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Marcus Hill Kerr – a Deaf American Artist & … Animal Trainer (1845-1903)

Hugh Dominic WStiles17 May 2019

An American Deaf man of the late 19th century, Marcus Hill Kerr was born in Liberty Township, Jackson, Michigan, in 1845.  His father Robert was a farmer with at least eight children, and as the town was settled in 1835, the Kerr family must have been one of the first in the district.  When he was three he suffered from ‘brain fever’ and lost his hearing as a result.   When he was twelve he was sent to Flint, to the Michigan School for the Deaf, and he graduated from there in 1865 (Gallaher, p.142, from which much of what follows comes, and Obituary).  Kerr went on to study at Gallaudet, to what level I cannot say – Gallaher says merely he ‘spent some time’ there.

His artistic talent was evident as a child – for example, he drew ‘an Indian shooting an elephant on a small wooden box’!  The article in Representative Deaf Persons of the United States of America seems to have been from interview with Kerr, and we have a few particular details of his early life, such as that he would read newspapers at the local ‘news depot’ but as he could not afford to buy them, he would draw pictures from memory afterwards.

Marcus’s first oil painting was painted when he was thirteen and was of his old shepherd dog.  He also made landscapes and portraits, ‘for a living’ before going to Rochester, New York, to study under a ‘celebrated artist’ Professor Adam Springfield.*  Before that he had been entirely self-taught.  Kerr went on to the artists’ colony in New York we are told, and then travelled to Europe in 1871, including visits to London, Düsseldorf  and Paris.  The article says he ‘studied’ in these places.  Probably that means he was studying under his own steam, and we may wonder how long he was studying with the celebrated Professor.  Springfield was a witness to Kerr’s passport application, in September 1872 – was he going abroad then, after getting married, rather than in 1871?  That would be an area for further research.

In September 1871, he married a Deaf lady from Jackson, called Adele George (1834-1921), nine years his senior, but who had also been at the Michigan School.  His obituary does not mention her, but does say he lived at the corner of Elm street and Main.  Adele is herself really interesting, and if you can you should read the article on her by Seitz and Laffrado cited below.  She was a poor Deaf woman who found her voice, writing and publishing her life story, A brief narrative of the life of Miss Adele M. George: (being deaf and dumb) in a number of different editions over many years, from 1859, then selling sufficient copies to rescue herself and her mother from homelessness.

Adele married a cousin, Harrison Jewell, and they had three children including a Deaf son who went to the Michigan School but died aged sixteen.  They were divorced, and then Adele married Marcus Kerr.  The marriage was not successful in the long run, and they had to endure the loss of three children in infancy.  Their divorce in 1890 was reported in the newspapers, as Kerr was well known, though Adele (Adell) is described in the city directory for Jackson in 1899 and also in 1902, as ‘Kerr, Adelle (wid Marcus H) bds 736 S Milwaukee’ – in other words she was calling herself a widow before Marcus died (Seitz and Lallrado p.174).  Kerr had accused Adele of “extravagance and desertion” (ibid.).   we might wonder what blame he carried – he did not wait about, marrying another deaf lady, Mamie E. Nettleton of Indiana, in January 1891.**

Kerr spent his later years in St. Louis, moving there in 1885, painting the ex-mayor Walbridge, as well as a pastel of the Rev. Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, which was exhibited at the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893, and was presented to the college.  He also painted Helen Keller and Alexander Graham Bell.  Do these portraits survive?

The most bizarre thing about Marcus Kerr, is his entry in Peeps into the Deaf World, where we discover that he trained a pug to perform various tricks.  It was this picture that got me looking into his life.  Whether this was a pastime or perhaps an additional source of income I do not know.  I am sure there is more to discover.  His end was sad, and a fate shared by many deaf people over the years.  He was knocked over when crossing a road on the 10th of April, 1903, by a car he did not of course hear.

Mamie is pretty opaque in the records – at least after a brief search I have not been able to pin her down, neither have I found Kerr on the 1900 census, but I have little time to look.  Did their marriage last, or did she die?  In his obituary she is not named.  That obituary, in the Jackson Citizen, quoting the St. Louis Post and Dispatch, says he had a studio at 3837 Delmar Avenue (see article on Find a Grave in the link below).

*Someone I have not been able to track down in the brief time available to research this blog in any detail, but have found this romantic Victorian historical painting by him.

Gallaher, James E., Representative Deaf Persons of the United States of America, 1898 (2nd ed.) p.142-3

Roe, W.R., Peeps into the Deaf World, 1917 p.290-1

The St. Louis Republic. (St. Louis, Mo.), 11 April 1903. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84020274/1903-04-11/ed-1/seq-3/>

Seitz, Rush, and Laffrado, Laura, Adele M. George Jewel Kerr (1834–?), Legacy Vol. 30, No. 1, Special Issue: Women Writing Disability (2013), pp. 172-183

US Census returns

Year: 1850; Census Place: Liberty, Jackson, Michigan; Roll: M432_352; Page: 402A; Image: 556

Year: 1880; Census Place: Jackson, Jackson, Michigan; Roll: 585; Page: 424D; Enumeration District: 123

U.S. Special Census on Deaf Family Marriages and Hearing Relatives, 1888-1895

Kerr’s Gallaudet page

Passport Record – National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 187; Volume #: Roll 187 – 01 Aug 1872-30 Sep 1872

Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]

Adele M George Kerr

Marcus H Kerr

 

Kathleen Trousdell Shaw, sculptor (1865-1958)

Hugh Dominic WStiles26 April 2019

Kathleen Trousdell Shaw was born in Edmonton, Middlesex, in 1865, daughter of a doctor Alfred Shaw, who was at the time working in London.  According to her the Silent World article, she was brought up in Ireland, where the family was from, when she was a child.  The story related in that article, is that when she was nine she was ‘enthralled’ watching a stonemason carve the lettering for her grandmother’s tombstone in the churchyard (where it does not say), and the mason gave her some stone and two chisels so that she could try carving herself.  Her talent was sufficiently remarkable that she was sent to Dublin Art School aged ten. The article on her from Freeman’s Journal, says, “There is a gruesome poetry about the picture, a tiny soft-lipped child stands by and gravely watches a man engaged upon work of the significance of which she is utterly unconscious.”

She gained medals and prizes and when fifteen years old managed to collect £25 with which she went to Paris and joined her elder sister in a tiny flat in the Quartier Latin. To her great joy she was accepted as a student at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, where there were no fees, and where she could study under the most eminent French artists and sculptors.

At seventeen she returned to Dublin where she did a few portrait busts, including one of Prince Edward of Saxe-Weimar, but before long she was travelling again, having won a scholar-ship of £200 for two years. This enabled her to carry out her ambition of going to Rome where she attended the studio of M. Charles Desvergne and led a pleasant life among the artists and critics, besides meeting young people of her own age at parties and dances.

[…] From the age of thirty she was stone deaf. She returned for a time to London, and worked in Julian’s studio and in the British Museum, when she got the chance of going to Athens with her friend, Miss Venning.* They went in a French ship and she made a medallion portrait of the French captain which delighted the sailors. ‘C’est lui-meme,’ they said, ‘It is he himself’.

In Athens the British Ambassador befriended them and used to take them out in his yacht to visit some of the beautiful islands, and Miss Shaw did several portraits of diplomats and some of lovely Greek children. When she returned to England she lived for a time at Knutsford in Cheshire, doing portrait busts both in bronze and marble and exhibiting in the Royal Academy. One of the Duchess of Buckingham in marble was specially admired. Later in London she made busts of Lord Avebury, the beautiful Countess Annesley and many distinguished people, which were exhibited at the Royal Academy and in the Paris Salon. […]

Her work was recognized and honoured when she was made a Member of the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1907. She was the first woman sculptor to be made a member of any Royal Academy in the British Isles. (James, p.266-7)

According to the 1901 census, Shaw saw at that time living in York Street Chamber, Marylebone, a near neighbour being Rosamond Venning.  These chambers were “The York Street Chambers were built in 1892 to house single professional women and the tenants were principally artists, authors, nurses.”  It would possibly be useful to anyone trying to uncover more about Shaw, to have a look at what records survive – it might for example tell us how long she was there.

It seems that Venning was involved in the suffrage movement as can be seen from a letter in the Women’s Library Archive.  By the time of the 1911 census, they were living together in 13 Belsize Park Gardens, and Shaw is described as Venning’s adopted daughter.  Their friendship must have begun much earlier, for the article says ‘until she was thirty she could just hear the voices of two people, her mother and her friend Miss Rosamund [sic] Venning’ (p.266).  As she made a relief of Venning in 1892, they must have been acquainted at least no later than that.

She lived with Rosamond at Pitt Cottage, Cadmore End, Buckinghamshire, in the 1920s, during which period she lost her sight, and when Rosamond died she left her estate to Kathleen.

Kathleen Shaw died on the 30th of June, 1958, in Amersham Hospital.

Among her work is the bust of Archbishop Alexander, husband of the Deaf hymn-writer, Fanny Alexander, in Armagh Cathedral, and the Armagh war memorial.  A war memorial font cover in Cadmore Church, with a silver figure, was made with gifts of silver from villagers. Also, she made a monument to two Venning ancestors at Totnes.

How tragic that blindness cut short her career.

This reference gives a long list of here work –

‘Miss Kathleen Trousdell Shaw’, Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951, University of Glasgow History of Art and HATII, online database 2011 

*Venning seems to have been an antiquarian – see https://archive.org/stream/annualreportamern115amer/annualreportamern115amer_djvu.txt and also https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Page:Folk-lore_-_A_Quarterly_Review._Volume_5,_1894.djvu/366.

James, The Honorable Mrs. B.R., Kathleen Trousdell Shaw, Silent World, 1954, p.266-7

1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 111; Folio: 158; Page: 39

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 609

Ancestry.com. Ireland, Select Marriages, 1619-1898 [database on-line]. 

Freeman’s Journal – Tuesday 01 May 1894, p.6 

Pall Mall Gazette – Saturday 06 April 1895, p.3

Villagers Humble Gifts, Yorkshire Evening Post – Saturday 24 April 1920 p. 6 

Western Times – Monday 14 April 1902, p.2

Arthur MacDonald Cuttell -“He hoped that the day would come when the Union Jack… would fly over an open college door, where the deaf could secure higher education, which was their unquestionable right”

Hugh Dominic WStiles8 February 2019

Arthur MacDonald Cuttell, (1869-1904), was an editor of Ephphatha and then later of the British Deaf Mute.   Born in Cornwall, son of the Rev. A.W. Cuttell of Margate, he became deaf through scarlet fever when he was nine.   He was educated at Helston Grammar School, then later in Matlock, Derbyshire.  He was apprenticed at the Crown Derby Works, where he became an artist decorating ceramics.

It was whilst at Derby Mr. Cuttell’s attention seems to have been drawn to work upon behalf of the deaf and dumb, and, leaving an artistic career, he entered the Derby Institution for the Deaf, and for a time worked as a teacher under Dr. Roe. He also undertook mission work amongst the adult deaf of Derby. Leaving Derby, he went to Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and, during the illness of the Rev. W. W. Adamson, acted as missioner to the deaf of that city and district. In 1897 he was appointed missioner to the deaf of Leicester and county, and upon their behalf he laboured until his death. (Obituary)

In Gilby’s unpublished memoir, Cuttell gets two brief mentions.  One might have expected more as they worked together as editors.

on July 9th, 1902, the Bishop of Barrow in Furness was with us at St. Saviour[‘]s Parsonage.  “Us,” I imagine as being Rev. W.W. Adamson and the late A.M. Cuttell.  We three were Editors of the Church Messenger and we being all in sympathy with the progress and proper carrying on our work on Church lines, took counsel together.  The title of the “Council of Church Missioners” appears as such on that date. (Gilby, 172/15)

He married in September 1901, a hearing lady, Edith Violet Vaille, who was a Ripon born governess.  She re-married in 1908, a few years after his death.

He was, his obituary says, “A man of many talents, and possessed of a bright and ready wit, he will be sorely missed by a very large circle of friends and acquaintances; especially severe is his loss to the deaf of Leicester and county, whose friend and missioner he had been for the past seven years.”

In the 1899 National association of Teachers of the Deaf Conference at Derby, Cuttell expressed his hope for future higher education for the deaf –

Mr. CUTTELL, whose remarks were read by Mr. Townsend, said that as he was not aware how far his voice would reach, he would borrow that of a friend. He appealed to the members of the Conference to do all that they could to secure the privileges of Higher Education for the Deaf. Those pupils who showed marked ability had, certainly, as much right to it as they had to their primary education. He hoped that the day would come when the Union Jack, as well as the Stars and Stripes, would fly over an open college door, where the deaf could secure higher education, which was their unquestionable right. (p.162, with adjacent photo)

The Late Arthur Macdonald Cuttell, BDT 1905 p.41-2

1899 National Association of Teachers of the Deaf, Proceedings of the Biennial Conference

Proposed Council of Ministers, BDT 1905 p.219

1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 3004; Folio: 113; Page: 16

I have had for the first time the courage to say, “Monsieur, I am growing deaf” – Marie Bashkirtseff, Artist

Hugh Dominic WStiles16 November 2018

Maria Konstantinovna Bashkirtseva or Marie Bashkirtseff (1858-1884), was a Ukrainian Russian born artist and diarist.  She led a fascinating if brief life, and kept a regular diary from the age of twelve, where she put everything of herself, her hopes, fears, sorrows and joys.  Gladstone famously called it “a book without a parallell.”

The diaries were originally published by her family in an expurgated version in 1888, which was translated into English by the German born English poet, Mathilde Blind.  Marie describes her life, struggles to be accepted in art, and her illness, of which her hearing loss and deafness was a side effect.  More details of her life are to be found on the web (see links below) and her portrait paintings are very fine, well worth seeking out.  She attended the same Art School in Paris as the British Deaf art student George Annand Mackenzie did some years later, the Académie Julian.

Her experience of losing her hearing will, I believe, be recognized by many in a similar situation.  The follow entries date from 1880.  At first there is the mishearing –

Saturday, May 8th. — When people talk in a low voice I do not near. This morning when Tony asked me whether I had seen any of Pemgino’s work, I said “No,” without understanding.

And when I was told of it afterwards, I got out of it, but very badly, by saying that indeed I had not seen any of it, and that, on the whole, it was better to admit one’s ignorance. (p.406)

Then she has tinnitus, and has to endure the ignorant behaviour of others –

Thursday, May 13th. — I have such a singing in my ears that I am obliged to make great efforts in order that it may not be noticed.

Oh ! it is horrible. With S___ it is not so bad because I am sitting near him ; and besides, whenever I like, I can tell him that he bores me.  The G___s talk loud. At the studio they laugh and tell me that I have become deaf; I look pensive, and I laugh at myself: but it’s horrible. (p.407)

There are times when it improves –

Wednesday, July 21st. — I have commenced my treatment. You are fetched in a closed Sedan chair. A costume of white flannel — drawers and stockings in one — and a hood and cloak ! Then follow a bath, a douche, drinking the waters, and inhaling in succession. I accept everything. This is the last time that I mean to take care of myself, and I shouldn’t do it now but for the fear of becoming deaf. My deafness is much better — nearly gone. (p.416)

Then she is told how serious her condition is –

Friday, September 10th. — … Doctor Fauvel, who sounded me a week ago and found nothing the matter, has sounded me to-day and found that my bronchial tubes are attacked ; his look became . . .  grave, affected, and a little confused at not having foreseen the seriousness of the evil ; then followed some of the prescriptions for consumptive persons, cod-liver oil, painting with iodine, hot milk, flannel, &c. &c, and at last he advises going to see Dr. Sée or Dr. Potain, or else to bring them to his house for a consultation. You may imagine what my aunt’s face was like ! I am simply amused ! I have suspected something for a long time ; I have been coughing all the winter, and I cough and choke still.

Besides, the wonder would be if I had nothing the matter ; I should be satisfied to have something serious and be done with it

My aunt is dismayed, and I am triumphant Death does not frighten me; I should not dare to kill myself but I should like to be done with it . . . If you only knew ! . . . . I will not wear flannel nor stain myself with iodine; I am not anxious to get better. I shall have, without that, quite enough health and life for all I shall be able to do in it.

Friday, September 17th. — Yesterday I went again to the doctor to whom I went about my ears, and he admitted that he did not expect to see matters so serious, and that I should never hear so well as formerly. I felt as if struck dead. It is horrible! I am not deaf certainly, but I hear as one sees through a thin veil. For instance, I cannot hear the tick of my alarm-clock, and I may perhaps never hear it again without going close up to it. It is indeed a misfortune. Sometimes in conversation many things escape my hearing. . . . Well, let us thank heaven for not being blind or dumb as yet. (p.422-3)

This was two years before Robert Koch, the founder of modern microbiology, identified the causative agent of ‘consumption’ – Tuberculosis, as Mycobacterium tuberculosis.  It seems likely that the this was the cause of her deafness, but we cannot be sure.  In that year, 1882, she was confronted by the news that her hearing was gone and would not return –

Thursday, November 16th. — I have been to a great doctor — a hospital surgeon — incognito and quietly dressed, so that he might not deceive me.

Oh! he is not an amiable man. He has told me very simply I shall never be cured. But my condition may improve in a satisfactory manner, so that it will be a bearable deafness ; it is so already ; it will be more so according to all appearances. But if I do not rigorously follow the treatment he prescribes it will increase. He also directs me to a little doctor who will watch over me for two months, for he has not the time himself to see me twice a week as is necessary.

I have had for the first time the courage to say, “Monsieur, I am growing deaf.” Hitherto I have made use of, ” I do not hear well, my ears are stopped, &c.” This time I dared to say that dreadful thing, and the doctor answered me with the brutality of a surgeon.

I hope that the misfortunes announced by my dreams may be that But let us not busy ourselves in advance with the troubles which God holds in reserve for his humble servant. Just at present I am only half deaf.

However, he says that it will certainly get better. As long as I have my family to watch round me and to come to my assistance with the readiness of affection all goes well, yet …. but alone, in the midst of strangers !

And supposing I have a wicked or indelicate husband ! … If again it had been compensated by some great happiness with which I should have been crowned without deserving it ! But . . . why, then, is it said that God is good, that God is just ?

Why does God cause suffering? If it is He who has created the world, why has He created evil, suffering, and wickedness ?

So then I shall never be cured. It will be bearable ; but there will be a veil betwixt me and the rest of the world. The wind in the branches, the murmur of the water, the rain which falls on the windows . . . words uttered in a low tone … I shall hear nothing of all that ! With the K____ s I did not find myself at fault once ; nor at dinner either ; directly the conversation is just a little animated I have no reason to complain. But at the theatre I do not hear the actors completely ; and with models, in the deep silence, one does not speak loud . . . However . . . without doubt, it had been to a certain decree foreseen. I ought to have become accustomed to it during the last year … I am accustomed to it, but it is terrible all the same.

I am struck in what was the most necessary to me and the most precious. (p.565-6)

She died on October the 31st, 1884, and was buried in the Cimetiere de Passy in Paris, a few weeks before her twenty-sixth birthday.

It is certainly wrong to portray her by her illness alone.  She was a dynamic and interesting person, and the tragedy is she did not have the opportunity to show what she might have achieved.  I hope some of you will be interested to read her diaries and see her paintings.

Marie_Bashkirtseff1878Journal of Marie Bashkirtseff, Translated by Mathilde Blind, London 1890

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Marie-Bashkirtseff

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/13916/13916-h/13916-h.htm

Marie Bashkirtseff. Part 2 her later life and diaries

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie_Bashkirtseff

Marie Bashkirtseff. Part 1 The portraitist and feminist

Gladstone, W. E. (1889). JOURNAL DE MARIE BASHKIRTSEFF. The Nineteenth Century: A Monthly Review, Mar.1877-Dec.1900, 26(152), 602-607. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/2630378?accountid=14511

Her paintings:

https://www.wikiart.org/en/marie-bashkirtseff/all-works#!#filterName:all-paintings-chronologically,resultType:masonry

https://www.ecosia.org/images?q=marie+bashkirtseff

The following looks interesting but I have not seen the article:

VALLERY-RADOT P 1955 Nov 26;63(79):1659-60. Une curieuse malade (1860-1884); Marie Bashkirtseff peinte par elle-même d’après son journal. [A strange patient (1860-1884); Marie Bashkirtseff who, according to her diary, she portrayed herself]. [Article in French]

 

“He owes his mental development to the manual method” – George Annand Mackenzie, the first Deaf man to get a degree in Britain

Hugh Dominic WStiles9 November 2018

George Annand Mackenzie, (1868-1951) was the first born deaf man to obtain a degree from a British university (B.A. in Theology, 1910, Master of Arts, Cambridge, 1911).*

Born to Scottish parents, his father was a chief reporter for the Liverpool Mercury (census, 1881).  He was not the first in his family who was deaf.  His elder brother, James Wilson Mackenzie (1865-95), was a talented artist, but he died young, and his obituary appeared in his father’s paper.  I wonder if their father wrote it –

THE LATE MR WILSON MACKENZIE.—Poignant regret is kindled in the hearts of his old masters, his old fellow-students, his nearer circle of friends, and the wider range which embraces those whose admiring appreciation is confined to true art, by the announcement of the death of Mr. J. Wilson Mackenzie, eldest eon of Mr. J. B. Mackenzie, of Liverpool, the sad event having occurred at West Kirby on Tuesday night. Early in his youth Wilson Mackenzie developed a remarkable aptitude in drawing and a fine sense of colour. He was placed under Mr. John Finnie, the principal of the School of Art, in Mount-street, and after a prolonged course of tuition in that nursery of painters, passed over to Paris, where he spent some time in the famous studio of Bougereau. While on the very threshold of his career, and later, he was an honoured exhibitor at the Royal Academy, and on many occasions works from his easel were hung in the Autumn Exhibitions in the Walker Gallery. In portraiture he ever minced the highest qualities of perception of charterer, and notable examples of his rare gifts in this direction are to be found inks presentments of the late Dr. E. M. Sheldon, Dr. J. Kona Smith, the late Police Magistrate of Birkenhead (Mr. J. Preston), and the into Dr. Costine. Some few years back signs of failure of the young painter’s health began to assert themselves, and in search of restoration he repaired to Davos Plata. For a time the change gave rise to hopes of recovery, but these, alas, faded away, and he returned home a. few months ago to die amongst those he loved so well. Wilson Mackenzie—it is agreeably easy to recall his eyes, quick with the brightness of genius, his graceful features, and his buoyant demeanour—was of a singularly sweet disposition, and all who know him, and knowing him therefore esteemed him, share with his parents. his sister, and his brothers the grief with which the calamity of his untimely demise has overshadowed their household. The funeral is to take place at. West Kirby Parish Church, at three o’clock to-morrow (Friday) afternoon. (Liverpool mercury, 1895, 1oth October)

In fact, the 1881 census says that George was ‘semi-deaf from birth,’ suggesting that at least when younger he had some hearing.  His mother sent him to live in Perthshire with an uncle who farmed , in the hope that the climate would help his hearing, but he seems to have run wild and was so shy on his return that he hid when he was re-introduced to his older brother (Silent World 1951, p.266).  We also read that he – and presumably his brothers – was taught initially by his mother “in finger spelling and signing – arts in which she was adept” which makes one wonder whether she learnt to help them or had learnt from some deaf relative.  Robert Armour (1837-1913), Missioner for the Deaf in Liverpool (born in Kilmarnock and deafened at 18 months by “some malady of the brain”) gave him some instruction in English composition, and he and his brothers walked five miles to the nearest church where services for the Deaf were held, so they met other members of the local Deaf community, like George Healey.

At thirteen after irregular attendances at a junior school, he went to a large hearing school, where the classes were too big and the teachers overworked. Being the only deaf pupil there he received scant attention. His school-mates with the thoughtless cruelty of the young made fun of him, standing around the door when class was dismissed and waving their hands and fingers in mimicry of his only means of expression. He took all this, he says, in good part, refusing to be drawn into any manifestation of anger or weakness and his good natured smiles soon made the game lose its savour and turned most of his tormentors into staunch and understanding friends. (Silent World p.266-7)

He was pretty much left to work out lessons for himself, gazing at pages of fractions and decimals until he understood, and he was successful enough to win school prizes (ibid).  His mother encouraged him to use his voice, but in The Teacher of the Deaf (1910, p.150) we read “He owes his mental development to the manual method.”

Leaving school, he became an artist like his brothers, winning prizes, and painting portraits of Sir Edward R. Russell , Dr. Robert Jones, and the Rev. T.W.M. Laud, among others.  He worked as an art master at a Liverpool school, and a potterty designer in Derby, before becoming a missioner to the deaf in 1901.  He then worked in Ely, Oxford and Cambridgeshire, before going to Cardiff from 1921 until his retirement in 1931.

He had tried to enter Liverpool University, with no success, and was also declined at Oxford when he was missioner there.  In 1907 the Cambridge University academics were however more enlightened than their Oxford colleagues, and he was accepted as a student.  He was excused lectures and spent the days reading for six to eight hours.  He graduated in 1910, causing a minor splash in newspapers of the time.

George married a Deaf lady from Cambridgeshire, Emily Lucy Kett (a good Norfolk name!) (1873-1954), and they had the one child, Alan.  He became involved in the deaf community, not really surprisingly, and went into the church.  The Rev. Alan F. Mackenzie (1911-1997) worked for the R.A.D.D. and was at one time on the council of the N.I.D.

The younger brother, Charles Douglas Mackenzie (1875-1953), was also Deaf.  He too became an artist, and seems to have made a living out of it.  He remained living with their mother after his father died.  Unfortunately I have not had time to research him properly.

*There is always the slim possibility that someone sneaked through before this, unrecorded.

1871 Census – Class: RG10; Piece: 3849; Folio: 124; Page: 54; GSU roll: 841928

1881 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 3419; Folio: 6; Page: 3

British Deaf Times, 1910, 7, 169-170

Grand Old Gentleman, Silent World vol.5 (9) 1951 p.266-8

The Messenger, 1910 vol.10 (6) p.80-82

Obituary. Teacher of the Deaf, 1951, 49, 154

ROE, W.R. Peeps into the deaf world. Bemrose, 1917. pp. 186-92.

Teacher of the Deaf, 1910, 8, 149-151. (photo)

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

Hugh Dominic WStiles2 November 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It certainly looks very beautiful!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A CODA – Child of Deaf Adults – Lon Chaney

Hugh Dominic WStiles20 April 2018

Many children of deaf people are hearing.  In deaf studies they are sometimes called CODAs – Children of Deaf Adults.  Being a CODA has its own set of issues and problems growing up, but it also has some advantages.  A CODA child will often be roped in to interpret between parents and officials, doctors, or the world in general, but it can also give them a foot in two cultures.  One example mentioned many times in these blog pages, is the Rev. Fred Gilby.  His parents were to discover that he was not Deaf, and he learnt to sign when other children were beginning to speak (memoirs p.8).

Another such child, was the famous actor, Leonidas Frank “Lon” Chaney (1883-1930).  His mother, Emma, was Deaf, the daughter of Jonathan Kennedy, a farmer from Illinois, and from the birthplaces of his children you can see how their family typified the movement of settlers west onto the prairie; Ohio, then Kansas, then Emma married in Colorado where Lon was born.  Emma’s sister Matilda and brother Orange were also Deaf.  Jonathan Kennedy founded the Colorado Deaf School in 1874, no doubt because of his Deaf children.  We have some U.S.A. institution annual reports, but not those for Colorado unfortunately.

Chaney’s father, Frank, a barber, was also Deaf, and born in Ohio.  He met Emma at the Colorado school.  It seems that Chaney was a very private man, and there are many gaps in his early life, where comparatively little is known.

It may be that his facial expressiveness was part of a skill set he acquired when communicating with his parents, then used in his theatrical life.  He certainly put his abilities to great use in silent films, portraying, for example, the deaf Quasimodo, in the 1923 film, The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

I have not had time to delve into his life, so I cannot say whether he was a true signer or not.  If you know, please comment with a source for any reference and I will update this.

Lon Chaney, the ‘Man of a Thousand Faces’ (source of photo unknown)

If you know the song ‘Werewolves of London,’ you may recall he gets a mention –

“Well, I saw Lon Chaney walking with the Queen
Doing the werewolves of London,
I saw Lon Chaney, Jr. walking with the Queen,
Doing the werewolves of London”

Lon Chaney was the Phantom of the Opera, and his son was the Wolf Man.

See www.ancestry.co.uk for his family tree

Soviet Education for the Deaf

Hugh Dominic WStiles26 January 2018

Half a century ago the Mayor of Moscow called deaf mutes “living creatures who cannot properly be called human beings, but who only bear an outer resemblance to them.”

Five years later, in 1917, the workers and peasants assumed power in Russia.

The new social system accepted the deaf as useful citizens, and erased the brand that made them outcasts.

The Soviet Government not only recognised the legal rights of deaf mutes, but also provided all the conditions for those rights to be realised. (Pavel Sutyagin, Of those who cannot hear, 1962)

I cannot vouch for the source of Sutyagin’s quotation, but the official was likely to have been Alexander Adrianov, Governor-General of Moscow (1908–1915).  This booklet was produced in 1962, after a vistit to the U.S.S.R. by the World Federation for the Deaf.

After the revolution, all schools came under state control, and a Decree of 10th of December, 1919, ‘the Commisariat of Education was given responsibility for deaf mutes, blind and mentally retarded children.’  The Soviet Education Bulletin continues,

In 1926 and 1927 the Council for People’s Commisars laid down statues for establishments where deaf, dumb, blind and retarded children were educated and called for an improvement in this field, particularly in the training of such young people for socially useful work. Recognising the difficulty of this work, the Soviet Government instituted various incentives to induce teachers to qualify for it (higher saleries, pensions and so on).

Further decrees were issued in 1931 and 1936.  That of 1936 criticised the application of bourgeois “theories which were holding back the correct development of special schools.  This decree abandoned pedology and distributed most children classed as “difficult to educate” among ordinary schools.

In the post-war period special attention has been paid to children needing special education.  New types of vocational schools have been built for the further education of deaf-mutes. (p2)

I suppose ‘pedology’ is an error for pedagogy.  We have a collection of Russian language books, most of which are about to be catalogued by a colleague from the UCL SSEES Library.  I think they were donated by Russian visitors in the 1950s, and 1960s, while I expect some came from visits of groups to the U.S.S.R. by people like our former Librarian, Pierre Gorman.  Most seem to be oral in approach.

Below are some examples from beautifully illustrated books for teaching.  First, a 1965 book with a chapter on space and Yuri Gagarin, the classic soviet hero.

Next a reader for the second class, with gorgeous animal and bird pictures. Note the story of the crane and the fox.

Finally a book that looked to me to be from the 1950s, but is in fact from 1987, again with really good illustrations.

Lenin appears again, as do lots of nature pictures.

After writing this, we came across yet another publication, Overcoming the Silence Barrier by Ilya Gitlits, (1975).  It includes photos by the Deaf Russian photographer, Yuri Polkhovski.

Gitlits, Ilya, Overcoming the Silence Barrier, Novosti (1975).

Vartanyan, Eduard and Gitlits, Ilya (introduction by Sutyagin), Of those who cannot hear, 1962

SCR, Soviet Education Bulletin, 1955 vol 2 (1)

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

Helen Marion Burnside, “carried the radiance of her very soul in her face”

Hugh Dominic WStiles6 October 2017

BurnsideThe chances are, that unless you are a collector of Victorian Christmas cards, you will never have heard of Helen Marion Burnside (1841-1923), yet in her day her words will have been widely read, for she wrote seasonal greeting verses;

In honour of the happy time
These girls and boys are brisk as bees,
From peep of day to vesper chime,
Preparing for festivities.

Born on September the 14th, 1841, in Bromley-by-Bow, Middlesex (London), probably at Manor field House, near the beautiful Bromley Hall, perhaps the oldest brick building in London, Helen lost her hearing aged 13 as a result of scarlet fever.  Note her birth was in 1841, as Mary Ann Helen – not 1844 as some sources say.  I think she cut a few years off her stated age as she got older.  She was baptized in St. Leonard’s Church in the 13th of October.

“During my girlhood days,” she once said to the writer, “my greatest desire was to become a musician, but at thirteen years of age a terrible calamity befell me. I became totally deaf as the result of an attack of scarlet fever, and never regained my hearing. Then it was I took to verse writing as another way of making music, for it was the desire to write words for music which, in the first instance, induced me to try the art of rhyming.”*

She was a talented artist, and had a picture exhibited at the Royal Academy when quite young; “before she was nineteen years of age the Royal Academy accepted one of her pictures of fruit and flowers, and, later, a couple of portraits in crayons” (The Strand).

She published many lyrics and poems, and it seems that over six thousand of her verses were put into Christmas cards over the years, as well as 150 of her songs being put to music.  This song, advertised in John Bull in 1871, was to music by Miss Maria Lindsay (Mrs M. Worthington Bliss);

It has seemed so long since morning tide,
And I have been left so lone,
Young smiling faces throng’d my side
When the early sunlight shone;
But they grew tired long ago, and I saw them sink to rest,
With folded hands and brows of snow, on the green earth’s mother breast.

Another lyric of hers, The Sprig of May, was put to music by Queen Victoria’s pianist, Jacques Blumenthal in 1883.

She worked as a designer for the Royal School of Art Needlework for nine years, “painting vellum bound books, having obtained a diploma in this branch of art from the World’s Columbian Exhibition.

Marion wrote many children’s books, and contributed many articles to The Girl’s Own Paper, including a story called “The Deaf Girl next door; or Marjory’s life work” which was in the March supplement in 1899, that I have not yet tracked down.  I wonder whether she knew Fred Gilby in person, for in a long article in The Girl’s Own Paper for 1897, she wrote an article about the Deaf, talking about The Royal Association in Aid of the Deaf and Dumb, mentioning Ephphatha their magazine, and its editor, MacDonald Cuttell.  Writing to her audience of girls, she said, “What they require is to be encouraged to mix , on as equal terms as possible, with hearing persons, not to be set apart and left out in the cold, as if debarred by reason of their affliction from the interests, sympathies, amusements, and occupations of other girls.”

In 1878 she moved in to live with the novelist Rosa Nouchette Carey (1840–1909).  She was certainly staying with her a 3 Eton Road, near Chalk Farm, in 1871.  It seems probable that they were life long friends as Rosa was also born in Bromley-by-Bow in 1840.  Carey left her an annuity when she died.

W.R. Roe wrote of her, in Peeps into the Deaf World,

To her the pleasantest part of her work was that done for children.  On leaving the Royal School of Art and Needlework she was for some years engaged in editing for Messrs. Raphael Tuck and Co., and also wrote many stories and verses for children.
She said that the great regret of her life was that she did not become proficient in lip-reading.  She had become accustomed to the use of the manual alphabet on the part of her friends, and her life being a busy one, she had neither time nor opportunity to acquire an art which a few years back was regarded as of doubtful value compared to other branches of learning.
Marion Burnside carried the radiance of her very soul in her face; and she let the world have the benefit of it. (Roe, 1917, p.320)

Helen Marion Burnside died at Updown Hill House, in Windlesham, Surrey, on the 5th of December, 1923.

Exhibited at Royal Academy, 1863; Columbian Exposition (honourable mention), 1895; Society of Lady Artists, 1897; designer to Royal School of Art Needlework, 1880–89; editor to Messrs Raphael Tuck and Co., 1889–95

John Bull (London, England), Saturday, January 28, 1871; pg. 50; Issue 2,616

Burnside, Helen Marion, Help for Deaf Girls. The Girl’s Own Paper (London, England), Saturday, August 14, 1897; pg. 734; Issue 920.

*Every Woman’s Encyclopaedia, Volume 4

The Girl’s Own Paper (London, England), Saturday, April 14, 1883; pg. 439; Issue 172

Roe, W.R., Peeps into the Deaf World, 1917 p.319-20

The Strand Magazine, Volume 1, Jan-June 1891 – picture from here

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/terri_klugh/christmas-of-the-past/

http://www.victorianweb.org/mt/dbscott/3.html#lindsay

http://www.ukwhoswho.com/view/article/oupww/whowaswho/U194195, accessed 6 Oct 2017

Census 1851 – Class: HO107; Piece: 1555; Folio: 472; Page: 4; GSU roll: 174787

Census 1861 – (as Mary Ann) Class: RG 9; Piece: 91; Folio: 51; Page: 8; GSU roll: 542572

Census 1871 – Class: RG10; Piece: 194; Folio: 4; Page: 1; GSU roll: 823312

Census 1881 – Class: RG11; Piece: 173; Folio: 65; Page: 22; GSU roll: 1341037

Census 1891 – Class: RG12; Piece: 452; Folio: 86; Page: 38; GSU roll: 6095562

Census 1901 – Class: RG13; Piece: 481; Folio: 170; Page: 17

Census 1911 – Class: RG14; Piece: 5146; Schedule Number: 30

 

Guild of St. John of Beverley stained glass windows from Ephphatha House, Ealing, 1928

Hugh Dominic WStiles30 June 2017

MemorialStained glass aIn our collection of artifacts, we have, bizarrely, three stained glass windows.  The windows were placed at 5 Grange Road, Ephphatha House, where Selwyn and Kate Oxley moved to when they got married in 1929.  Oxley’s mother bought the house on his behalf, originally as a home for the library of the Guild of St. John of Beverley.  The Guild deserves an entry of its own on the blog, for it was a repeating theme in Oxley’s life, & before his time it had its beginnings in the North of England with Ernest Abrahams and George Stephenson, among others.  When Oxley discovered it he seems to have taken it over, and as he wife mentions several times in her biography of him, Man with a Mission, he loved ceremonies and the associated ‘dressing up.’  Essentially it was a religious organisation, that particularly in the early years of the century, involved a sort of pilgrimage to Beverley, or at least annual services commemorating him and his ‘miracle’ healing a deaf man.

JesusI am not sure who the artist was, but Katherine Oxley says they were done by

a Hard of Hearing man, who had been in the employment of Messrs. Ward and Hughes of 67 Frith Street, Soho, above whose works the National Institute for the Deaf had at one time rented offices.
This firm had done work in All Saints’ Church, Petersham, Surrey, under the Vicariate of the late Rev. W.H. Oxley, and this was the last bit of work done by them as a firm, as soon after they suspended business.  The panels themselves are a work of art, depicting Our Lord healing the Deaf Man, and are flanked on each side by scenes portraying the miracles of St. John of Beverley and Francis of Sales.  The colours blended with a simple but strikingly effective beauty, especially when the rays of the sun caught them.

St JThey were unveiled in situ on the staircase by the Guild Warden, the Rev. W. Raper, ‘in his robes of office, carried the business through with a grave dignity’ (K. Oxley, 1953).  I have chosen the two smaller ones to photograph, as the St. John one is rather larger & harder to get out.

They were not in place too long before the Oxleys moved out of London.  I suppose that they came to us from Kate Oxley.

Oxley, K. A Man withe a Mission, 1953, Hill and Ainsworth

Oxley, Selwyn, The Seventeenth Annual Report of general Honorary Work Done for the Deaf… Year ending 1929Sales faces