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“they lose the dull heavy look of a deaf mute…” – Oralist supporter, the Lip-reading teacher, Eliza Frances Boultbee

Hugh Dominic WStiles16 August 2019

Eliza Frances Boultbee (1860-1925) was the daughter of Marian and James Boultbee.  At the time of her birth in Staffordshire, her father was a curate, and in the 1861 census they were staying with her grandfather Thomas Boultbee, who was Vicar of Bidford, Warwickshire.  James Boultbee became Vicar of Wrangthorn, Leeds, from 1866-1908.  Eliza’s younger sister, Anne Gertrude Boultbee (1867-87) was born deaf, and according to the Boultbee family history website, she was taught to lip-read by Eliza.  Presumably this was how she developed her interest in deaf education and oralism.  This is where I hit myself on the forehead, for I have come across the name Boultbee before, though I could not recall the context.  Annie Boultbee was a pupil of the oralist teacher John Barber, at his Edgeware Road school in 1881, who I wrote about exactly one year ago!

In the introduction of her book Practical lip-reading for the use of the deaf  (1902), summarising the history of deaf education through the ages (the familiar litany of Ponce de Leon, Juan Pablo Bonet, William Holder, John Conrad Amman, Samuel Heinicke etc), she makes clear her oralist agenda.  I quote at length to illustrate that. After calling de l’Epee a ‘benevolent man’, she continues –

Heinicke’s system, as we understand it now, enables the deaf to use their voices in the shape of language, and the sense of sight is taught to recognise the varying motions made by the lips and tongue in speaking.  In fact, it enables them to converse as do hearing people; thus they naturally learn much they would have been in ignorance of, had they been left to the companionship of those who only understand by signs.  They listen, as it were, with their eyes.  They are no longer shunned, but looked upon with wonder and interest.  The system gives them an increase of bodily health, constant speech increasing the respiratory action, and consequently inducing greater development of the lungs, making them thus less prone to pulmonary diseases.

In addition to this, they have an improved expression of countenance, they lose the dull heavy look of a deaf mute whose facial muscles are chiefly used in the process of mastication.  Their lives are happier, their disposition improved, and their suspicion of hearing persons decreased.

They are less likely to marry among their deaf allies, and can be instructed in the duties of religion and daily life by any clergyman.  On the other hand, De l’Eppe, by his system, gave signs as the language of thought.  When translated either with the written or spoken word, we soon find they do not follow in the grammatical order of any language, and that conversation is carried on, especially by the pupils, in a very confusing method.

The late Mr. A. A. Kinsey, to whom I have already referred, who did much in his day to diffuse the Oral System in England, refers in one of his pamphlets to this. He proves most convincingly how injurious is the system of teaching by signs : ” The order of the sign language,” he says, ” is an inverted order, and totally at variance with the construction of the English language ; so far from assisting its pupils to a correct expression, it tends to prevent their attaining it.”  He gives an authentic literal translation of the Lord’s Prayer from signs used at an asylum for deaf mutes :

” Father your and mine Heaven ; name Thy hallowed; Kingdom Thy come, men and women all; will Thy done, angels obey people all like ; day this, clay every, give bread, drink, clothes, things all, temptation we fall not; but devil bondage deliver; for Kingdom Thy, power Thy, glory Thy, for ever. Amen.”

Heinicke saw clearly that there could be no combination of these two methods—they are antagonistic in principle. (Boultbee, 1902, p.15-17)

Here is an excerpt from page 18, where Boultbee praises the Milan Conference.

It seems that, like Kinsey, she failed to understand that sign languages have their own structure and syntax, and are not merely the transposition of spoke language into signs.  In fact, to be fair, it took a long period for linguistics to recognise that.

Many thanks to Geoff Eagling for alerting me to Eliza as a student at the Ealing Training College, an oralist foundation which trained a mass of almost exclusively female teachers.  She would have attended from 1882, completing her studies there in 1883, at the same time as Mary Hare.   I have not found her in the 1891 census, but the surname seems to have presented a difficulty to the modern transcribers.  We can say, from a newspaper advertisement in The Queen for Saturday the 15th of September, 1894, that she must have started teaching in 1884 –

LIP READING.—This can be taught at any age to those born deaf or who have become more or leas deaf.  With deaf children to eight years of age is the best time to begin.  In cases of deafness in adult life, lip reading is taught much more readily, and with patience and perseverance a dozen or two dozen lessons, according to circumstances in each case, will be sufficient for complete and permanent mastery of the art.  No knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of the organs of speech is required in the learner, though the teacher must have a thorough knowledge of both. The lessons ore extremely simple and easy to understand.  Particulars as to alienist and time required in any particular cue can be obtained by applying to Miss E. F. Boultbee, 37, Gloucester-place, Portman-square, W, who has successfully taught the system for ten years past, and who is always willing to answer applications for information.

At the time of the 1901 census, Eliza was staying with the Scottish minister and journalist, William Robertson Nicoll in Hampstead, London, and is described as a school teacher working on her own account at home.

In the 1911 census, when Eliza Boultbee was living in Members Mansions, 36 Victoria Street, S.W. London (her address in her 1903 book and her 1913 book), with Joyce Visger Lloyd (1895-1984), a sixteen year old deaf girl who was born in Assam, and was presumably a private pupil.  Her grandfather was Major-General Francis Thomas Lloyd, R.A.,who was commandant of Woolwich from 1887–1901.  Joyce married William Whitham Coultas in 1919, and he went into the diplomatic service.  Joyce travelled with him to South East Asia and there is a lovely photograph of them in that link.

A review of her 1913 book, in The Norther Whig for the 18th of December, 1913, says,

Lip-reading is a method conversation wherein the eyes of the deaf replace their ears, and they see instead of hear the words of the speaker as they leave his lips. The many advantages of this method —its rapidity, for one thing, and the fact that it enables anyone talk to the deaf without knowledge of the sign language (not part of the equipment of the normal individual) —are self-evident that one cannot understand why Miss Boultbee should think it necessary to drive them home at such length. Even for those who happily preserve their sense bearing, one can imagine it becoming fascinating and at times useful pursuit. the technical side Miss Boultbee’s book consists of chapters on the mechanism of speech and how to teach, learn, and practise lip-reading. Hints are given to the deaf on the art of conversation, and all the influence of such things as cheerfulness, tact, concentration, and apathy. Sir James F. Goodhart, M.D., supplies an introduction to what should prove a useful and stimulating little work.

Eliza Boultbee died at a nursing home in Bedfordshire in 1925.

UPDATE 21/8/2019

More Miss Boultbees

Thanks to the prompt from Geoff Eagling, below, I can also say that the youngest sister of Eliza, Agnes Clara Boultbee (1875-1951), also attended the Ealing College, from 1893-4, after which she taught at the Norther Counties Institution in Newcastle, presumably giving that up when she married the Rev. James Wallace, Vicar of Barnsbury, in 1906.  It seems probable that she was also the Miss Boultbee who was teaching at the Ealing College’s associated schools, Eaton Rise and Elmhurst, and left in April 1902 according to a newspaper report  (Middlesex & Surrey Express – Wednesday 08 July 1903).

Regarding the two other Miss Boultbees, the 1911 student, Miss M. Boultbee, who worked afterwards at the Ealing College, and Marjorie Boultbee who qualified in 1916, one is probably the Marjorie Boultbee who was a niece of Eliza and Agnes, daughter of their (vicar) brother Henry Travis, and born in 1889, married 1932 to the Reverend Hugh Birley.  I suspect this Marjorie was the person who advertised “MISS MARJORIE BOULTBEE (Certificated Teacher of the Deaf) gives Lessons in Lip- Reading to the Deaf and Partially Deaf. For terms apply ESSEX LODGE, LIVERPOOL GARDENS, Worthing” in the Worthing Gazette – Wednesday 11 June 1919.  Trying to find them in the 1911 census is tricky to say the least!

Anyway, I think we can be confidant that they were all closely related.

Boultbee, E.F. Practical lip-reading for the use of the deaf. 1902

Boultbee, E.F. Help for the deaf – what lipreading is. 1913

1861 Census – Class: RG 9; Piece: 2236; Folio: 28; Page: 5; GSU roll: 542940

1871 Census – Class: RG10; Piece: 4562; Folio: 130; Page: 21; GSU roll: 847141

1881 Census – Eliza – Class: RG11; Piece: 4538; Folio: 6; Page: 5; GSU roll: 1342092

1881 Census – Annie – Class: RG11; Piece: 1362; Folio: 38; Page: 12; GSU roll: 1341330

1891 Census – not found her – it seems the transcribers have trouble with the surname…

1901 Census – Eliza Boultbee – Class: RG13; Piece: 120; Folio: 118; Page: 27

1901 census – Joyce Lloyd – Class: RG13; Piece: 564; Folio: 10; Page: 12

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 492

William Whitham Coultas

Annie Scandrett of Liverpool – a supposed miracle cure of a ‘deaf’ woman, 1923

Hugh Dominic WStiles19 July 2019

In 1923 the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lancashire sent a group of people to the shrine at Lourdes with Archbishop Keating.  Among them was a soldier, Jack Traynor, badly wounded in the war, and supposedly a man who was then miraculously cured.  The visit was filmed as a short reel film called “Our lady of Lourdes” and was shown in cinemas in Liverpool.

One story in the Liverpool Echo, has a photo of Traynor and Scandrett, with the following note –

WALKING AND HEARING AFTER LOURDES.

Mr. Traynor. of Liverpool, who was taken to Lourdes in a bathchair, pacing the deck of the Channel boat on the way home, chatting with Miss Scandrett, also of Liverpool, who says Lourdes has cured her of her deafness. Mr. Traynor, an ex-naval man, was wounded in the war, and paralysis followed. Miss Scandrett had been practically deaf for 12 years.

Traynor is only of passing interest to us as he was not deaf, and I have nothing to say about his ‘miracle,’ but Annie Scandrett is worth investigating a little more.

Traynor said to the Rev. Patrick O’Connor,

a Protestant girl from Liverpool had come to the Continent on a holiday tour.  She got tired of all the usual show places and happened to come to Lourdes. She was a trained nurse and, seeing all the sick, she offered her services to help in the ‘Asile.’  Her parents in England, upset at her decision to stay as a volunteer worker in Lourdes, sent out her sister to keep her company.  The two girls went down to see the Liverpool pilgrims.  They remembered having seen me sitting in my wheelchair outside my house at home and they volunteered to take care of me. I gladly accepted their kind offer, and they washed and dressed my sores and looked after me during my stay in Lourdes. (see I Met a Miracle)

Note that he fails to mention her name, even though he knew it.  Annie was born in Liverpool on the 24th of September, 1884.  At some point the family moved to Aston, Birmingham, where she was living still in 1911.The film seems to have been propaganda for the church.  At one film showing at the Egremont, Annie was persuaded to stand up and talk (The Bioscope).  It would be interesting to know if the film still exists.

Her story was revived in 2016 when a former neighbour spoke to a local paper.  He related what Annie had said –

She said she had been sat by his bedside in his room one day when a white dove came through the window and circled right round.  It then landed on the headboard of the bed.  Annie had been deaf but the next morning when she went down to breakfast she realised she could hear again.  The first words she heard were ‘please can you pass the butter’.

Traynor does not mention a dove, the accepted typical bird of ‘miracles,’ representing the holy spirit.

It certainly seems curious that she chose to holiday in the area in 1923, as it was quite unusual for working people to go on holiday to the continent at that time, so I suspect that her visit was planned, but of course we cannot know now.

There is no mention of deafness on any of the three census returns.  She claimed her ‘deafness’ had lasted for twelve years, from around 1911.  If we had the 1921 census that might be revealing, however her ‘deafness’ is undefined, and I would suggest that she probably was never ‘deaf’ as we might understand it.  At any rate we can agree that it was probably a defining moment in her life.

Annie lived in Norris Green, Liverpool, until her death in 1961.

1891 census – Class: RG12; Piece: 2422; Folio: 132; Page: 25

1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 2885; Folio: 104; Page: 9

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 18328

1939 Register – RG 101/4390D

The Bioscope – Thursday 13 September 1923 p.64 

Liverpool Echo – Monday 30 July 1923 p.6

The above picture is from our photo collection – Probably from the Liverpool Daily Post.

War-time Belgian Refugees, 1914-18

Hugh Dominic WStiles12 July 2019

During the First World War Belgium was over run by the Germans, and there were many refugees.  Here we have a group of Deaf refugees.  I have no idea where these people were, possibly the photo was in London but I cannot be certain.  Modern Belgium seems extremely divided in its Deaf communities, Flemish and Walloon – see this Wikipedia article on Flemish Sign Language but I suppose that was less the case in the war.

I wonder if anyone recognises the people in this group.  To me, the three ladies look very similar – perhaps they were sisters.  I have not had time to look for information in the British Deaf Times, but I am sure there are some mentions of refugees.  All the major Deaf Schools in Belgium and in north-east France would have been affected or perhaps closed.  After the war a group of London Deaf went on a visit to areas affected by the conflict, particularly Lille.  I hope to cover that in a future blog.

Gatrell, Peter, Zhvanko, Liubov (eds) Europe on the Move: Refugees in the Era of the Great War. MUP, 2017

Jenkinson, Jacqueline, Belgian Refugees in First World War Britain. Routledge, 2017

Henrietta Oliver, aka Mrs Henrietta Pratt of Thatcham – “the barest bones of Deaf History”

Hugh Dominic WStiles21 June 2019

This is an example of the barest bones of Deaf History, and as such is typical, not just of a Deaf person in the last centuries, but of any ordinary person who led a relatively quiet life.

Henrietta Jane Oliver was born on the 8th of August, 1860, in Baughurst, Hampshire.  She seems to have been deaf from an early age – some census returns say ‘from birth’ some ‘from childhood’.  Her parents, David Oliver and Hannah Smith, were agricultural workers, though her father was a carrier for a while.  It seems probable that she did not get an education at a deaf school but as she would have attended one some time in the 1870s it may be that a search would find her.  In 1881 and 901 censuses she was living with her mother, as respectively a wool sorter and then a laundress.  Her younger sister

Her younger sister, Emily Kate Oliver (b. 1872) married Warwickshire born William Pratt in about 1900.  William’s uncle, Thomas, does not seem to have married, but presumably meeting Henrietta through her sister, they got together, and she married Thomas Pratt, in 1905 when she was 44 and he was 57.

Thomas Pratt, who was born in Culworth, near Banbury, Northamptonshire, in 1849, was not deaf according to the 1911 census, but as you will see from Selwyn Oxley’s inimitable scrawl, it is possible that he was deaf when Oxley met him in the 1920s – he wrote “Mr & Mrs Pratt (D & D)”-  that  could  be  read  either way.  Thomas  had  been  a groom in 1901, living in Thatcham with his brother and his family.  In 1911 he was a ‘retail  hawker  of  firewood’ – perhaps that is why he later had a donkey?

I wonder if she attended the Reading Mission at all?  I am not sure how Oxley came across her, but there are photographs of a well-off Thatcham farmer and his family, George Wallis, so perhaps they were somehow acquainted and introduced Oxley to Mrs Pratt.

Henrietta died in 1953 aged 92.

A photograph and some census records – I have no more to add – but a careful search of records might dig up further details.Nice hat!

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 6390; Schedule Number: 247

1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 1143; Folio: 74; Page: 2

1891 Census – I could not find her

1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 1266; Folio: 141; Page: 8; GSU roll: 1341309

1871 Census – Class: RG10; Piece: 1246; Folio: 147; Page: 10; GSU roll: 827837

1861 Census – Class: RG 9; Piece: 718; Folio: 133; Page: 18; GSU roll: 542690

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

Hugh Dominic WStiles17 May 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

US Census returns

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

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

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

Kerr’s Gallaudet page

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

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

Adele M George Kerr

Marcus H Kerr

 

Mary Hickman, a Deaf schoolgirl of Manchester (1890-1978)

Hugh Dominic WStiles14 December 2018

In 1905 the King and Queen went to Salford to open the New Dock.  They also stopped at Henshaw’s Blind Asylum, and The Royal Schools for the Deaf and Dumb, where the pupils did what children do when they meet royalty – they gave them bouquets.*  The girl here from the Deaf School, whose photograph first appeared in the Penny Illusatrated Paper, is Mary Hickman (1890-1978), who was Head Girl at the school.

When told that she was to present the Queen with a boquet, Miss Hickman was naturally both proud and elated, and it goes without saying that her mind was fully occupied until the very auspicious Thursday dawned.  According to the newspaper reporters, she played her part in the little ceremony very neatly; and to our representative she naively confessed that sh “did not feel a bit nervous.  The Queen was very lovely and the Kinglooked very jolly.” (British Deaf Times)

Born on the 17th of November, 1890, Mary Hickman lost her hearing aged five and a half according to the 1911 census and the school annual report (1903), from meningitis.  When she was seven she entered the Manchester school, on the 28th of January, 1898.  She was due to leave on the 17th of November, 1906 when she was sixteen.  When she was at the school her father, salford born Walter, was a clerk.  He later became a newsagent and tobacconist according to the 1911 census, when they lived in 224 Ashton Old Road, Openshaw.  They were presumably in long gone terraced housing, as the two daughters and son shared a four room house with their parents.  Mary had studied for certificates with the College of Preceptors, the oldest professional body for teachers, but we find that in 1911 she was working as a ‘tracer’ for engineers – presumably in a drawing office.

I found that her sister married in 1915, but she seems to have stayed at home, and in the 1939 register she was in Station Road, living with her father.  It seems a pity that she never got to teach, but we cannot be sure that she did not – we really have too little information.  Perhaps schools would not contemplate taking on a Deaf teacher in the first decades of the 20th century.

Mary died in Manchester in 1978.

If you know anything of her life, please comment below.

*I think someone could probably write an interesting study on the history and sociology of children giving royalty bouquets!

NB I thought this is funny – on the 1911 census her father filled in the nationality – not required unless foreign –

Deaf Girl’s Unique Experience, British Deaf Times 1905, vol 2 (22) p.217

Census 1891 – Class: RG13; Piece: 3938; Folio: 95; Page: 35

Census 1901- Class: RG13; Piece: 3667; Folio: 208; Page: 8

Census 1911 – Class: RG14; Piece: 23729

1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/4546A

Penny Illustrated PaperSaturday 22 July 1905

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

Hugh Dominic WStiles16 November 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are times when it improves –

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

Then she is told how serious her condition is –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marie Bashkirtseff. Part 2 her later life and diaries

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

Marie Bashkirtseff. Part 1 The portraitist and feminist

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

Her paintings:

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

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

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

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

 

“Oh – Ted – this seems like a beautiful dream!” she enunciated. “Hope – and Cheer! A friendly Magazine of Interest For The Deaf, And Conducted By The Deaf”

Hugh Dominic WStiles29 June 2018

In an untidily amateurishly stitched together collection of programmes and oddments for the Royal Association in Aid of the Deaf and Dumb in our collection*, there lies a curious mimeographed magazine, called – with the title in inverted commas – “Hope – and Cheer!”  It continues with the sub-heading, ‘A friendly Magazine of Interest For The Deaf, And Conducted By The Deaf.’  It was edited by Tom Kelsall and Alice Christina Burnett (1874-1961).  It assures us it was produced by Deaf people, so we must accept that Kelsall and Burnett were deaf, although Alice is not described as such in any census I could see.  As we have discussed before though, that could be for a number of reasons, for example because someone else (her husband or father) filled in the form, or because she did not think it was a disability, or perhaps she was not profoundly deaf.

Alice was born in Edinburgh, on the 19th of September, 1874, daughter of Alice Stuart and George Burnett, who was Lord Lyon King of Arms.  A living relative of his was also a Herald.  In 1881 they lived at 21 Walker Street, Edinburgh.  In 1902 she married Louis Holloway, and in 1911 they were living on a private income, in Oxford Villas, Ryde, on the Isle of Wight.

As an aside, it is very curious that Louis, born in Southampton, was living on his own means in 1901, with his father who was a bricklayer’s labourer.  Louis was 26 – how did he make his money, and how did he meet and woo Alice?

I have not been able to pin down Alice’s fellow editor, Tom Kelsall, who had been seriously ill, delaying this second edition of “Hope – and Cheer!” that came out in June-July, whatever year.  Logic suggests they were quite familiar with each other from some social situation, and had had ample time to discuss this magazine before starting it.  The content suggests it was a wartime production.  I do not suppose it lasted very long.  There is a rather maudlin tale written by Alice, called The lonely man and the lonely girl, that tells us how a Deaf girl starts a correspondence with a soldier, and it all ends happily –

He held out his arms to her.
And she went to them.
“Oh – Ted – this seems like a beautiful dream!” she enunciated.
He seemed so strong, so kind, so good to trust in!
“It is – the dream of my life, but it’s quite real,” he answered on his fingers – “Before my leave is over, then?”
She nodded shyly.

There is a paragraph, with ‘Our Monthly Problem – Whether you would rather be Deaf, of Blind.’  I recall having seen this sort of item before, even in old copies of British Deaf Times.

Cutliffe Hyne dwells upon the doom of deafness.  Sir Arthur Pearson declares deafness to be worse than blindness, and Sir Ferederick Milner agrees with him.  Mr. Wilson of the National Hostels for Deafened Soldiers and Sailors, on the contrary , say, “I would rather be deaf, dumb, and have two wooden legs, and only one arm, than be blind.”  What is your opinion? and why?  We award a prize of 3/- for the best letter, of within 200 words, on this subject.

Alice also offers handwriting analysis under the name ‘Grapho.’

“Hope – and Cheer!” contains some adverts. One from a widow, Mrs Margaret Chubb (1854-1950), formerly Jenkins, was offering rooms to rent in Penzance.  She was Deaf from Smallpox, aged 3 according to the 1911 census, when she was living at the same address with her son.  Her husband, who she married in 1888, was Richard Chubb (1852-?), a tailor from Devonshire.  Richard had also been ‘deaf and dumb’ and attended the Institution for the Blind, Deaf and Dumb at Walcot, Bath, where we find him in 1861, aged nine.

Finally, there is an advert from Samuel Driver of Leeds for ‘agents’ to run ‘Chocolate Clubs’ which I assume were along the lines of Christmas clubs.  If I have identified the correct Samuel, born in Keighley in 1888, he was not deaf – but his mechanic father Thomas Driver (1859-?) was, as was also their lodger, Eliza Dunn (b.ca.1868), who worked as a ‘Worsted Rover’.  Thomas, son of a mechanic Wilkinson Driver, was deaf from childhood and had already been identified as such aged two.

How did these people find out about “Hope – and Cheer!”?  How did Alice Holloway/Burnett and Tom Kelsall meet, and how did they distribute the magazine?  How long did it survive?  Are other copies in existence, or it this unique?  As with the previous post, we can see that exploring one trivial thing can open a world of forgotten connections.  There are plenty of further avenues to explore with this disparate collection of people.

Click images for a larger size.

If you can identify Kelsall please leave a comment.

*They were bound by L.Burroughs, ‘deaf and dumb’ in July, 1922.

UPDATE – [2/7/18] a relative by marriage of Alice adds this information – “In the 1939 Register Ref: RG101/2650C/005/18 Alice and Louis are living at 53 Argyll Street, Ryde, I.O.W. Her Birthdate is confirmed as 19 Sep 1874 and his given as 17? Feb 1880. Her occupation is given as “W V S Red Cross Hospital Supply Service” and his as “Private Means” Her Death was registered aged 86 Q1 1961 vol 6b page 1093 Isle of Wight His death registered Q3 1973 Isle of Wight. His Birth date given as 14 Feb 1880.”

Alice Burnett

1881 Scottish Census – Parish: St George; ED: 91; Page: 4; Line: 1; Roll: cssct1881_283

1901 Scottish Census – Parish: Edinburgh St George; ED: 1; Page: 9; Line: 21; Roll: CSSCT1901_363

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 5721; Schedule Number: 122

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Burnett

Margaret Chubb

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 1857; Folio: 74; Page: 11 – with Richard Chubb

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 14071; Schedule Number: 173

1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/6699A

Richard Chubb

1861 Census – Class: RG 9; Piece: 1690; Folio: 53; Page: 5; GSU roll: 542851

Thomas Driver

1861 Census – Class: RG 9; Piece: 3227; Folio: 45; Page: 37; GSU roll: 543099

1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 4076; Folio: 174; Page: 28

Louis Holloway

1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 1079; Folio: 7; Page: 5

Three Deaf Ladies of Liverpool, “respected and loved by all who know them”

Hugh Dominic WStiles26 June 2018

In The British Deaf Times for January-February 1921 has this charming picture of three deaf ladies.  The paper of this issue, and some from late in the war, was acidic in quality, and has deteriorated seriously in the last few years as it has been well-thumbed by users.  This volume really needs restoration – that involves sandwiching those pages within some opaque material, but that makes pages less clear.  An ideal solution would be proper digitisation.

All three were “deaf and dumb, and have been from birth.”  The lady in the centre is Miss Mary.E.Walker (her initials were M.A.E. or perhaps M.E.A.).  She was born on January the 1st 1836 in Leeds.  The article tells us she was deaf from birth, but the censuses omit that information.  She was a ‘lady visitor to the deaf,’ by which we must suppose she worked with local missioners, visited Deaf people in her community, and presumably prayed with them.  I suppose it was a sort of community support worker role.  At any rate, she did that for thirty-five years, presumably able to support herself ‘by her own means’ as the census says, having a wealthy family background.

Margaret C. Hawkins on the left, was born in 1841.  She died in 1923.  She was also a ‘lady visitor,’ connected to the Liverpool Society.  In the 1881 census, where she is recorded as deaf and dumb, she was a teacher, living at a convalescent home for children at Black Moss Lane, Maghull, Lancashire.

On the right, Miss Mary Housman was born in Liverpool in January 1844.  By 1901 she was living with Margaret in 76 Rosebery Street, Toxteth.  Looking at it on Street-view now shows that it is long gone.  It would once have been neat back-to-back housing, and their neighbours in 1901 were in occupations such as clerks, chemists, a police sargeant, and a stevedore, whereas most of the housing left is run-down, and the remaining terrace of once pretty houses looks as if it is condemned.  Interestingly, the two ladies, both described as ‘deaf and dumb from childhood,’ had two other Deaf lodgers, Robert Fletcher Housman (1846-1921) who was her brother, and Anne (Annie) Jackson, b.1844.  The Housman family was from Skerton,Lancashire, their parents, Robert Fletcher and Agnes were ‘landed proprietors.’  Robert junior was described as deaf in the 1861 census but his sister as deaf and dumb.

Anne Jackson was born in Lichfield, Staffordshire.  She was a servant working for Housman and Hawkins in 1891, but by 1911 is described as living with them under her own means.  In 1891 they were in 24 Jermyn Street,  which is not too far from their later home in Rosebery Street.  Margaret Hawkins was described as a ‘lady Visitor’ which the enumerator has misunderstood as meaning she was not head of the household, and ‘Deaf and dumb from birth.’  The other members of the household are described as ‘Deaf and dumb.’  As well as Mary Housman as a boarder and the servant Annie Jackson, there was also an Eliza Jane Hudson, b.1852 in Carnarvon, as a boarder, and Mary Rigby, b.ca.1840 in Liverpool.
In 1871 Rigby was living with her widowed mother, in Slater Street.  She was ‘Deaf from Fever’ which explains why she was not marked as deaf on earlier censuses.

By 1911 the three were living together at 14 Hatherley Street, Liverpool, the next street down from Rosebery Street.  A certain P.H. Morris, b.ca. 1874, in St. Helen’s, ‘Deaf from born,’ is there as a boarder.  I tried looking for a female P.H. Morris to no avail, but there is a Philip Hornby Morris who was born in the right place and was the right age to fit.  As the age column has been altered – the usual 1911 census error where people did not read the form before filling it in – I wonder if our deaf P.H. Morris is him… I am open to correction!

In 1921 when the article was written, they lived together at Prenton, Birkenhead, all three being, we are told, ‘staunch churchwomen.’  The were, we are assured, “respected and loved by all who know them.”  They were part of a network of Deaf people, and we might assume there were other boarders and visitors from the Deaf community in the north west in the intervening years not covered by the censuses.  It would make an interesting project to follow the lives of all these peoplewith some sort of social network analysis.

An Appreciation.  The British Deaf Times 1921 p.8

Miss Walker

1841 Census – Class: HO107; Piece: 1346; Book: 4; Civil Parish: Leeds; County: Yorkshire; Enumeration District: 4; Folio: 26; Page: 2; Line: 10; GSU roll: 464289

1861 Census – Class: RG 9; Piece: 3357; Folio: 123; Page: 31; GSU roll: 543119 – Headingly with her sister Elizabeth

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 3463; Folio: 39; Page: 2 – Poulton Bare and Torrisholme, Lancs. as a visitor in a lodging house.

1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 4914; Folio: 78; Page: 21

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 22266

Miss Housman

1851 Census – Class: HO107; Piece: 2272; Folio: 106; Page: 56; GSU roll: 87299

1861 Census – Class: RG 9; Piece: 3156; Folio: 62; Page: 21; GSU roll: 543088

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 2936; Folio: 54; Page: 41

1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 3438; Folio: 41; Page: 21

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 22266

Miss Hawkins

1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 3744; Folio: 99; Page: 10; GSU roll: 1341896

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 2936; Folio: 54; Page: 41

1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 3438; Folio: 41; Page: 21

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 22266

Miss Rigby

1871 Census – Class: RG10; Piece: 3775; Folio: 46; Page: 33; GSU roll: 841888

1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 3651; Folio: 39; Page: 17; GSU roll: 1341875

Frances M. Parsons – Sound of the Stars

Hugh Dominic WStiles8 June 2018

Frances Margaret Parsons and Hester West Parsons were deaf twins from El Cajon, California. They were born in 1923 and it was not realized that they were deaf until they were five, or perhaps they lost their hearing aged five (see links at end).  The sisters were sent to the State School for the Deaf at Berkeley, but their father lost his job in the depression.  Their mother, Hester Tancre Parsons, missed her daughters who were boarding, and conceived a plan to move the family to Tahiti, which they did in 1935.

When she was fifteen, Frances began to keep a journal which was published in 1971 as Sound of the Stars.  The book covers the last two years on Tahiti, from the outbreak of war until their return to the U.S.A. in January 1941.  The book is full of strange and quirky characters, locals and colonials, and has line drawings in the text.

Back in California they finished their schooling, then Frances married in 1945 and then had two daughters.  She eventually completed a B.A. in Art History, which she then taught at Gallaudet.  Something went on there in the late 1980s between her and colleagues that meant she was “terminated from the position in 1988 and filed a grievance, followed by a civil suit.” (See here)

She travelled widely around the world, and describes in the preface of her book I Didn’t Hear the Dragon Roar (1988) how she was being mugged in Maputo when one of the muggers realized she was deaf he told her he had a deaf sister, and then he helped her up and returned her purse.

It seems that when she was asked to lecture in Argentina and other parts of the world, she realized that oralism was the dominant educational form and that inspired her to travel and encourage manual education (see here).  In her late 70s she had a cochlear implant, and this website says “Parsons never back down from her belief that fluency in English was the key to success in educating deaf children.”  Whatever had happened at Gallaudet in the 1980s was clearly forgiven enough for her to leave a large collection of papers to the college in her will.

She died when she was struck by a vehicle while walking her dog, in 2013, aged 90.

If you have a link to a proper obituary please comment below.

http://www.vad.org/Frances_Parsons_Lecture.html

http://videocatalog.gallaudet.edu/?video=13538

http://www.gallaudet.edu/archives-and-deaf-collections/collections/manuscripts/mss-207

Madras, India (by Frances Parsons)