-ruling factor was his unwavering determination to serve his fellow deaf. (McDougal)

He died on the 3rd of October, 1951.

Ayliffe, E., Obituary. Deaf News, 1951, 188, insert.

Census 1891 – Class: RG12; Piece: 1352; Folio: 68; Page: 38; GSU roll: 6096462

Census 1901 – Class: RG13; Piece: 1621; Folio: 90; Page: 13

Census 1911 Edwards – Class: RG14; Piece: 9703; Schedule Number: 69

Census 1911 Thorp – Class: RG14; Piece: 23656; Page: 1

EDWARDS, L, Adult Deaf Welfare Work. 1950, p.2.

McDOUGAL, K.P. Leslie Edwards: an appreciation. Silent World, 1951, 6, 174.

Memorial to the late Leslie Edwards: Loughborough Church for the Deaf beautified. British Deaf News, 1955, 1, 10-12.

Opening programme, 18 July 1961. Leicester and County Mission for the Deaf, 1961. pp. 11-12.

ROE, W,R, Peeps into the deaf world, Bemrose, 1917, p. 388.

SMITH, A. Leslie Edwards, OBE: his early days. Books and Topics, 1951, 17, 6-7.

The late Leslie Edwards, OBE. Teacher of the Deaf, 1951, 49, 194-95.

 

“Why do you sing so loud, aunty,” – Annie Webb-Peploe’s story, Deaf and Dumb

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 14 October 2016

Arthur“Why do you sing so loud, aunty,” said Jessie; “I like to hear you sing softly.”

“I want baby to listen to me,” replied her aunt hastily, and she continued her song even louder than before.

“Stupid little Arthur,” said Jessie.

“Poor little Arthur,” said Aunt Amy, with a heavy sigh.

(Deaf and Dumb)

Annie Molyneux, a prolific, if more or less forgotten Victorian author, was born on the 24th of February 1806 (not 1805 as so many bibliographical details say), daughter to John Molyneux (one of a remarkable fifteen children), and a descendant of Thomas Molyneux, who was born in Calais when it was still English.  Thomas settled in Ireland and the family entered politics, with some of his descendants and Annie’s ancestors becoming Irish MPs.  Annie married John Birch Webb, who became the vicar of Weobley in Herefordshire.  In 1866 he took the surname Peploe, so they became the Webb-Peploe’s.  Annie Webb-Peploe, or Webb in the earlier part of her life, is as I say, hardly known now, but if she is read or remembered, it is probably for the book Naomi: or, The last days of Jerusalem (1841), which is a particular genre of ‘conversion’ literature that Annie wrote a number of books on.  The main character is a Jewish woman who becomes a Christian.  It went through a considerable number of editions, including in the U.S.A., and was also translated to Danish in 1892, and German in 1900.  I did not spot any English edition quite that late, but Valman says that it continued to be published to the end of the century.  It might be interesting to draw parallels between her attitude to “the devoted and impenitent Jews” (Naomi, preface, p. v) and the Deaf people in her short story, Deaf and Dumb (uncertain date).  There is an interesting chapter in Valman’s 2009 book (see reference below), that discusses Naomi. Arthur at school

Deaf and Dumb* tells the story of a deaf boy called Arthur, and his sister Jessie who are orphaned as young children.  They live with their aunt who then sends the boy to be educated at the Exeter School.  The boy is at first educated ‘by signs’, then “when he became an intimate of the asylum it was considered time to cultivate his power of speech, which, strange as it may seem to some of our readers, is actually as perfect with those who are called deaf and dumb as with those who have spoken from infancy” (Chapter 2, page 3 – though the pages of the whole book are unnumbered).  She seems to have taken some trouble with the details of education at Exeter, but I am unclear as to what she means about ‘the art of speaking on the fingers – or dactylology’ (Chapter 2 p.6) – is she referring to sign language or fingerspelling?  The stress seems to be on becoming oral, learning to speak –

The author has heard a deaf and dumb lady read a newspaper quite intelligibly, and also converse with a mutual friend who was also deaf and dumb, and with whom she had been brought up at Braidwood’s establishment.  The tone of their voices was guttural and rather monotonous, but by no means difficult to understand.

Yes it is ‘preachy’ and in my view not terribly well written, but it is interesting.  I suspect the book dates from circa 1860-65 based on her name as it appears – Mrs Webb, and on the few details on her two fellow writers in the collection.  Our copy must I think be very rare indeed.

It is difficult to find out anything much about Annie Webb-Peploe, even though she wrote and published quite a lot over a long period.  She does not as yet appear in the ‘Orlando – Women’s Writing’ pages, unlike two of her three fellow writers who are published in the same volume, Frances Browne and Frances Mary Peard (the third being L.A. Hall).  Her three sons went into the army (Daniel), the navy (Augustus), and the church (Hanmer).  Hanmer was a member of the evangelical ‘Holiness Movement‘, and has an entry in the DNB (see below).  You can see more of her family details here.  She died in 1880.  It seems that she is ripe for some research by someone interested in Victorian literature.  I am sure there are Webb-Peploes around today who might have some family records that would add to the bare details, and a photograph perhaps.

I have saved the whole story as a pdf for those interested.  When opened, right click the file to put it the right way up.  Deaf and Dumb by Mrs Webb

Arthur and Jessie 1http://id.loc.gov/authorities/names/n84051745.html

The Jewess in Nineteenth-Century British Literary Culture de Waard, Marco. Gender Forum 21 (2008) (Review)

Valman, Nadia, The Jewess in Nineteenth-Century British Literary Culture, CUP 2009

Online Books by Mrs. Webb-Peploe

https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Search/Home?lookfor=%22Webb-Peploe,%20Mrs.%201805-1880.%22&type=author&inst=

My Life on the Prairies

I. T. Foster, ‘Peploe, Hanmer William Webb- (1837–1923)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/47130, accessed 3 Oct 2016] – see also here.

 

 

“His lips sought her skin as the horse noses its mate. […] It was a strange proposal of marriage.”

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 17 March 2016

Clyne House 2Ann Denman was the nome de plume of Katie E.M. Croft, a teacher of the deaf at the Royal School for the Deaf, Manchester.  I cannot add any interesting biographical details about her as I have not definitely identified her date or place of birth or death, though it is possible she is Katharine Elizabeth M. Croft, born in Derby in 1895.  Unfortunately we do not have a complete record of the Royal School annual reports, which were very full and included pictures.  Miss Croft appears on the list of staff for Clyne House, the part of the Royal School for the juniors, under nines, from at least 1925 to the war.  She was one of the resident teachers, following on from the first resident teacher at the school, Irene Goldsack, who married Alexander Ewing.

Why are we particularly interested in her rather than Misses Elliott, Baker or Cross, her fellow teachers in 1925?  Well, she wrote a novel, A Silent Handicap, published by Edward Arnold in 1927.  The novel follows the lives of three children who were born deaf, an illegitimate orphaned girl, a boy from a poor background, and a girl with wealthy parents.   Our copy has a promotional leaflet with review excerpts, and Selwyn Oxley’s inimitable black inky scrawl.Croft 2 book reviews  He had a brief correspondence with Katie Croft, which is stuck into the front of the book.  First there is a three page letter from the 14th of March, 1928, then a couple of short notes congratulating the Oxley’s on their marriage, and Kate Oxley’s second book being published.  Oxley had sent her a Guild of St. John of Beverley badge.  He seems to have scattered them around, for I have come across other mentions of people receiving one.

A few quotations from the novel will give a flavour of the story.

“She’s deaf and dumb, you know,” said Mr. Searle, feeling sorry for the woman and the child.
“Fiddlesticks!” said the Doctor.  “You can train a puppy, why not a deaf child? […]” (p.8)

School work began with prayers.  Geoff stood sullenly between two children.  A grown-up person had pushed him there and shaken her finger at him, and as he had always associated a sound cuff with the breaking of the law as laid down by finger-waggers, he stood where he had been put and frowned angrily. (p.30)

Chapter 19, A Proposal, describes how Mary and Geoff, the two children in the excerpts above now adults, get engaged: Geoff has given Mary a watch as a present –

Her eyes sparkled.  She looked up at Geoff to thank him.  He did not wait for her thanks, but caught her in his arms, and rubbed his mouth against her neck and cheek.  He had never learnt to kiss.  His lips sought her skin as the horse noses its mate.  Mary bent back her head that their faces might meet.  She rubbed her cheek against his.

It was a strange proposal of marriage. (p.194)

This was the 1920s, and eugenics rears its head –

“You should say until Prince Charming comes,” said her father. […] He’ll be coming along and marrying you.”

“Marry me?  No one will ever marry me, said Sally, shaking her pretty head.  I shall not marry , Daddy.  I shall live for ever and ever with you.”

“I wish I could think so, but I can’t,” said Sir Patrick.

“Yes, I shall,” said Sally.  She had been reading a book on eugenics, and spoke with the finality of youth.  “Deaf people shouldn’t marry.”[…]

“Love and common sense don’t go together, Sally,” he said, but Sally had stooped to get a piece of coal from the box, and had not seen him speak. (p.231)

Katie Croft says in her letter to Oxley,

I wrote a “Silent Handicap” in odd free afternoons.  It is life as I have seen it. Life odd queer, inexplicable – worth living only in the measure of service for others.  I felt that my children would grow up and miss so much.  I was sorry for the poor deaf child unloved except by casual strangers – and sorry for the rich deaf child who seemed to have so much.  It is the things of the spirit that matter in life – and congenital deafness tends to bind one so to mainly physical pleasures.  Education can lift one until all things are possible but it also gives the power to realize ones own isolation.
I wrote, so that if anyone ever found my work worth publishing, those who read might have some knowledge of the lives of deaf children, and of the “Dockerty’s”* scattered up and down the country, who have given such ungrudging service often for so little salary.  Above all I wished to show how economically sound it is to spend money on the education of the Deaf.  Not only does education kindle into life that Divine “light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world” but it also makes the Deaf self respecting, self supporting citizens: a help not a drag upon the community.

Croft letter 1If you can add any information about Katie Croft, please do in the comments field below.  The novel is probably hard to find – at the time of writing there is one available on Alibris.  We have a loan copy as well as the one with the letters.

For a picture of Clyne House search here https://apps.trafford.gov.uk/TraffordLifetimes.

It seems that the house was a hospital during the Great War.

*Dockerty was a character in the novel

Thanks to Geoff Eagling for the update below.

Alexander Melville and Llandaff School, 1862-1906)

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 26 February 2016

MelvilleLLANDAFF SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF AND DUMB (1862-1906) was founded by Alexander Melville (1820-1891), who had begun his teaching career under Charles Baker at Doncaster.  Melville, who was not deaf, was born in Carlisle, and Doreen Woodford says “extensive research has revealed nothing of his early life or family” (p.5).  He was certainly at Doncaster School in 1846, before moving to London in 1849, where we are told, “he was mainly instrumental in originating and organising a Sunday service for the deaf, which he carried on for some time” (BDM, 1897, p.77, Woodford ibid.).   Woodford gives a few details of his time in London where he worked for the ‘Red Lion Square Institution’, forerunner of the R.A.D.D. (now R.A.D.), helping people find work and holding signed services.  Financial problems of the new institution probably forced Melville to return to Doncaster, but his friend Samuel Smith left Doncaster for London in 1854 to work for the revitalised institution, and Melville left and after a hiatus of five years he started working in Swansea School (ibid).   Melville was the headmaster, but he clearly found it difficult to bend to the views of others, so he decided to found his own private school, which opened in 1862 near the cathedral (Woodford, p.6).  After about three years, larger premises were required.  “In passing in and out of Cardiff, Mr. Melville often cast a longing eye on a neglected little public-house on the borders of the Llandaff parish, which had been a flourishing hostelry in the days when telegraphs and railways were unknown” (BDM).  The new premises, in Romilly Crescent, remained the home for the school until it closed.

In 1865 Melville married Hannah Louisa Chappell (died 1885), a Deaf lady he had known for many years, who had attended the Old Kent Road Asylum.  Woodford suggests that her money enabled to move to new premises (p.7).

Pupils were taught with a combined method, and annual reports show that they hammered home the religious education, as can be seen in the Report of the School for the Deaf and Dumb for 1883.  John Clyne of the Bristol School interrogated pupils.

“What happened lately at Sunderland?” “A serious calamity. Nearly 200 children were killed from suffocation, and were crushed to death.” […]
“Where was there war lately?” was asked of H.L. [Harry Lowe] He wrote, “In Zululand and Egypt.” This led to the question, “Was Christ ever in Egypt?” The answer was, “Yes, Joseph and Mary took him there while Herod wanted to kill Him.” “How did Herod know about Christ?” “Wise men told him.” “How did wise men know?” “God told them.” […]
Altogether I was not prepared to find the pupils so well up as I found them. The removal of so many who were superior pupils last year induced the fear that the difference would be more marked than has proved the case. […] the only reason for regret is, that the support of the establishment is still nort on a scale permitting an adequate number of the necessitous Deaf and Dumb of South Wales to enjoy the benefits of the education which would so well meet their need” (p.15 & 18)

When Melville’s wife died he soon remarried, his second wife Elizabeth controlling Melville, then running the school after his death, but it did last for long after her death in 1904.  Agar Russell was a teacher at the school from 1881-6, and he did not take to her, nor was he taken with the educational methods (Woodford p.20).  From Russell we get a different view of her than appears in the article below, though it seems hinted.

LLANDAFF DEAF AND DUMB I SCHOOL. On Friday evening, in consequence of the death of Mrs. Melville, the hon. secretary, superintendent, and treasurer of the Llandaff Deaf and Dumb School, a meeting of the patrons, trustees, and subscribers of the institution was held, under the presidency of the Rector of Canton (the Rev. David Davies), for the purpose of considering the present position of the institution. In the course of a discussion it was stated that hitherto the institution had been entirely controlled and managed by Mrs. Melville and her late husband. It was reported that at present there were fifteen pupils in the school from various parts of the country, and, having regard to the very excellent work carried on in the institution in the past, the meeting felt that some definite scheme of administration and management should be formulated without delay. It was decided to appoint a sub-committee, consisting of the Rector of Canton, Mr. C. E. Dovey, Mr. J. Radley, Dr. Athol S. J. Pearse, Mr. P. J. Harries, and the Rev. A. G Russell, to take the matter in hand pending the summoning of a larger meeting, at which will be more fully gone into. Miss Barton, who had been staying with the late Mrs. Melville for some years, decided, with the assistance of Miss Simmons, to keep up the school until some definite arrangement was come to. At the close of the proceedings the Chairman proposed a resolution of sympathy at the death of Mrs. Melville, whom he described as a remarkable lady, with one of the strongest personalities that ever a lady possessed in Cardiff. The success of the Deaf and Dumb Institution was, undoubtedly, due to her wonderful personality. The proposition, seconded by the Rev. A. G. Russell, was supported by Mr. C. E. Dovey and Mr. J. Radley, and passed in silence. (Evening Express, 17th September, 1904)

Doreen Woodford, whose grandparents were at the school, gives a much fuller picture than I can offer here. Russell’s unpublished memoir is held in the library.

Llandaff 1

Welsh Newspapers Online

Appreciation.  Deaf and Dumb Times, 1891, 3, 26-27 (illus)

Llandaff School for the Deaf and Dumb.  British Deaf Monthly, 1897, 6, 77-78

Deaf and Dumb Magazine (Glasgow), 1879, 7, 155-56

Obituary.  Quarterly Review of Deaf-Mute Education, 1891, 2, 347-48, 378

School reports, 1867-72, 1883, 1892-4, 1897

WOODFORD, D. A man and his school: the story of the Llandaff School for the Deaf and Dumb. Llandaff Society, 1996

 

 

 

The Origins of the Ulster Institution for the Deaf and Dumb, and the Blind, established in 1831

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 15 January 2016

Ulster 1Formed from a society founded in April 1831 after a public lecture, the Ulster school began the following year in the retiring-room of an Independent Chapel in Donegall Street (Some information etc, p.9).  It was initially a day school only.  When the school moved to King Street in 1833, there were only eight pupils in attendance.  A new teacher, Mr. Collier, was appointed in October 1834, and shortly after the first blind pupil was taken on.  More money was required for a proper institution building, so in April 1835 a further public meeting resolved to raise the necessary funds, and as soon as February 1836 the new building, in College Street, was completed (ibid p.10).  Within five years they had outgrown this building, and the foundation stone for a much grander establishment was laid on 31st August, 1843.  Shortly after, an agreement was arrived at with the Claremont School in Dublin, that they would withdraw from Ulster (ibid, p.11).

Below we have a picture of the Institution, a manual alphabet illustration, type used by the blind pupils, and the ground plan, all taken from Some information […] published in 1846.

Ulster 2manual ulsterBlind ulsterUlster planThe Ulster Society for Promoting the Education of the Deaf and Dumb, and the Blind.  Some information respecting the origin, constitution, object & operations of the Ulster Society for Promoting the Education of the Deaf and Dumb, and the Blind; especially designed for the use of the Society’s auxiliaries. Belfast, the Society, 1846.  (Our copy was owned by Charles Rhind).

Quarterly Review of Deaf-Mute Education, 1891, 2, 262-69, 289-95.

“so moved by these unhappy souls” – Tommaso Pendola, Italian Teacher of the Deaf

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 6 November 2015

This article was written by our colleague Debora Marletta, with some additions.

Born in Genoa on the 22nd of June 1800, Tommaso Pendola (1800-83) joined the order of the ‘Scolopi’, the Piarists (Order of Poor Clerics Regular of the Mother of God of the Pious Schools) at the age of 16.  In 1821 he began to teach at the Collegio Tolomei in Sienna. The following quotation is phrased in a way that will sound familiar to regular readers –

Having found several deaf-mutes in Sienna, his city of adoption, he was so moved by these unhappy souls, shut out from the consolation of speech, and so desirous of relieving them from their melancholy condition, that, in 1825, he went to Genoa and placed himself, for nearly a year, as a youthful scholar under Padre Ottavio Assarotti, of the Scolopian Order, who, like De l’Epée in France, was another father to the deaf in Italy. Having learned the method well, Padre Pendola spent all his means in providing a refuge for these unfortunate ones and instructing them. (Matson, p.214-5)

L’Abate Ottavio Giovan Battista Assarotti (1753-1859) had founded the first deaf school in Italy, at Genoa, in 1801.

In 1831, under the auspices of the Grand Duke Leopoldo, Pendola founded and directed in Sienna an institute dedicated to the education of poor deaf people, later known as the Istituto Tommaso Pendola and now part of Asp (Azienda Pubblica dei Servizi alla Persona) ‘Città di Siena’.  In 1844 it was united with the school at Pisa.

Exulting in his heart, happy in relieving misery, he was the first among us to give a gentle and pious mother to these afflicted ones, calling to his Institution “The Daughters of Charity,” and when, in 1848, the members of this order were driven from Sienna as by a whirlwind, those of them that were with him remained peacefully under the protection of his uncontested authority. (Matson, p.215)

As Director at the Istituto, Pendola wrote a number of treatises on deafness and founded, in 1872, the quarterly journal titled L’Educazione dei Sordomuti (now L’educazione dei Sordi [The Education of the Deaf]).  Pendola had been a manual teacher, using sign language, influenced by Sicard, but he modified this teaching method under the influence of his friend Assarotti.

sordomutiThe aim of his new journal was pedagogical, its content directed primarily at teachers of the deaf:

‘The publication was aimed at the analysis of the didactical and pedagogical methods recommended to the teachers of the deaf’ [Esame critico dei mezzi pedagogici e didattici che vengono eventualmente raccomandati o proposti alla scuola dei sordomuti’] (L’Educazione dei Sordomuti, Anno I Serie III, vol. 26, 1903, p. 3).  The journal was also aimed at the promotion of the ‘metodo orale’ [‘the oral method’] or oralism, which had been popular in the United States since the 1860s, and had become known to Pendola via the priest Serafino Balestra, who had introduced into Italy the method known as ‘lip reading’.

Oralism – which opposed the use of sign language whilst advocating the use of speech and lip reading in the teaching of the deaf – was now deemed to be the most natural, appropriate and apt method for the social regeneration of the deaf: ‘il metodo orale è, senza contrasto, il più naturale, il più conveniente e il più opportuno per la rigenerazione sociale dei sordomuti’ (Ibid. p.2).

In 1873, a year after the journal was founded, Pendola organised the Congresso internazionale sull’educazione dei sordomuti di Siena [The International Conference for the Education of the Deaf Mutes of Siena].  As with the journal, the conference provided a platform to discuss the advantages of oralism vs manualism, also setting the theoretical basis for the Second International Congress on Education of the Deaf, held in Milan in 1880.  The ‘Milan Conference’, as it became known, formally established that oral education was superior to manual education, passing a resolution that banned the use of sign language in schools.  As readers of this website and those familiar with sign language will know, it caused much dissent, and is now seen by many as very harmful to the deaf community.  Pendola himself was not present, being old and frail, but was proclaimed honorary president (Matson, p.215).  Enthused by Oralism in the 1870s, Pendola was was appointed by the government as president of a commission to draw up plans for compulsory education of deaf children (ibid, p.216).

Volume 26 of L’Educazione dei Sordomuti, offers a large number of contributions for those interested in the history of the education of the deaf, including that of a teacher, who, in his article entitled ‘Il vocabolario dei nostri allievi’ [‘the Vocabulary of Our Students’] writes that repetition is fundamental in the teaching of a language, even in the case of deaf people. It also includes a review to Dr. Bezold’s book, published in 1902, on the aetiology of deaf-muteness, and a bibliography of studies on deafness within the context of education.

Pendola would seem to have been highly thought of by those who knew him.  He was a professor at the Uninersity of Sienna for thirty years, where, we are told, he fought against the influence of the “popular sensualist school of French materialism” (Matson, p.214).  His funeral on the 14th of February, 1883, seemingly held with greater pomp than he might have wished, was attended by much of the populace, and as he had wished, he was buried ‘with the poor, and in the midst of the deaf and dumb, my pupils’ (ibid p.217-8).

Pendola 001This is one of our copies of Pendola’s book, L’Educazione dei Sordo-muti in Italia, 1855.  It appears to be an inscription by the author.  His journal, L’Educazione dei Sordi, now available online, continues its publication of research articles, bibliographies and individual experiences in keeping with its pedagogical and didactical purposes.

We have a long run in the library from the third series, from 1903 to 1925, then picking up again in 1948.

Portrait of Tommaso.

Matson, Mrs. Kate L., Padre Tommaso Pendola, American Annals of the Deaf, 1883, Vol.28 p.213-9 (Matson’s article is mainly the words of Pendola’s friend, Padre Alessandro Toti.

“By education he understood the development of all the best parts and powers of the creature” – Benjamin Hill Payne & the Cambrian School

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 9 October 2015

Cambrian SchoolBenjamin Hill Payne was born on the 23rd of January 1847.  He lost his hearing after an attack of scarlet fever aged 10 (Ephphatha 1896).  Payne attended the Ranelagh School in Athlone (since closed and sadly the buildings torn down as recently as 1991), then worked as a teacher at Dublin’s Claremont Institution for 16 years, before moving to Swansea.  At Swansea he became the principal after the resignation of Alexander Mollison in 1875 (ibid), or 1874 according to Raper’s obituary in BDT p.129.  He remained there for 40 years.  Benjamin Payne’s wife, Miss Passant (d.1921) was also Irish born, from Slane, and she worked at his side as a matron in these schools.

The 1896 article tells us that at the Cambrian school,

Good manners and the little amenities of life are well taught indeed, and there is a refreshing spirit of bon camaraderie apparent between the Principal, his staff, and the children – an air of genial homeliness that surely is of benefit to one and all. Mr. Payne is thoroughgoing. His word is law in the school and none can command more cheerful obedience. […]
That our friend is a past master in matters educational, goes without saying.  Both methods are used at his school.  He believes in adapting the method to the pupil rather than the pupil to the method. (ibid)

The Cambrian School was formed after a public meeting held by the Mayor in Aberystwyth on 1st of February 1847, and on July 24th the first class was held with two boys at a house in Pier Street under Charls Rhind (see Jones, 1985). The school took more pupils, between the ages of nine and thirteen, and in 1848 there were eight pupils. In 1850 the school moved to Swansea, firstly at Picton Place then later in a new building at Graig Field in 1857 (ibid).
In his memoir, F.W.G. Gilby calls the Paynes ‘dear old friends’, and comments on their value as educators:

The Sleights, father and sons, Edward Townsend of Birmingham, the Paynes of Swansea, Alexander Melville, with Samuel Smith of London, and his brother W.B. Smith of Bristol were the firm stalwarts for the finger alphabet plus signs, and it is not sufficiently known and appreciated how very many splendidly equipped deaf went forth into the world after having been educated by them. (p.145)

He told William Raper of the long hours he had spent with Blomefield Sleight and others drawing up the B.D.D.A. constitution (1926).  In retirement Payne helped out running the R.A.D.D. when the Rev. G.J. Chetwynd joined the Officer Corps.  Raper tells us, “He was an attractive and elegant signer, and liked plenty of space whenever addressing an audience.”

His sermons were well thought out and interesting, but of late were inclined to be somewhat too long. He would forget the time and apologize for this afterwards. (BDT obituary)

Raper says that Payne wrote,

“The B.D.D.A. is not a mission, nor is it concerned soley with after-care. Its concern is the whole class and all that concerns them. It promotes, and has founded, missions and helped them, and is especially interested in education. It did a good deal to enlighten the public years before the Bureau was founded, and its influence on the teachers and education, though unacknowledged, is apparent today … I have lived with and taught the Deaf in Institutions for 56 years. And I say there are evils – necessary evils at present, but evils – evils out of which it is possible good may come.” (ibid)

We can see Payne’s thinking as early as 1877, when he spoke at the 1877 Conference of Headmasters of Institutions at the Strand in London.  I will just quote a few lines, in his discussion of the new oralist versus traditional manualist schools:

By education he understood the development of all the best parts and powers of the creature; instruction was simply specific information.  Compare the title of the Association for the Oral Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb with that of the noble old Institution in which he qualified – the National Institution for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb Poor.  In that they had all the difference. (ibid, p.106)

Payne died in 1926. His son, the Rev. Arnold Hill Payne, is worthy of his own post.
Payne family 1896Our Portrait Gallery 5. Mr. B.H. Payne, Ephphatha 1896, May p.78-9 (pic)

Mr & Mrs B.H. Payne, Ephphatha 1915, p.385-6 (pic)

Raper, William, Benjamin Hill Payne, Ephphatha 1926 Autumn, p.1025

Raper, William, Benjamin Hill Payne as I knew him, BDT 1926, vol. 22 p.129-30

Mr Benjamin Hill Payne, BDT 1926, vol 22 p.108

Gilby, Memoir

ROYAL CAMBRIAN RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF, Swansea (1847-1950)

LLANDINDROD WELLS RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF (1950-1971)

JONES, H. An outline of the historical development of the school for deaf children in Wales. Association Magazine (BATOD), 1985, May, 9-10.

Quarterly Review of Deaf-Mute Education, 1893, 3, 193-198.

Photo. Wales Hi, 1996, 3(3), back cover.

Royal Commission on the Blind, Deaf and Dumb, 1889. Vol. 2, Appendix 28, 289.

Llandindrod Wells School. Silent World, 1959, 14, 148-51.

Llandindrod Wells Residential School for the Deaf. Wales Hi, 1996, 3(2), 6.