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A.J. Story, Teacher of the Deaf and first secretary of the National Institute for the Deaf

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 16 March 2012

STORY, Arthur John (1864-1938)

Teacher of the deaf, Head of Stoke School 1896-1925, and active in the foundation of the National Bureau for Promoting the General Welfare of the Deaf, Story was born in Rochester, Kent, in 1864.  He began teaching in 1878 at an elementary school there. After attending teacher training college at  St.Peter’s College, Peterborough, he joined the staff of the Royal School for Deaf and Dumb Children, Margate, where he stayed for three years under the then head, Dr. Richard Elliott. He went on to gain further experience teaching at both the Manchester and Derby Institutions, and at the age of 32 (1896) was appointed Headmaster at the newly established North Staffs (Stoke) School, the first residential local authority school established after the Elementary Education Blind and Deaf Children Act of 1893 made the education of deaf children compulsory, placing the duty to provide that education onto the Local School Boards (see Stainer in a previous post).

As an author, Story wrote a number of very influential works which spread his ideas and methods across education of Deaf children in the U.K., for example Speech for the deaf (1901), Language for the deaf: a book for the use of teachers (1905 and 1927), Speech reading for the deaf – not dumb: a book for the use of those who have become deaf after having naturally acquired, through hearing, a knowledge of the English Language (1925), Speech reading and speech for the deaf (1915), etc.

Editor of Teacher of the Deaf for 18 years from 1903 when it began, Arthur Story was twice Chairman of the National College of Teachers of the Deaf (1910-11, and 1920-21),  as well as fulfilling many other roles. He married Jane Turner, also a teacher of the deaf, in 1895, but she died in 1928.

Story played a key role in the foundation of the National Bureau for Promoting the General Welfare of the Deaf in 1911, and when the organisation was reconstituted in 1925 as the National Institute for the Deaf he became its first secretary. Clearly a man of organisational ability, Story “infused new life into its activities” and in 1933 was able to oversee the move from cramped quarters to a new office in Gower St, which reamained home of the N.I.D. and R.N.I.D to the 1990s. The N.I.D. wrote, “he was keenly interested in endeavouring to obtain by means of an Act of Parliament privileges for the deaf similar to those already enjoyed by the blind.” He instigated the move of the Home for Deaf Women from Walcot Parade in Bath to new premises, the new ‘Richardson Home’ in the Midlands, as well as the Hostel for Working Lads in North London. He also established the District Associations of the N.I.D.

Story seems to have been appreciated if not loved. Carey Roe does not pull any punches in his obituary. He says,

I first came into contact with him, as a boy, about forty-five years ago – he gave me my first lessons in swimming and clay-modelling – and from the beginning I had for his work and for himself a very sincere admiration. From Derby, where he was Head Assistant to my father, Story went as Headmaster to Stoke, where seven or eight years later I became a junior member of his staff and for five years worked under his inspiration and guidance. Those years made a deep impression upon me at the time and I owe much to him not only for what he taught but for what he practiced; Story was no easy taskmaster, but he himself set the example in hard work and one valued his informed comments and criticisms, tinged as they often were with irony which helped if anything to impress his points. Perhaps it was at this stage that I acquired an immunity to Story’s tendency to sarcasm – it was part of the man – which others of his colleagues found somewhat trying at times.

Carey Roe goes on to compare him with other teachers of his age –

Story was not always an easy man to work with; he was apt to be very definite in his views and not at all hesitant about saying what he thought of those who differed from him. But, all in all, he was a great man, a personality, and he gave unstintingly of his time, his energy and his great ability to promote the cause he had at heart. Story is the last of a great trio of men- Nelson, Barnes and Story – who for twenty years, each in his own way, were the dominating figures of deaf education.

Perhaps a more kindly conclusion would be to quote W.R. [possibly the Rev. William Raper?] in the British Deaf Times;

Mr.Story and Mr.Frank Barnes, his great friend, may be called the originators of the N.I.D., formed from the Leo Bonn Bureau. We were present at its inaugural meeting, voting and subscribing on the occasion. The writer of this notice being somewhat deaf, Mr.Story kindly gave him an electrical hearing aid.

The Picture shows Story at work in his N.I.D. office.

Late Mr. Arthur J. Story.British Deaf Times, Vol.35, September-October 1938, p.132

The Late Arthur John Story, NID Annual Report 1937-8, 16-17 (photo)

W. Carey Roe, Arthur John Story, “At rest”, September 11th, 1938. Teacher of the Deaf, Vol.36, October 1938, No. 215 p. 161-2.

“The Times” and Mr. Story. Teacher of the Deaf, Vol.36, October 1938, No. 215 p. 163

One Response to “A.J. Story, Teacher of the Deaf and first secretary of the National Institute for the Deaf”

  • 1
    Hearing_Library wrote on 29 August 2014:

    I now think the W.R. must be the N.I.D. Secretary, W. Carey Roe.