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Wind turbines and sleep – a short literature search

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 7 September 2016

After tweeting a recent article on wind turbine noise and sleep (the third below) I thought it might be timely to look at some recent articles in Medline.  Some of these are freely available – follow the links to PubMed to see the abstracts or the articles where available.  It will not have escaped some of you that wind turbines can also affect wildlife.  There is one particular article just out that surveys the literature with regard the cetaceans, freely available, Consolidating the State of Knowledge: A Synoptical Review of Wind Energy’s Wildlife Effects.

As ever, when you consider how valuable an article it is, examine it critically, for example sample size, whether it is original research or a review article, and so on.  This wiki page may help if you are new to this.

Jalali L, Nezhad-Ahmadi MR, Gohari M, Bigelow P, McColl S.  The impact of psychological factors on self-reported sleep disturbance among people living in the vicinity of wind turbines. Environ Res. 2016 Jul;148:401-10. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2016.04.020. Epub 2016 Apr 29.

Michaud DS, Feder K, Keith SE, Voicescu SA, Marro L, Than J, Guay M, Denning A, McGuire D, Bower T, Lavigne E, Murray BJ, Weiss SK, van den Berg F.  Exposure to wind turbine noise: Perceptual responses and reported health effects. J Acoust Soc Am. 2016 Mar;139(3):1443-54. doi: 10.1121/1.4942391.

Kageyama T, Yano T, Kuwano S, Sueoka S, Tachibana H. Exposure-response relationship of wind turbine noise with self-reported symptoms of sleep and health problems: A nationwide socioacoustic survey in Japan.Noise Health. 2016 Mar-Apr;18(81):53-61. doi: 10.4103/1463-1741.178478.

Michaud DS, Feder K, Keith SE, Voicescu SA, Marro L, Than J, Guay M, Denning A, Murray BJ, Weiss SK, Villeneuve PJ, van den Berg F, Bower T. Effects of Wind Turbine Noise on Self-Reported and Objective Measures of Sleep.Sleep. 2016 Jan 1;39(1):97-109. doi: 10.5665/sleep.5326.

Abbasi M, Monazzam MR, Akbarzadeh A, Zakerian SA, Ebrahimi MH. Impact of wind turbine sound on general health, sleep disturbance and annoyance of workers: a pilot- study in Manjil wind farm, Iran.  J Environ Health Sci Eng. 2015 Oct 12;13:71. doi: 10.1186/s40201-015-0225-8. eCollection 2015.

Feder K, Michaud DS, Keith SE, Voicescu SA, Marro L, Than J, Guay M, Denning A, Bower TJ, Lavigne E, Whelan C, van den Berg F.  An assessment of quality of life using the WHOQOL-BREF among participants living in the vicinity of wind turbines.Environ Res. 2015 Oct;142:227-38. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2015.06.043. Epub 2015 Jul 11.

Onakpoya IJ, O’Sullivan J, Thompson MJ, Heneghan CJ. The effect of wind turbine noise on sleep and quality of life: A systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies.Environ Int. 2015 Sep;82:1-9. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2015.04.014. Epub 2015 May 16. Review.

Schmidt JH, Klokker M. Health effects related to wind turbine noise exposure: a systematic review.PLoS One. 2014 Dec 4;9(12):e114183. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0114183. eCollection 2014. Review.

Magari SR, Smith CE, Schiff M, Rohr AC. Evaluation of community response to wind turbine-related noise in western New York state.Noise Health. 2014 Jul-Aug;16(71):228-39. doi: 10.4103/1463-1741.137060.

Knopper LD, Ollson CA, McCallum LC, Whitfield Aslund ML, Berger RG, Souweine K, McDaniel M.  Wind turbines and human health.Front Public Health. 2014 Jun 19;2:63. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2014.00063. eCollection 2014. Review.

Pawlaczyk-Łuszczyńska M, Dudarewicz A, Zaborowski K, Zamojska-Daniszewska M, Waszkowska M.  Evaluation of annoyance from the wind turbine noise: a pilot study. Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 2014 Jun;27(3):364-88. doi: 10.2478/s13382-014-0252-1. Epub 2014 May 13.

Rubin GJ, Burns M, Wessely S.  Possible psychological mechanisms for “wind turbine syndrome”. On the windmills of your mind.Noise Health. 2014 Mar-Apr;16(69):116-22. doi: 10.4103/1463-1741.132099.

Roberts JD, Roberts MA.  Wind turbines: is there a human health risk? J Environ Health. 2013 Apr;75(8):8-13, 16-7.

Hume KI, Brink M, Basner M. Effects of environmental noise on sleep. Noise Health. 2012 Nov-Dec;14(61):297-302. doi: 10.4103/1463-1741.104897. Review.

Nissenbaum MA, Aramini JJ, Hanning CD.  Effects of industrial wind turbine noise on sleep and health. Noise Health. 2012 Sep-Oct;14(60):237-43. doi: 10.4103/1463-1741.102961.

Chapman S. Editorial ignored 17 reviews on wind turbines and health. BMJ. 2012 May 15;344:e3366; author reply e3367. doi: 10.1136/bmj.e3366. No abstract available.

Bakker RH, Pedersen E, van den Berg GP, Stewart RE, Lok W, Bouma J. Impact of wind turbine sound on annoyance, self-reported sleep disturbance and psychological distress. Sci Total Environ. 2012 May 15;425:42-51. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2012.03.005. Epub 2012 Apr 3.

Shepherd D, McBride D, Welch D, Dirks KN, Hill EM.  Evaluating the impact of wind turbine noise on health-related quality of life.Noise Health. 2011 Sep-Oct;13(54):333-9. doi: 10.4103/1463-1741.85502.

Knopper LD, Ollson CA. Health effects and wind turbines: a review of the literature. Environ Health. 2011 Sep 14;10:78. doi: 10.1186/1476-069X-10-78. Review.

Pedersen E, Persson Waye K.  Wind turbine noise, annoyance and self-reported health and well-being in different living environments. Occup Environ Med. 2007 Jul;64(7):480-6. Epub 2007 Mar 1.

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 tragedy from 1906 with a modern resonance

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 15 July 2016

I came across a very short item in the British Deaf Times for October, 1906, p.225, which led me to discover more about a Lincolnshire family from over a century ago, and a tragic event.

Harriet Shaw was born in Grimsby in 1826/7, and christened on the 27th of February. According to various census returns she was born deaf. Her parents were Elizabeth, or ‘Betsey’, and William Shaw, who was a shipbuilder, neither being described as deaf on the census. In 1848 she married a Hull man, Robert Matthews, a ship’s carpenter who later became a shipwright like his father-in-law. They had at least six children, William Joseph, born in 1850, who became a boilermaker, Robert, a carpenter, born c. 1853, George, also trained as a carpenter, born c. 1856, Emma born c. 1860, Hannah born in c. 1864, and Elizabeth born in c. 1868. William, Hannah and Elizabeth, were all, like their mother, born deaf, according to the census returns. The 1861 census says that George was also deaf, but he is not described as deaf in the 1871 census. Clearly census returns are not infallible, relying on the information of informants who may not have been thorough in their admissions to the enumerator, and enumerators were also mistaken or careless on occasions. It is a great pity that we have few early reports from local deaf missions, and those we have for Hull, East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire are rather patchy. Local papers might tell us more, and there must have been an inquest. It seems very likely (I would stress without firm evidence) that in a family like this where mother and many children were deaf, that they would have signed.

William, the oldest child, never married. The tragedy is that, on the 6th of September 1906, his sister, probably the youngest sister Elizabeth who was still living at home with her brother, found him hanged in a workshop. One can only imagine what desperation, despair and disillusionment, led him to this, but the truth is that Deaf people are more vulnerable to isolation and mental health issues.  A Mad Act

Sheffield 1914In 1882 Emma Matthews married a Deaf man from Sheffield, Thomas Gilley Bentley, an engraver, and they had at least one Deaf child, Victoria Maud Bentley, born in 1887. That is the third generation from Harriet Shaw. The 1911 census shows that the Bentleys had ten children, six surviving at that time. Victoria married Albert B Clarke in 1918. Albert, born c. 1889, was also Deaf from childhood. From the above annual report for Sheffield, we can see that Thomas Bentley was involved with the Sheffield Association in Aid if the Deaf and Dumb. Perhaps we have the sort of idea of ‘deaf ethnicity’ here in the Matthews/Shaw/Bentley/Clarke families – see Lane et. al for a discussion of this.

At that time George Stephenson was still working with the Association, which leads me to suggest that anyone interested in the history of Deaf people in the late 19th and early 20th century, may be interested to read Nick Waite’s new book, Alone in a Silent World, which covers this period and the long association of the Stephensons with the Sheffield Deaf community.


I have heard of a recent case which resonates with the story of William Matthews, although of course we know very little other than the outline of William’s story.

This open access article from 2007 is a review of the literature on Deaf people and Suicide up to that point – Suicide in deaf populations: a literature review.  That article has been widely cited.  This links to PubMed article abstracts using the search terms mental health and deaf.  The British Society for Mental Health and Deafness (BSMHD) “focuses entirely on the promotion of the positive mental health of deaf people.”  Additionally the Samaritans have an email contact jo@samaritans.org

Lane, H., Pillard, R.C. & Hedberg, U. The People of the Eye : Deaf Ethnicity and Ancestry.  2011

1851 Census – Class: HO107; Piece: 2113; Folio: 202; Page: 13; GSU roll: 87742

1861 Census – Class: RG 9; Piece: 2389; Folio: 55; Page: 15; GSU roll: 542964

1871 Census – Class: RG10; Piece: 3414; Folio: 63; Page: 22; GSU roll: 839406

1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 3270; Folio: 36; Page: 24; GSU roll: 1341780

Hannah and Emma in the 1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 3815; Folio: 133; Page: 8; GSU roll: 6098925

William in the 1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 3089; Folio: 62; Page: 36

Albert in the 1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 4375; Folio: 57; Page: 26

“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



“Mr. Greaterick stroked him again, rubbed his Body all over with Spittle” – An account of Mr. Greaterick and his Miraculous Cures.

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 25 September 2015

Lincolnshire born Henry Stubbe or Stubbes (1632-76) grew up in Ireland after his ‘anabaptistically inclined’ father was expelled from his living as Rector of Partney.  His mother took him to London in 1641 after the rising, and he attended Westminster School where he excelled at languages.  The OED entry says “Stubbe’s sharp tongue and conceit often caused him to be ‘kick’d and beaten’ by his fellow students and, on one occasion at least, publicly whipped in the college’s refectory ” (ODNB).  After his BA and then serving in the Parliamentary army for two years, Stubbes returned to Oxford and was was appointed deputy keeper of the Bodleian Library (ibid).  Around this time he became friends with various luminaries of the time including Thomas Hobbes and Thomas Willis, a founder member of the Royal Society.  After studying medicine and writing The Indian Nectar, or, A Discourse Concerning Chocolata (1662), he eventually settled in Warwickshire.  It was there that he came across Valentine Greaterick or  Greatrakes and wrote a book about him.  The Miraculous Conformist, or An account or severall Marvailous Cures performed by the stroaking of the Hands of Mr. Valentine Greaterick, with a Physicall Discourse thereupon, in a Letter to the Honourable Robert Boyle Esq. (1666).  Greaterick 0 001

This book, which begins with an address to Willis, has really very little to do with deafness, apart from this short gem, which probably explains why Selwyn Oxley added it to the collection –

I saw him put his Finger into the Eares of a man who was very think of Hearing; and immediately he heard me when I asked him very softly severall questions. I saw another whom he had touched three Weeks agoe for a Deadnesse in one Eare, who I had known to be so many years: I stopped the other Eare very close, and I found him to hear very well, as we spoke in a tone no way raysed beyond our ordinary conversation.(p.6)

Greaterick was a ‘stroker’, using his hands to rub the body of the patient and effect a ‘cure’ by rubbing the sickness out, perhaps through the toes.  Stubbes was at pains to say that any cures were through God and not the devil, and that Greaterick prayed – “I observed that he used no manner of Charmes, or unlawful words; sometimes he Ejaculated a short prayer before he cured any, and always after he had done he bad them give God the Praise.” (p.8).  People noticed that he smelt fragrant, and “Dean Rust observed his Urine to smell like Violets, though he had eat nothing that might give it that scent.” (p.11).

the notion I have concerning Mr. Greatericks is the most facile, for I imagine no more to be in him, than a particular Temperament, or implanted Ferment, which upon his touching and stroking shall so farre invigorate the blood, spirits, and innate temperament of the part (Nature being only oppressed) that they performe their usuall duties: This being done, it is Nature Cures the Diseases and distempers and infirmities, it is Nature makes them fly up and down the Body so as they do: they avoyd not his Hand, but his Touch and stroke so invigorateth the parts that they reject the Heterogenous Ferment, ’till it be outed the Body at some of those parts he is thought to stroke it out at.

Considering that our life is but a Fermentation of the Blood, nervous Liquor, and innate constitution of the parts of our Body, I conceive I have represented those hints and proofs which may render it imaginable that Mr. Greatericks by his stroking may introduce an oppressed Fermentation into the Blood and Nerves, and resuscitate the oppressed Nature of the parts. (p.14)

It is easy to laugh now but these were days before modern medicine when any attention for a desperate person from someone who might effect a treatment would be welcome.  However I cannot resist a few more examples.  Greaterick is supposed to have cured, in the presence of Lord Conway, a boy of fourteen of leprosy.

Mr. Greaterick stroked him again, rubbed his Body all over with Spittle.  My Lord ordered the Boy to return, if he were not Cured: but he came no more (p.28).

We are not told whose saliva, but anyway the dice are loaded – he should have had the boy return if cured.

A woman of Worcester having a paine driven into those parts which modesty would not permit her to let Mr. Greaterick stroke: she went away as if she had been cured, but is since sick of an intolerable pain there.  Such consequences are usuall, when the Disease is not stroked out (p.29).

Stubbe later fell out with the nascent Royal Society – “Not only did Stubbe believe that the protagonists’ claims regarding the utility of science were vastly exaggerated, but he was convinced that their inflammatory rhetoric seriously threatened the humanist culture of the universities, the erudite foundations upon which protestantism rested, as well as the medical profession.” (ODNB)  Stubbes, who clearly had a talent for controversy, drowned in a shallow River near Bath, as his friend Anthony Wood wrote, “‘his head being then intoxicated with bibbing, but more with talking, and snuffing of powder’” (quoted in ODNB).

Below, Greaterick stokes Lord Arlington – click for a larger image.

Greaterick 1 001Mordechai Feingold, ‘Stubbe , Henry (1632–1676)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/26734, accessed 25 Sept 2015]

Carl B. Estabrook, ‘Stubbes , Henry (1605/6–1678)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/26735, accessed 25 Sept 2015]

Oliver Sacks and “Seeing Voices”

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 18 September 2015

This week’s post is by Edmund Lyonseeing voices

Oliver Sacks, who died recently, was perhaps most familiar to the public as the author of The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat. However, among his other books was Seeing Voices: A Journey Into The World Of The Deaf, a fact which was only mentioned in one or two of the obituaries which have appeared. Seeing Voices is a fascinating triptych, its three parts combining to give insights not only into deaf history and deaf communication – including the Oralist / signing controversy – but also into deaf culture and deaf activism: the book culminates in a description and analysis of the deaf students’ uprising at Gallaudet University in March 1988 (details of this appear on the Gallaudet website).

Sacks’ exploration of deafness is sensitive and revealing, making Seeing Voices a good starting point for any exploration of the world of the deaf. Although it focuses on deaf people in the United States, the themes Sacks teases out are relevant to the United Kingdom too – and can be pursued through the books we hold in the Action on Hearing Loss Library.

Seeing Voices was published 26 years ago this month, in September 1989, and remains in print. sacks


“we were enabled to ward off the small-pox” – The Indiana Asylum

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 20 March 2015

To show that our collection is not merely parochial but of international interest, we have a visit to our American cousins today.

I discovered that we have two overlapping bound volumes of the Indiana Asylum for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb.  The paper is beautiful in quality, the annual reports were printed and bound together in 1855, ten years after they were produced.  The Asylum took young people between the ages of ten and thirty, which seems quite an interesting age bracket, but quite progressive when you consider how difficult the transition from youth and dependence to maturity and independence is for young people anyway, and perhaps more so for Deaf young people.Indiana 1

The building is impressive and substantial looking, and the state levied a property tax in order to build it.  Its founder, William Willard, was a pupil of Laurent Clerc.

There are lists of pupils, stating the (supposed) cause of their deafness.  These would be interesting to analyse as they present a substantial data set.

Indiana 2One of the charms of this type of publication, is the stories they published that were written by the pupils.  Here is one –

By a Boy Two Years Under Instruction
A boy was walking along the road and he met a drunkard. He laughed at the drunkard, and he threw his bottle at him and hurt him much. A man ran and carried him home. His mother was troubled and called the doctor. The doctor came and put some court-plaster on his head, and he got well again and he ran about the city. His mother told him he must not laugh at the drunkard, for if you will laugh at the drunkard he will kill you. The boy obeyed his mother. (1854 p.63)

Indiana alphabet 2The Institute’s physician, Livingston Dunlap, shows frustration in his November 1st 1854 report, when during a smallpox outbreak, he vaccinated the scholars, only to find that “a thoughtless woman came with a child while laboring under genuine varioloid to the asylum – and in a few days, the 23rd of March, five girls showed evidence of having varioloid; it spread immediately among the girls and boys until twenty-six were down with the disease, and continued until the 26th April, at which time they were all capable of attending to their duties in school.  By the timely application of the vaccination, we were enabled to ward off the small-pox and have the varioloid*, which has terminated so favorably, that no deformity was left upon the fac, nor any other undesirable result.” (p.43, 1854)

*Varioloid is a milder form of smallpox in those who have had it or been vaccinated.

Indiana Asylum for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb Annual Reports 1-15, and 11-24

A urine soaked record – the Bath Home and a homeopathic hospital

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 23 January 2015

In our collection we have a big thick green-bound ledger, measuring approximately 13 1/4″ by 8 3/4″.  A torn bit of paper on the front cover indicates that it was used by the Poolemead Home for Deaf Women, at 9 and 10 Walcot Parade, Bath, to record names and details of the inmates.

Homeopathic WalcotThe home, founded in 1868, became known as the Deaf and Dumb Industrial Home, then was taken over by the National Institute for the Deaf in 1932, and moved to ‘Poolemead’ at Twerton-on-Avon, near Bath, in 1933, and is now known as the Leopold Muller Deaf Home.

The Story of how the home began is related in Silent World (1946) –

An old four-page pamphlet, grubbed up from the archives of 105 Gower Street, and believed to be the only copy in existence, told me all there was to know about the beginning s of what we now call “Poolemead”.  How the Reverend Fountain Elwin, of Temple Church, Bristol, found a little deaf mute girl in his parish and took her into his home; of how the family moved to Bath; and how his daughter and her friend Miss White went about the city looking for deaf and dumb children, found several neglected little waif, and began to teach them in a rented room in Orange Grove.

A Hundred Years Ago

This must have been about 1832, for our pamphlet tells us that Miss Elwin began her life’s work among the deaf when she was eighteen, and she was born in 1814.  she died when she was ninety.

Her early efforts went so well and aroused so much interest that in 1840 a Committee was formed and premises taken over at 9 Walcot Parade.  In 1868 a home for adults was started, and by the middle 1890’s the adult work had far outstripped the school.  The State was beginning to accept its proper duty of educating the young, and by 1897 the school had been closed altogether and the Charity Commissioners had agreed to the accumulated funds and property being used entirely for the home.

So the Bath Home for Deaf and Dumb Women came properly into being.

What became of the  leaflet I cannot say –  it is possible it survives in the collection hidden somewhere.  We have very little for Bristol in general (two late 19th century reports from the Bristol Institute are ‘missing’) and nothing from Bath, so I cannot compare anything in the way of annual reports for the home.  The founder was Jane Elwin, Fountain Elwin’s daughter.  Initially I connected him with the Elwin family in Norfolk, who produced another Fountain Elwin around the same time, but census returns show he was born in Middlesex circa 1784.  I believe that they may well have been related.  Elwin was ordained in 1810 and ended up at Bristol’s large (now ruined) Temple Church.  He died in Bath in 1869 aged 85.  Jane was born in Bedminster, dying in 1904.  The 1901 census describes her as having ‘senile decay’.

The 1851 census shows a seventeen year old house maid, Elizabeth Buck, who was ‘deaf and dumb’ – surely this might be the deaf girl taken in by Elwin?   She was not described as deaf on the 1841 census.

If I discover anything more about Jane Elwin and Bath I will update this page.

The ledger illuminates other information we can find on the census (and no doubt other records).  For example, the first person listed for the Bath home is Harriet Ball – see below on the left (click to enlarge).  She was “deaf and dumb from a scald when two years old, her right arm amputated, she was one of the first to enter the home”.  An audiologist I consulted suggests that she may have had non-organic hearing loss, but it is far more likely that she had hearing loss that had not previously been detected.  The Bath Home seems to have used the ledger into the 1930s, though with only basic information on the later entries.

Ball clarkePrior to its use by the Bath Home, the ledger started life in Norwich as we can see from the plate in the inside front cover here.

Fletcher alexanderNow look again at the front plate at the top of the page and underneath the label we can make out the words ‘Homeopathic Hospital’.  It was originally used then by one of two possible homeopathic hospitals in Norwich at that time, the first entry being for a Susan Bush in 1856, the last in 1860 by …son (name partly concealed).  Here is an example of a patient in 1856, and I have chosen one who was deaf – Eliza Landamore.  Click for a larger size.

Eliza LandamoreA second example is below – and again I chose a person with a hearing problem, Susanna Denny who has ‘ottorhea’.Susanna Denny

Another patient, Robert Rippingale, born in 1843 in Catton (near Norwich)

Septr. 9th 1856 “For the last six years has had scrofulous swellings of the neck [from?] the remains of an old sore. Perfectly adherent to the bone of the lower jaw. His general health has been tolerably good. Has been an outpatient of the Norwich Hospital but without benefit.
Silica [6?]
16th Rather better ”
23rd Still improving Sulph + Silica

Robert did not live long – sadly he died in 1864.

At some point in 1860 I would surmise, the ledger met with an unfortunate accident.  Having read the heading of the article I think you will know where I am going with this…  Someone spilt urine onto the ledger, sticking many pages together.  Sadly some idiot later attempted to part the pages, damaging many.  It still smells very strongly of the cause of this accident!  However, clearly, as it was only partly used someone decided that it still had plenty of life left in it.  Quite how it travelled from Norwich to Bath we can only guess, but as you read above there was some sort of a possible connection with the Elwin family of Bath and Elwins in Norwich (a Robert Fountain Elwin was a rector in Norfolk).

If anyone recognises the hand that the Norwich part of the record was written in, please let us know.  There is no name in the front, so I cannot be sure who first used the book.  The Bath part was probably written by Emily Walker Morgan, head of the home in 1911 (aged 45) where the handwriting matches that at the start of the Bath part of the ledger.  I surmise it was first used by her around 1910.

Later enties show the handwriting getting shakier into the 1930s before it changes, and the record is less detailed.

Silent World, 1946, October, p.112-4

1841 Census – Class: HO107; Piece: 970; Book: 3; Civil Parish: Walcot; County: Somerset; Enumeration District: 5; Folio: 7; Page: 6; Line: 20; GSU roll: 474610 (for the Elwins)

1841 Census – Class: HO107; Piece: 931; Book: 13; Civil Parish: Lyncombe and Widcombe; County: Somerset; Enumeration District: 4; Folio: 27; Page: 5; Line: 18; GSU roll: 474593 (for Elizabeth Buck)

1851 Census – Class: HO107; Piece: 1943; Folio: 464; Page: 32; GSU roll: 221102

1861 Census – Class: RG 9; Piece: 1690; Folio: 53; Page: 6; GSU roll: 542851

1871 Census – Class: RG10; Piece: 2487; Folio: 55; Page: 5; GSU roll: 835196

1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 2438; Folio: 30; Page: 4; GSU roll: 1341587

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 1935; Folio: 53; Page: 7; GSU roll: 6097045

1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 2341; Folio: 19; Page: 4

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 14715; Schedule Number: 333

Inmates in 1911 on the census –
Name Relation to Head Birth Date Age Gender Marital Status Occupation Birth Place Address

Emily Walker Morgan Head   1866    45   Female Single  Head Matron Of Institution   Dublin 10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Elizabeth Martin   Assistant    1868    43   Female Widowed   Assistant Matron   Bath, Somerset  10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Harriett Ball               1857    54        Female Single             Paddington, London, England    10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Frances Clark             1846    65        Female Single             Paddington, London, England    10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Elizabeth Chambers    1848    63        Female Single             Liverpool, Lancashire             10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Ann Rogers                1850    61        Female Single             Bridgend, Glamorganshire      10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Louisa Tickett            1857    54        Female Single             Mile End, London, England   10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Elizabeth Townson     1882    29        Female Single             Liverpool, Lancashire             10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Ellen Hillyer               1857    54        Female Single             Dorchester, Dorset                  10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Ann Adams                1857    54        Female Single             Milton Nr Lymmington, Hampshire   10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Eliza Curl                   1875    36        Female Single             Dereham, Norfolk                   10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Emily Hubbard           1864    47        Female Single             West Ham, London, England 10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Honor Ninnes             1886    25        Female Single             St Ives, Cornwall                    10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Elizabeth White          1846   65        Female Single             Devizes, Somerset                   10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Charlotte Lowndes     1871   40        Female Single             Brighton, Sussex                     10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Annie Shepherd          1872   39        Female Single             Leeds, Yorkshire                     10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Georgina Fuller           1850   61        Female Single             Norwood, Surrey                    10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Ellen Smith                1888    23        Female Single             Paddington, London, England  10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Annie Crouch             1873    38        Female Single             Hammersmith, London, England   10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Alice Turner               1872    39        Female Single             Eastbourne, Kent                    10 Walcot Parade, Bath

A 1933 Letter from the League of Nations: Ludwik Rajchman, Medical Director

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 17 October 2014

In a half-filled folio sized scrap book of Selwyn Oxley’s, various letters and odd documents were gathered by him or his wife Kate, from when he first became involved as a ‘missioner to the deaf’ in 1914, through to the 1930s.  Together with a small number of short letters from Dr. Eicholz (who we hope to cover in a future item), there is this letter which appears below.  The League of Nations was conducting an enquiry into Deafness, and Selwyn Oxley obviously wrote to say that he was willing to be of assistance, presumably with information and contacts.  The content of the letter is not particularly interesting, but the author is.

Ludwik Rajchman letter
Ludwik Rajchman (1881-1965) was from another of those remarkable families who produced a number of brilliant people, doctors, engineers and mathematicians.  He was born in Poland, son of the musician Aleksander Rajchman, and became a bacteriologist.  When aged only fourteen he was in trouble for distributing ‘subversive’ literature – educational brochures in Polish, which was suppressed by the Russian rulers (Duchene, 1999).  When he was caught at a banned socialist meeting in 1906, Rajchman was exiled.  After working in Paris at the Institut Pasteur, he became head of the Royal Institute of Public Health in London in 1911, though at the time he spoke no English.  The 1911 census shows him as Ludwig Witold Rajchman*, and he signs his name as such, born in Russian Poland, having been married to Mary Clotilde for six years, with two daughters, Irene Mary born in France in 1909, and Marte Alexandra, eleven months old, born in Austrian Poland.  His computer scientist son Jan Rajchman was born in London later in 1911, so the children came in quick succession.  In 1918 he returned to newly liberated Poland and helped set up the National Institute for Public Health, being so successful that he was asked to become head of the new League of Nations Medical Directorate in 1921 (Duchene, 1999).

The health section persuaded national administrators to co-ordinate statistics, standards, training, research, nutrition and infant care, all of them new fields, especially for international involvement. It made a much bigger impact than any other operational arm of the League and so was dogged by opposition of all kinds, from hostile nations, jealous institutes and conservative officials. (ibid)

After the Second  World War he was for political reasons rejected as a potential head for the WHO, but he went on to help found UNICEF.

Rajchman deserves to be better remembered as one of the great public health workers of the 20th century.

Duchene, Francois, Plotter for progress. Ludwik Rajchman, Medical Statesman by Balitiska, Marta A. (author)
The Times Literary Supplement (London, England), Friday, February 19, 1999; pg. 28; Issue 5002.  Category: Book Review [accessed 17/10/14]

*Living at 16 Hargreave Villas, Hartswood Road, Stamford Brook Road, London W., with an Austrian Polish servant Tekla Lacheta, Class: RG14; Piece: 200

There is a biography by a grand daughter of his –

Balinska, Marta Aleksandra, For the Good of Humanity: Ludwik Rajchman, Medical Statesman, New York : Central European University Press, 1998
[Held in UCL this in the SSEES Library P.XVIII.3 RAJ BAL]

This book looks potentially interesting –

Borowy, Iris, Coming to Terms with World Health: The League of Nations Health Organisation, Peter Lang GmbH,  2009



National Institute for the Deaf Medical Scrapbook, circa 1935

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 5 September 2014

As a conduit & clearing house for information on all aspects of hearing loss and deafness, the National Institute for the Deaf (N.I.D., now Action on Hearing Loss) was careful to gather information or stories that encompassed these topics in the popular press and in academic journals to which they had access.  This scrapbook from 1935 is illustrative of this.  It contains cuttings from a wide variety of papers and journals on medical aspects of hearing loss and deafness.  As it was the 1920s, when the topic of eugenics was extremely popular, many of the stories touch on that, some in favour and some against.

In one image we read about the huge number of Germans who were being sterilised, in the other we see sterilisation arguments in the British press.

Another story from 28th of march 1935 in the Daily Express, says that the Rotherham Schools Medical Officer, Dr. A.C. Turner

believes that more than 1,000 of the children under his care have varying degrees of deafness – but their class-rooms are too noisy for him to find out!

Recently his department bought a portable audiometer – a delicate instrument used in the testing of hearing – and his assistants have been going from school to school searching in vain for a room quiet enough to use the apparatus.
“Before the audiometer can function accurately we must have a room with perfect quiet,” Dr. Turner told me.

“We cannot find one! Each room we have tested has had so many distracting noises that the recordings are incomplete.

“I am advocating an aural clinic in which the audiometer could be installed in a sound-proof room.”

Perhaps someone in the Rotherham area interested in medical history could find out more about Dr. Turner and see if or when he got his room.

Click onto the images for a larger scale view.

scrapbook 1 scrapbook 2