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Archive for the 'Deafness' Category

James Kerr Love, Scottish Aurist, friend of Helen Keller, 1858-1942

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 22 July 2016

Kerr Love 2James Kerr Love was one of the leading British otologists of the early 20th century, but will be remembered more for his involvement with deaf children and his friendship with Helen Keller than for his surgical skills (BMJ, 1942).

It was this less spectacular work that lay nearest to his heart, and he spared himself nothing in its pursuit. […] In Dr. Kerr Love they had for many years a sympathetic and tireless champion, who wrote, lectured, and organized on their behalf with unflagging energy (ibid).

He was born in Beith, Ayrshire, a ‘son of the manse’. He was educated in Glasgow High School and the University of Glasgow, becoming an M.D. in 1888 writing his thesis, The Limits of Hearing (ibid, & BDM p.128). He was a surgeon at Glasgow Royal Infirmary for thirty years, and worked for the Glasgow Institution for the Deaf and Dumb. It was with his colleague, Dr. Addison, head of that Institute, and later Missioner for the deaf in Salisbury diocese, that he wrote the book Deaf Mutism (1896). His father-in-law was the Rev. Joseph Corbet or Corbett. He died on the 30th/31st of May, 1942, at Sunnyside, West Kilbride, Ayrshire.

It is hard to summarise Kerr Love’s views on education, and he does stress that it is a matter for teachers. Let us look at a couple of passages with his own words.  At the end of his 1906 book, Diseases of the Ear, he says:

So far as State arrangements for the education of the deaf and dumb are concerned, it seems to the author that in every large community two schools for the deaf should exist:

1. One containing all the semi-deaf, the totally deaf with much residual speech, and the ordinary deaf mute who makes good progress on the oral method. Nothing but the oral method should be adopted in this institution. Signs should be used as little as possible, and finger spelling should be prohibited. All deaf children should pass their first year in this school.
2. A school min which the finger method or a combination of the oral and finger methods is taught. It is the writer’s opinion that at least half of the deaf-mute children would ultimately find their way into this second school (p.320).

He seems to have maintained this view that sign language was only good enough for those unable to learn spoken language, writing in 1936 (in The Deaf Child, p.109):

Some of the schools describe themselves as oral schools, some as combined schools. But if it is difficult to define a combined method, it is more difficult to define a combined method school.

I am now speaking of the institutions and not of the day-schools, and I state that, apart from those in Manchester and London, all the residential institutions I have visited are combined schools. Only in these two cities do arrangements exist for the separation of the defective deaf, who should be taught manually, from the ordinary deaf child, who should be taught orally (p.109).

It is probably unfair to give a couple of quotes out of the full context of his thought, and his views seem more nuanced than these quotations might make him appear. His work is worthy of consideration in the history of deaf education in the period from 1890 to the 1930s, as he was well known and widely read, being involved in the foundation of the National Bureau for Promoting the General Welfare of the Deaf. They published his monograph consisting of four essays, The Causes and Prevention of Deafness (1912).

We see him here with his friend, Helen Keller. She was such a celebrity, perhaps one of the first modern celebrities, that everyone wanted to meet her or be seen with her, poets, politicians, doctors etc. Selwyn Oxley contacted Kerr Love when she came to the UK in 1932, as he too wanted to meet her. I love Kerr Love’s reply: “I cannot see what she can make of your library unless it be in Braille.” These notes were later stuck into a copy of one of his books by Oxley.Kerr Love note 1

Kerr Love note 2Kerr LoveKerr Love, J. & W.H. Addison.  Deaf-mutism.  1904

Kerr Love, J. & W.H. Addison.  The education of the deaf and (so-called) dumb: two papers, by James Kerr Love and W.H.Addison. Glasgow: Philosophical Society of Glasgow, 1893.

Kerr Love, J. & W.H. Addison.  A statement on the subject of methods of education, by James Kerr Love, with remarks thereon by W.H.Addison. Glasgow: James Cameron, 1893.

Kerr Love, James (ed).  Helen Keller in Scotland, a personal record written by herself.  1933

Kerr Love, James. Deafness and Common Sense. 1936

Obituary: James Kerr Love, M.D., LL.D. The British Medical Journal, Vol. 1, No. 4250 (Jun. 20, 1942), p. 775

Deaf-mutism, by J. Kerr Love, & W.H. Addison, (review) The British Deaf-Mute p.126-8, Vol. 5 1895-6

A Deaf Cuban Revolutionary in London – Captain Juan Fernandez

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 17 June 2016

Unlike most of the South American countries, Cuba was one of the last to break away from Spain, and not without a bitter struggle.  One of the heroes of the struggle was Captain Juan Fernandez.  Juan Fernandez (born circa 1868) was U.S. born  to Cuban parents, and had been educated at both the University of California and at a college in Barcelona (Ephphatha).   For three years he served under General Antonio Maceo Grajales, second-in-command in the Cuban Army of Independence, as aide-de-campe.  It was in the course of this stuggle that he was deafened by an explosion near Bahia Hondo, when a mine that was being laid to disrupt the movement of Spanish troops on the railway there, exploded early, killing several insurgents.  It forced him to leave the army.

In 1896 he travelled to Europe to represent the army of liberation.  While in London, Fernandez spoke to meetings of deaf people on several occasions (Ephphatha).

In 1899, when Fernandez was in Paris,

while he was smoking in front of the Hotel Terminus, he was approached by three Germans, who knew his name and all about him, and began to rave about the selfishness of the United States Government in its relation to Cuba.  In the course of their talk one of them showed Fernandez a photograph of a German officer, whom Fernandez recognized as the man speaking to him.  The German went on to say that through Fernandez he could get the Cubans 250,000 francs at once and plenty more when required, with all the arms and ammunition necessary for a prolonged rebellion against the United States Government, if Fernandez would work in Germany’s interest.  At this Fernandez replied: “Gentlemen, I am a Cuban by blood, but I am a citizen of the United States, and will see you and Germany in — before I would raise a finger against the land of my birth.  I shall make this public, if it costs me my head.  Good day.”

Exit three Germans in great haste and confusion.

In addition to talking about the revolution, Fernandez also pronounced on other subjects regarding Cuba, for example the beauty of the Cuban ladies.  He was careful to distance the revolutionaries, who he described as being a mixture of all Cubans as well as being supported by Europeans, from anarchists, who were widely active at that time.  He condemned the assassination of the Spanish Prime Minister Cánovas del Castillo whose repressive policies helped foster political instability in Spain.

I was about to say that have not been able to find out much more about Juan Fernandez, then discovered an article in The Illustrated Police News, that says he married in St. Mary’s Islington one Maud Ashton, a deaf lady. That would have been in July 1898.  In actual fact, the records show he married Julia Ayshford (June Quarter 1898) –

AYSHFORD  Julia Georgiana    Islington  1b 535
Fernandez  Juan    Islington  1b 535

The article also says that the ceremony was conducted by the Rev. Dr. Kibley, Chaplain of the Deaf and Dumb Asylum.  The marriage certificate, were you to obtain a copy, would show that the newspaper made another mistake and that the ceremony was conducted by our old friend, the Rev. Gilby, chaplain to the Royal Association in aid of the Deaf and Dumb.   The extraordinary thing is, when I started writing this I had no idea that there was a deeper connection.  I just discovered this, in Ephphatha, for July 1898. p.115 –

London notesJulia Ayshford, previously Julia Franklin, was deaf from an accident aged 15 (see 1911 census).  She married the St. Saviour’s church stalwart and friend of Gilby’s, H.G.G. Ayshford, who died in 1893.  They had a daughter, also called Julia, who Juan adopted.  In 1901 they were living in Eastbourne.  Julia Fernandez died in Edmonton in 1933, aged 73.

In 1898 he held a commission in the U.S. Army – but perhaps that was related to the Spanish-U.S.A. War.  If that is the case, I would expect that there are U.S. Army records that would be worth checking.  From the record of his marriage online, I see that his father was a Presbytarian minister, also called Juan Fernandez, and that he was a widower.  If his father trained formally as a minister there may well be a record of that at some college.

Any Spanish speaking readers out there who would care to find out more about him and fill in some more details, please leave a comment below.  It would make an interesting addition to the history of Deaf people.  If you can tell us when or where he died that would also be of interest – he was certainly dead by the 1911 census when Julia was a widow working as a servant.
Juan FernandezTHE STRUGGLE IN CUBA . Glasgow Herald (Glasgow, Scotland), Friday, December 11, 1896; Issue 297. British Library Newspapers, Part I: 1800-1900

Daily News (London, England), Friday, December 11, 1896; Issue 15821. British Library Newspapers, Part I: 1800-1900

The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent (Sheffield, England), Friday, December 18, 1896; pg. 4; Issue 13178. British Library Newspapers, Part II: 1800-1900

The Morning Post (London, England), Saturday, August 14, 1897; pg. 5; Issue 39060. British Library Newspapers, Part II: 1800-1900

The Illustrated Police News etc (London, England), Saturday, July 2, 1898; Issue 1794. British Library Newspapers, Part I: 1800-1900

Ephphatha Vol 3 1898 p.37, p.62, and p.115

1911 Census Class: RG14; Piece: 2294

1901 Census Class: RG13; Piece: 880; Folio: 107; Page: 8

NB One of the witnesses at their wedding was Frank Hodgkins.


George Frankland, Deaf Journalist (1866-1936) “brilliant scholar, deep thinker and one of the finest writers of prose”

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 10 June 2016

George Frankland  was born to middle class parents in Liverpool on the 9th of September, 1866 (British Deaf Mute p.290, from which much of this is taken).  The article goes on,

It is not quite clear whether George’s deafness was congenital ; his mother considers it due to falls and shocks to head in infancy.  This, by the way, accounts for his poetic tendencies.  The deafness, however, was only partial.  Consequently, George was treated in most respects as a hearing child – to his sorrow often enough.  He was sent to the ordinary hearing schools, but owing to his infirmity, and the conventional methods of education, learned comparatively little. (ibid)

However he did learn to read at an early age, which led him to writing.

Life became more difficult when his father died in 1881.  George worked for a time for his older brother, as an office boy,  but found the work too little to kindle any interest.  He went to Liverpool School of Art, but “did not distinguish himself”, although he there came into contact with another deaf person for the first time, Mr. J.R. Brown, one of the masters.  John Rowland Brown (1850-1923) had trained under T.M. Lindsay c 1864-67, and later moved to Liverpool where he was an assistant master at the college for 30 years. “Returned to Ght [Graham’s Town] on retirement c. 1902 where he held a one-man exhibition in 1916.”  (p.129, Pictorial Africana by A Gordon-Brown, via Google Books)

In 1884 George came in contact with James Wilson Mackenzie (1865-95), a gifted young deaf artist, some of whose paintings are still to be seen in the Wirral.  He and his brother introduced George to the Liverpool Deaf community.

With money short and his father’s estate tied up in the court of Chancery for may years, and failing to make his way in the world of art, George pursued a literature, learning shorthand, playing the piano to some degree, was supposedly “a genius at the organ” (Fry, 1936), and becoming enthusiastic about chess.  He stayed with his brother, trying to follow his trade as a shoemaker, but again felt he was wasting his time with too little he could do.  When his sister moved to London to study the piano, George studied typewriting “at Miss Day’s, and, through Mr. J.R.K. Toms, whom he met there, came into contact with the London deaf.” (British Deaf Mute, p.291)

He bought a typewriter but did not have the speed for office work.  Poor George seems to have really struggled to find his niche, but he continued to write, and had a safety net of a small income from his father’s property when the estate was settled.  In London he attended St. Saviour’s church, and helped organise the Cricket Club.  Gilby says that in 1894, “It was during this year that our first real Cricket Club secured a ground at Neasden, and George Frankland became its first Secretary.  It ran for several years at Bishop’s Avenue, Finchley.  Many happy afternoons did we spend there while the ladies with my assistance got tea ready and made huge out of it which went towards the rent of the pitch.” (Memoir, p.132-3)

He became a full time reporter for British Deaf Mute and The Church Messenger/Ephphatha from 1893.  In his obituary, M.S. Fry recounts that Frankland was much the quietest of the small group of journalists who worked for Joseph Hepworth on the British Deaf Monthly and The British Deaf Times.  “A brilliant scholar, deep thinker and one of the finest writers of prose, and a most lovable man” (Fry, 1936).

FranklandBritish Deaf Mute, 1896, 5:290-1 (with picture)

Fry, Maxwell S., Obituary: the late Mr George Frankland, British Deaf Times, 1936 vol.33 p.104

Picture, British Deaf Monthly 1896 vol 6, p.36

Please note, I have followed the original article in the B.D.M. fairly closely.  Please chip in with any additional information.

“Breeders of the Deaf” – Percival Macleod Yearsley’s ‘self advertisement’

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 22 March 2016

In the 1920s eugenics was a very hot subject, an area of much concern to Percival Macleod Yearsley (1867-1951).  Percival was a cousin (twice removed) of James Yearsley the great aural surgeon.  Yearsley was formerly consulting aural surgeon to St. James’ Hospital, Balham, and to the London County Council.  He died at Gerrard’s Cross on May 4, 1951 at the age of 83.  He was educated at Merchant Taylors’ School and the Westminster and London Hospitals.  In 1893 he was appointed to the staff of the old Royal Ear Hospital in Soho, becoming senior surgeon, and

he was the first aural surgeon to the London County Council, for whom he carried out important investigations among school-children.  He also interested himself in the welfare of deaf-mutes.  A man of many interests, Macleod Yearsley wrote some delightful fairy tales, studied the story of the Bible, discussed the sanity of Hamlet and doctors in Elizabethan drama, took a scientific interest in the Zoological Society, translated Forel’s Sensations des insectes, and was an archaeologist of repute. In his own specialty he wrote a Textbook on Diseases of the Ear (1908) and another on Nursing in Diseases of the Throat, Nose and Ear.  Later he became greatly interested in the Zund-Burguet electrophonoid treatment of deafness, on which he wrote a monograph in 1933.  Energetic, open-minded, and many-faceted, he was looked upon as rather a stormy petrel by his contemporaries; but he mellowed with time, to be regarded with respect and admiration by otologists of today. (Obituary in the Lancet, 1951)

Percival McLeod Yearsley's signature in a copy of his cousin's The Artificial Tympanum

Percival MacLeod Yearsley’s signature in a copy of his cousin’s book The Artificial Tympanum

The letter, a follow up to a much longer letter signed by a number of notable people, appears in a scrap page from Ernest Ayliffe’s collection of various odd documents and letters, with associated cuttings, and the page is dated ‘Feb 22/29’.   The year was 1929, the newspaper the Daily Mail.

Breeders of the Deaf

Sir,- For the past twenty-one years I have been advocating the sterilisation of those who are responsible for the perpetuation of a considerable section of our “deaf-mutes.” But hitherto such advocacy has fallen upon deaf ears.

There are numerous examples in our deaf schools all over the country of born deaf children whose disability is due to what is known as “true hereditary deafness,” a condition which, in its propagation, follows the Mendelian theory.
Dr. Kerr Love, of Glasgow, and I have published for years past a considerable amount of work upon this question, and have shown that, while there are hearing carriers of deafness whom it be difficult to sterilise, owing to the practical impossibility of recognising them until they produce deaf children, those who are born hereditarily deaf breed true, and can be safely expected to do so.

These are the cases which require sterilisation, and I have a considerable number of family trees showing this sure method of perpetuation of deafness.

I need not expatiate upon the advantage to the race and to the State if this form of deafness could be eliminated, but I would point out that the education of a normal hearing child costs approximately £5 18s., while that of a deaf child is £69 18s. 10d.

This gives an additional reason for sterilisation of the unfit, and it is satisfactory to see that the letter published contains the names of bishops as well as of men of science.
81 Wimpole street, W.1.

As you see, Ayliffe added some comments –

Wish to call attention to this very damaging letter to the cause of the Deaf.

Whatever the merits of the system it is a brutal one.
May be justification for it in a few cases- but very few.
Why Deaf & Dumb! Why not blind. You get some cases to my certain knowledge – generations of them (in few cases likewise)
Why not M.Ds?
Why not the vicious?
Why not criminals?
[pencil] Difficulty of appeal [pencil]
Our appeal for the Deaf is very seriously jeopardised by such a letter.
Can anything be done by the committee to counteract it?
[pencil] Implications by quotation from Kerr Love
Ought we to repudiate the whole thing or let Yearsley get away with his self advertisement? [pencil]

B.D.D.A. – [pencil] Indignation – but –


Ayliffe’s comment there seems to expose Yearsley.  His understanding of the new science of genetics does not seem to be great.  Despite his other certain talents, in this letter he comes across as a shameless self-promotor, a mere shadow of his relative.Breeders of the deaf 001

Percival Macleod Yearsley Lancet. 1951 May 19;1(6664):1130.

Updated 23/12/2016 with photograph of Yearsley from Teacher of the Deaf



‘she had “very little ear” for speech’ – Ardent Oralist Miss Susannah E. Hull,

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 16 December 2015

Susannah Elizabeth Hull, (1843-1922) was born with her twin Agnes in Camberwell, daughter to George Hull a Scottish Doctor and his wife Susanna.  He was a member of the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh, and the Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh.  In 1851 the family were living in Tonbridge, Kent, but her father clearly prospered in his medical practice as by 1861 they were living in Kensington.  Susannah is hardly remembered today, but she was one of the British representatives at the Milan Conference, and knew Alexander Graham Bell well.  She was first attracted to work with deaf children on reading about Laura Bridgeman, the American deaf-blind lady according to British Deaf Monthly, and was told by her father of the case of two deaf children.  She wrote to the British Deaf Monthly to correct several inaccuracies in their story (Hodgson 1953, p.207-8, BDM vol 9 p.103).  In 1862-3 she became interested in a small girl who was left deaf, blind, and paralysed by scarlet fever.  She was, we are told, encouraged by Dickens’s account of the deaf-blind lady, Laura Bridgman, which he wrote in American Notes.  Accordingly she opened a small home school in 1862, in her father’s house at 1, St. Mary Abbott’s Terrace, Kensington, moving to Warwick Gardens with her family after six years, the better to accommodate her expanding school.

The BDM says she taught at first with the manual alphabet and writing.  In his biography of Alexander Graham Bell, Bruce says

Since 1864 the idea of teaching speech to deaf-mutes had grown in Melville Bell’s mind from an incidental possibility to “one of the prominent utilities of the system,” as he put it.  This claim caught the eye of Bell’s former pupil Susanna E. Hull, who now ran a private school for deaf children at South Kensington.  In the spring of 1868 Miss Hull asked Melville Bell for help following up on the idea.  Thus, on May 21, 1868, Alexander Graham Bell first tried his skill at teaching the deaf, his pupils being two “remarkably intelligent happy-looking little girls” named Lotty and Minna.  (Bruce, p.56)

The BDM article differs slightly – it says

on hearing of Prof. Bell’s “Visible Speech,” by which the deaf could be taught to speak, she went over to America, in one of her vacations, and studied this method, and for some years taught her children to speak in this way.  When however, the late Mr. Arthur Kinsey was appointed Principal of the Ealing College, Miss Hull went to him, and studied the Oral system, and from that time – 1878, has been a strong advocate of the Pure Oral method; not only teaching her own pupils to speak but leacturing on behalf of the children of the poor all over the country, and always pleading for speech for the deaf. (ibid.)

Miss HullBruce says that she went to the U.S.A. and spent a month with Alexander Bell in Boston – this would have been in 1872 (Bruce, p.90). “During the school year a dozen or so pupils came to him, among them Theresa Dudley for two or three months, Susanna Hull from London for a month (somewhat to Bell’s regret, since she had “very little ear” for speech) […]” (ibid).  Farrar says, “Another pioneer of the oral teaching in this country is Miss Susanna E. Hull, who had begun the private education of the deaf in 1862, but her method was more a combined than oral one, in which lip-reading was hardly recognised, and it was not until 1873 that she adopted the oral system in its entirety.” (Farrar, 1923, p.75)

Susannah Hull attended the Milan Conference, and in the address or paper which she read there, she said that when she began her work in 1863,

I was ignorant that so vast a number of our fellow beings were deprived of the sense of hearing, and I had no idea that so many institutions existed for the amelioration of their condition. All I then knew had been gathered from a short account of Laura Bridgman and James Mitchell, in Chambers’ Magazine.  […] Then I heard through my father, a London Physician, of the miserable condition of a young lady, who by a succession of fevers had been left lame, maimed, deaf, and almost blind.  No one could be found to educate this unhappy child, and my father was appealed to for advice and assistance.  The slumbering desire of my heart awoke, and I gained permission to attempt the task. (p.69-70)

Told that she could “do nothing for those born deaf without signs”, and that she would have to enter an institution to gain that knowledge, she continued, “Nothing then remained but to teach without signs, or form them for myself.”  She continues,

I enter thus minutely into my first steps to show how utterly unprejudiced I was to any system, how ready to adopt anything that could be to the advantage of my pupils.

With regard to signs, I must add, that, on looking back, I date a decline in my success in teaching language, from the time of the introduction of those signs. (p.71)

She explains more of the history of her methods, complains the the “Combined” system “injures the tone of voice”, and that “as the deaf are only to ready to think themselves the objects of detractive remarks, persons so taught will soon find out that their speech is peculiar, and be driven to use their voices less, to depend on silent methods more, and to prefer the society of the deaf.” (p.76)

Hull was a member of the Ealing Society for Training Teachers of the Deaf, and taught at the college’s school in order to gain an insight into Mr Kinsey’s use of the German Method of oralism, and to that end visited German Deaf Schools in 1883 with miss Yale of Northampton, Massachusetts (BDM p.103).   She was one of the many who gave evidence to the Royal Commission on the blind, the deaf and dumb, &c., of the United Kingdom in 1886.  In her testimony, on pages 255-9,  she says (§ 7815) that she visited American Institutions in 1872 and 1873, and many German Institutions in 1883.  Among other interesting things, she also says (§ 7884-5) that they had trouble at the college in recruiting men.

Susannah Hull wrote several pamphlets, some are listed below.  She died on November the 24th in Sidcup, Kent, well regarded by her teaching friends, if the obituary in Teacher of the Deaf (thin as it is on biographical detail) is to be believed, but no doubt she was a disappointment to those who favoured manual education.

Clearly there are interesting avenues for research here, such as the teaching methods of early oralists as opposed to manualists (the Royal Commission report is useful here), a better understanding of the chronology of oralism and manualism, and following up on individuals from oralist and manualist backgrounds to examine as far as possible their stories after leaving education.

[Note: I originally wrote that there should be no ‘h’ Susanna, but she did sign her letter to the BDM with the ‘h’ so I have made a few corrections & added a little more information 7/2/2020]

Bruce, Robert V. Bell : Alexander Graham Bell and the Conquest of Solitude., 1973

Farrar, A., Arnold on the Education of the Deaf. 2nd edition, 1923.

Hodgson, K. The deaf and their problems. 1953

McLoughlin, M.G., A History of the Education of the Deaf in England,

Miss Hull’s Life Work, British Deaf Monthly, 1899, Vol.8, no.90, p.113

New Institute for the Deaf at Rochdale, opened by Miss Hull, Oldham Deaf-Mute Gazette, November 1907, p.45-53

Obituary. Teacher of the Deaf, 1922, 20, 161-64.

Our teachers: Miss Susannah E. Hull. British Deaf Monthly, 1900, 9, 84, 103, 121. (photo)

Susannah E Hull, works in the Historical Collection:
Lessons in intuitive language, from the pictures published by the Educational Supply Association…No.1, Industrious children moral series. London, Educational Supply Association, 18–?

My experience of various methods of educating the deaf-born: a paper written for the International Congress at Milan, September, 1880, p.69-84.

Teaching the dumb to speak: a health question for the working classes, a question for the rich. London, Witherby, 1884.

Letter to Miss Rogers on the International Congress held at Milan, Italy, September 6-11, 1880. Dated November 10, 1880 [Northampton, Mass: Clarke Institution, 1880]. Published as pp. 35-43 of the Appendix to the 13th Annual Report of the Clarke Institution.

A few words on the extension of our work. 18–?

I thought it might be of interest to add a list of her pupils from the 1881 census, the only one where she is listed with her students.  I was unable to track her in the 1871 census and I suspect that she was travelling, though a careful search with variants of her name might find her, as transcribers often make errors.  Most of these pupils will have been in the school when Hull attended the Milan Congress in September 1880.

Address Surname Relationship to Head Age Estimated birth year Gender Occupation Place of birth Country of birth
Holland Rd 89 Susanna Hull Head 38 1843 Female Instructor Of The Deaf By Vocal Speech Peckham Surrey England
Holland Rd 89 Clementina M. Hull Sister 37 1844 Female Artist Oil Watercolor Peckham Surrey England
Holland Rd 89 Jessie M. Warden Pupil 11 1870 Female Scholar (Brit Sub) India
Holland Rd 89 Phoebe G. Sandbach Pupil 9 1872 Female Scholar Manchester
Holland Rd 89 Laura E.J. Gofton Pupil 8 1873 Female Scholar Yorkshire England
Holland Rd 89 Beatrice M. Isleton Pupil 9 1872 Female Scholar Camberwell
Holland Rd 89 Lilian M. Isleton Pupil 7 1874 Female Scholar Caterham Surrey England
Holland Rd 89 Margaret O. Allan Pupil 8 1873 Female Scholar (Brit Sub) India
Holland Rd 89 Chas.F. Coyney Pupil 9 1872 Male Scholar Derbyshire England
Holland Rd 89 Cecil H.R. Jones Pupil 7 1874 Male Scholar (Brit Sub) Venezuela
Holland Rd 89 Philip H. Francis Pupil 8 1873 Male Scholar Addlestone Surrey England
Holland Rd 89 Henry Francis Pupil 6 1875 Male Scholar Addlestone Surrey England
Holland Rd 89 Harry Hedgland Pupil 8 1873 Male Scholar
Holland Rd 89 Mary Van 42 1839 Female Governess Assistant (S M) London, London Middlesex England
Holland Rd 89 Lititia Amies Servant 54 1827 Female Hsekeeper Domestic Norwich Norfolk England


1911 Class: RG14; Piece: 3721; Schedule Number: 15

1881 Class: RG11; Piece: 28; Folio: 15; Page: 15; GSU roll: 1341006

1851 Class: HO107; Piece: 1614; Folio: 142; Page: 20; GSU roll: 193515

“to give expression to their patriotism” – Our Badge Collection

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 4 December 2015

We have a number of interesting badges collected in the past, many presented to the library by Pierre Gorman, the former librarian.  The notes are based on information from that era.  We have many more badges than this selection here.  Click the images for a larger size.

IMGP3191The first one here is the badge of the Guild of St. John of Beverley for the Deaf.  This particular badge was presented to the library in 1958 by George Robinson, superintendent and secretary of the Swansea Mission to the Deaf and Dumb from 1933-44.  We are told that he received the badge from Selwyn Oxley when he married in 1933, “together with a garish tie”.  The Guild was founded in Yorkshire in 1896 but reconstituted with a London branch in 1915.  Selwyn Oxley seems to have taken it over, running it with enthusiasm for a time.  After his death it appears to have declined. We have various Guild material in the library, including some annual reports.

IMGP3175Next we have two National Institute for the Deaf badges.  IMGP3176The N.I.D. became the R.N.I.D. and now of course  Action on Hearing Loss.  The red badge was designed for deaf persons to wear, the blue for hard of hearing.  There are discussions in reports and early copies of the Silent World about badges like this, with some different suggested designs.  I suppose these date from around 1948-50. WFD blueIMGP3179

The next four badges, donated by Pierre Gorman, are for three World Federation of the Deaf congresses.  The gold one with the hand is from the Zagreb Congress of August 1955.  The blue and white one is from the Rome Congress of September 1957.  The next one is from the 1959 Congress which was in Wiesbaden.  The last of these, the one with the mermaid – “Syrenka Warszawska” – the Warsaw coat of arms, is from the Warsaw Congress of August 1967.IMGP3180

IMGP3185The next badge is particularly interesting.  The Committee Report of the Liverpool Adult Deaf and Dumb Benevolent Society for 1915 (published in the 1916 report), whose Hon. Secretary was George Healey and whose Superintendent was Ernest Ayliffe, says,

The Deaf have shared with others in the wish to do something to give expression to their patriotism. A Deaf Volunteer Corps was formed early in the year and it has a membership of ninety-four. Military and Swedish Drill have been taken, and there is no doubt that the discipline and physical exercise have been beneficial.

IMGP3190That suggests that this badge is going to be pretty rare!IMGP3183

Next we have a badge from the National Association of Deaf Motorists.  It has a design that depicts a steering wheel.  As this is the first mention of them on the world wide web, I am unable to add anything more.  It would probably have been active in the 1930s to 1950s, but that is a guess.  It may be a topic someone would like to research.IMGP3184

Next we have a badge for the B.D.D.A., the British Deaf and Dumb Association, now of course the B.D.A.  The badge was originally luminous, issued to Deaf people in the Second World War.  Because they were unable to hear daylight air-raid sirens, the idea was that passers-by would be able to tell them when there was an air-raid.  During black-outs of course it would have, in theory at least, alerted motorists (perhaps from the N.A.D.M.!) and pedestrians to their presence.  Its size does not suggest that it would be terribly effective.  According to the note with the badges, “It should be noted that after the first wave of enthusiasm, few deaf people continued to wear them for the remainder of the war.”


Andreas Elias Büchner – “the deaf person may hear very well, on holding, by the lower rim, a beer-glass, to the upper teeth”

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 27 November 2015

Buchner 2Andreas Elias Büchner was a German doctor, born in Erfurt in 1701 and who died in Halle in 1769.  He was educated at the protestant school, then went on to study at the universities of Erfurt, Halle and Leipzig.  He became a member of the Prussian Academy of Science in 1738, and a professor at Halle University in 1744.  He was a follower of the Halle doctor and chemist, Friedrich Hoffmann.

Büchner’s book is on “An easy and very practicable method to enable deaf persons to hear: together with a brief account of, and some reflections and observations upon, the several attempts formerly made for the benefit of such persons.”

He says,

I shall relate the several means devised, in order to amend this sense, when impaired, or retrieve it, when intirely lost ; or by help of the other senses, and a tolerable degree of understanding in the patient, to render its loss, in some measure, more tolerable : and lastly, I shall select, among the several methods proposed, that, which to me appears, to be the easiest and most simple.  But, previous to this, I shall briefly explain the reasons of the principal defects of the sense of hrearing, both from their causes, and from the structure of the outer and inner ear ; and then more accurately determine the greater or less utility of the methods hitherto employed, in order to amend these defects. (p.iii-iv of English translation)

File:Andreas Elias Buchner.jpg

He discusses Amman’s oral method –

indeed, the accurate attention to, and careful imitation of, all the particular motions requisite to the articulation of sounds, constitute the whole of Amman’s method.  As in this, or in any other method of the same kind, the organs of hearing contribute nothing to the effect, it may indeed, be employed in all the defects and imperfections of the auditory organs, by which either deafness or a difficulty of hearing is produced.  This method, is however, subject to several considerable imperfections, which render it greatly inferior to the following methods, by which the auditory nerve itself is made at the same time to be affected. (p.20)

He discusses Sebastian Truchel’s ‘acoustic drum’ that he had demonstrated to the Royal Academy of Science in Paris in 1718 -“A person hard of hearing in both ears, may, by means of a semicircle of brass or silver, which goes round the hinder part of the head, under the hair or peruke, fasten two such drums to his ears” (p. 24-5).  He talks of other methods of ‘hearing’ vibration – “Conrad Victor Scheider, so celebrated for his description of the mucose glands of the nose, in his book, De ossibus temporum, published at Wittemburg in 1653, in 8vo, p. 43, relates the same thing of some peasants, who sticking their staves in the earth, held one end in their teeth” (p. 28).  Further on he says, “the deaf person may hear very well, on holding, by the lower rim, a beer-glass, to the upper teeth” (p.42).

His method of getting someone to ‘hear’ seems to have involved feeling vibrarions via some material – essentially using bone conduction.  The German original is much longer than the English version, so there may well be much more to it.

Andreas Büchner had a correspondence with Linnaeus.  In 1760, just after the book here was published, he wrote saying that he had not answered Linnaeus earlier as at the beginning of August, Austrian troops had invaded Halle and the surrounding country.  The summary of the letter tells us that they

“extorted a heavy tax, more than 300,000 imperial thalers, from the inhabitants, even the professors, before they left at the end of October.  About then, the painter and engraver Gottfried August Gründler had been taken ill and lain in bed for several weeks so that Büchner could not get the delineation of a Cancer [presumably a crab] that he wanted to send to Linnaeus.”

Büchner asked him for a specimen of particular butterfly that featured in the 10th edition of Systemma Naturae.  Buchner 1

On this page he discusses the history of deaf education, covering Peter Pontius, Paul Bonnet, John Wallis,  and so on.

I found very little on Andreas Elias Büchner on a brief search.  Perhaps he is a forgotten figure in the history of science, or perhaps he is only marginal.    If you have had an opportunity to read the original book in full, please make a comment.

Curiously there is a modern Andreas Büchner who works on hearing – an onomastic nominative determinism? http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/lary.23214/abstract

[Picture of Büchner from Wikimedia Commons]

Wikipedia entry

An easy and very practicable method to enable deaf persons to hear: together with a brief account of, and some reflections and observations upon, the several attempts formerly made for the benefit of such persons.  London, MDCCLXX. [1770]. Available from Eighteenth Century Texts, online.

Abhandlung von einer besonderen und leichten Art, Taube hörend zu machen : Nebst noch einigen andern vormals besonders bekannt gemachten Medicinischen Abhandlungen.  Published in Halle in two parts, 1759 & 1760

Zelle, Carsten, Experiment, Observation, Self-observation.  Empiricism and the ‘Reasonable Physicians’ of the Early Enlightenment. Zelle / Early Science and Medicine 18 (2013) 453-470.

“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.

“Truly, he was a good man” – The Rev. Charles Orpen, Founder of the Claremont Institution

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 30 October 2015

Orpen 001Born in Cork in 1791, Charles Edward Herbert Orpen founded the first Institution for the Deaf in Ireland.  According to his biographer, Emma Lucretia le Fanu, mother of Sheridan Le Fanu, he was supposed to become a doctor, proceeded to do an apprenticeship and then discovered his teacher was not a licentiate of the Dublin College of Surgeons, so he had to embark on a new apprenticeship.  When Charles finally qualified, he toured in England, visiting ‘hospitals, prisons, manufactories &c.’ (Orpen 1836, p.ix).  According to his book ‘Anecdotes’, one of the people he visited was Dr. De Lys in Birmingham, who gave him a report on the newly established Birmingham institution.Orpen Anecdotes

While resident in Edinburgh and London, I had never even heard of the existence of such Asylums in these capitals; and in such ignorance then was I as to the wretched state of the Deaf-mute when uneducated, and the importance and interesting nature of their instruction, that I took so little interest about them, as not even to visit the school in Birmingham at that time.  On looking into the Report, however, I found that it originated from a few lectures on the subject, and the exhibition of a little girl, whom Dr. De Lys and his friend Alexander Blair, Esq. had partially educated for that purpose.  I knew that no such school had ever existed in Ireland; and it occurred to me, that perhaps I might at some future time be able to apply the same means to the same end, for the good of my own country. (ibid, p.ix-x)

Dedication OrpenWe have a copy of Orpen’s concisely titled book, The Contrast between Atheism, Paganism and Christianity, Illustrated; or, the Uneducated Deaf and Dumb, as Heathens, Compared with those who have been Instructed in Language and Revelation, and Taught by the Holy Spirit, as Christians (1828).  It is dedicated by Orpen to Edmond Nugent, Lord Mayor of Dublin in 1827-8.  It appeared in a second edition, as Anecdotes and Annals of the Deaf and Dumb (1836). In it, Orpen tells us how he took a neglected orphaned child called Thomas Collins from a Dublin institution where Orpen had served his apprenticeship under Surgeon Todd, the House of Industry.  Fumbling his way along, being ignorant of teaching, he eventually got the child to acquire some vocabulary and ability to pronounce words and letters (Quarterly Review of Deaf Mute Education, p.365, Anecdotes p.x).  Collins became an appentice printer and printed Orpen’s Anecdotes (p.xi).  The idea of taking an ‘exibition pupil’ like this to demonstrate to the public what might be achieved in the education of a deaf child, was not unique of course.

Inevitably for the period, Orpen was religiously motivated, and the passages he writes in the Anecdotes  demonstrate this.  He is at pains to say that Thomas Collins “knows himself as a sinner, and the Lord Jesus Christ as the only Saviour” (p.xi).

There never was but one missionary to the Deaf and Dumb; that missionary was a Jew ; that Jew was Jesus. Shall we be innocent, if we do not teach them to read his history? (p.384)

Orpen was also supportive of the use of sign lanuage, and in the Anecdotes, where each chapter is supported by extended quotes from various sources, for example p.474-6 qoutes Mr. Lewis Weld of the Pennsylvanian Institute, “it is is capable of expressing the nicest shades of thought, and of application to all the concerns of life.”

As well as supporting the education of Deaf people in sign language, he supported the use of Irish Gaelic, and the Anti-Slavery Society.  In 1823 he married Alicia Sirr, and had a large family (Le Fanu, Chapter 11).  In 1826 when Thomas Collins had a pocket watch, the gift of the Doctor’s brother, stolen, at the trial orpen interpreted for the court (p.106-7).  This shows us that he must have been an able signer.  In 1833 Orpen left Dublin, hoping to open a school in Birkenhead, but it fell through (Le Fanu p.124, p.128-9).  “Schemes at variance with long-established systems and confirmed habits seldom meet with success till after a great length of time has elapsed” (ibid).

When two of his sons went to sea, and were so taken with the beauties of the Cape that they decided to stay there, Orpen determined to follow them, arriving in 1848 (ibid p.137).  Orpen, who was ordained in South Africa, opposed slavery and the exclusion of black people from the Dutch churches (p.210-2).  Le Fanu says of slavery, “Those who have had opportunities of seeing it best know how it brutalizes those who are bent on perpetuating it for their own sordid objects” (ibid p.217).  Orpen died on the 20th of April, 1856 (ibid p.237).  Le Fanu ends her biography, “Truly, he was a good man” (ibid p.243).

Wikipedia entry on Orpen

Charles Edward Herbert Orpen, Anecdotes and Annals of the Deaf and Dumb, 1836 [library historical books]

Claremont 1A Magazine Intended chiefly for the Deaf and Dumb, Vol.3, No. 30, p.86-7

Quarterly Review of Deaf-Mute Education, 1888, 1, 364-374.

British Deaf-Mute and Deaf Chronicle, 1895, 4, 145-146. (illus)

Educating the deaf of Ireland. III. The work at Claremont. British Deaf Times, 1904, 1(10), 217-19. (photos)

POLLARD, R. The Avenue: the history of the Claremont Institution (1816-1978). The author, 2001. (illus)

UPDATE: 3/11/2015

Rachel Pollard produced another more extensive book on the Claremont Institution, under the same title in 2006 –
The Avenue: A History of the Claremont Institution, Denzille Press ISBN-10: 0955323908

Roots of Audiology – the Audiometer

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 15 May 2015

Modern audiology was only really possible with late 19th century advances in technology and the understanding of electromagnetism that allowed for the measurement of hearing ability.  This allowed the invention of the audiometer, then the development of transistors to replace valves enabled the amplification of sound in a convenient portable device, which became the ‘modern’ hearing aid in the 1940s.

The audiologist has roots in both the medical and the technical –

  • there were the otolaryngologists, doctors who treated and investigated hearing,
  • then there were those who sold instruments like ear trumpets and their ilk, the dispensers,
  • and there were the scientists who developed the theories of acoustics, and the instruments that were used to measure hearing.

One of the latter was David Edward Hughes who was a pioneer of the microphone (which we covered in a previous blog).  Hughes, a great experimenter, developed his ‘audiometer’ at around the same time (1879), and it was first mentioned in his article in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, On an Induction-Currents Balance, and Experimental Researches Made Therewith.

During the course of these experiments with this instrument I noticed my own hearing powers varied very much with state of health, weather, &c., that different individuals had wide differences of hearing, and that in nearly all cases one ear was more sensitive than the other; thus whilst my degree of hearing was 10, another might be 60 in one ear and 15 in another.*

*To this portion of my instrument when used as a measurer of our hearing powers, we have given the name of audiometer.

( Hughes 1879 p.58)

AudiometerThe Illustrated London News (see picture with the sonometer to the left and the audiometer numbered 4) described the device –

The audiometer, an adaptation of the sonometer, being an instrument for exactly measuring our power of hearing and chronicling the progress of recovery from deafness. It was first applied by Dr. Richardson to some very remarkable investigations relative to our hearing powers.  a is the scale measured into 200 millimetres.  bb are the two primary fixed coils, both exactly similar to those in the sonometer as to length and size of wire, although what should be the thinner coil is here padded out, so that they look both alike as to depth.

The wires from these coils are connected with the microphone, c, and Leelanche’s battery cells, dd; e, secondary and moving coil, connected through the binding screws, ff, to the telephone, h. The switch, g is a brass arm pivoted on an ebony plate, on which are also fixed two brass studs. The free end of arm placed over either of these gives either the force of one or, when desired, two cells, the stronger current being used only for very deaf patients. (Illustrated London News , 1879)

Benjamin Ward Richardson, a great friend of Hughes, experimented with this instrument, and coined the name.

“In this preliminary report I have omitted many subjects of interest, but I hope I have related enough to show that the world of science in general, and the world of medicine in particular,is under a deep debt of gratitude to Professor Hughes for his simple and beautiful instrument, which I have christened the audimeter, or less correctly but more euphoniously, the audiometer.” (Richardson, 1879)

Richardson was a close friend of John Snow of cholera fame, and a remarkable man in his own right, being a physician, sanitarian, anaesthetist and historian of medicine.

In his 1979 article on Hughes and his audiometer, Stephens says Hughes “does not appear to have been interested in the application of his audiometer”.  Hughes was awarded a Royal Society Gold Medal in 1885, and his funeral in Highgate was attended by the U.S. ambassador as well as representatives of the governments of Serbia, France and Greece (Stephens, p.3).  Richardson was also diverted by his many other interests and did not pursue research with the audiometer.

T.Hawksley, who manufactured and sold hearing devices, went into production with the “Hughes’ Sonometer” in 1883, and it seems it was still available as late as 1912 (Stephens p.4).

Audiometers do not seem to have taken off however, and Stephens says there are few references to them in the otolaryngological textbooks of the period.  It was only with the increased use of valve audiometers in the 1930s that audiology as a separate discipline began to find its own place.

Hughes, D.E., On an Induction-Currents Balance, and Experimental Researches Made Therewith, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, 1879 Volume 29, pp. 56-65

Hughes’s Electric Sonometer and Balance, and Audiometer.Illustrated London News (London, England), Saturday, November 15, 1879; pg. 463; Issue 2109

Richardson, B.W., Some Researches with Professor Hughes’ New Instrument for the Measurement of Hearing; the Audiometer, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, 1879 Volume 29, pp. 65-70

Stephens, S.D.G., David Edward Hughes and his audiometer. Journal of Laryngology and Otology, 1979, Volume 93 pp.1-6