By Hugh Dominic W Stiles, on 29 March 2019
According to Meir and Sandler’s 2008 book, A Language in Space: the Story of Israeli Sign Language (p.185), we know nothing of the signs used by deaf people, Jewish or Arabic, in the late Ottoman period in Jerusalem. Persecution in Europe in the 1930s saw immigration into British mandated Palestine, and an early Deaf immigrant was Moshe Bamberger, who arrived in Jerusalem in 1935 (ibid). A ‘Jewish School for Deaf Mutes’ had been established there in November, 1932, with the backing of a Jewish man from Shanghai who had lost his hearing, and a teacher from the Jewish Deaf School in Berlin was appointed as head.
The Jewish school for the deaf, which has the major part in the education of the deaf in Palestine, was called into being mainly by the efforts of the otologist, Dr. Marcus Salzberger, who soon after his settling in Palestine (1923) conceived the plan to establish such a school. As funds were necessary for such an undertaking, the carrying out of plan took several years. He found in Miss Jessie Samter of Rechowoth, near Tel-Aviv, a valuable aid who succeeded in procuring some funds from America. To manage the school they found an instructor who professed to have had training in Poland to teach the deaf. Under these auspices there was opened in 1930 in Tel-Aviv the first Jewish school for the deaf in Palestine, an enterprise which lasted for two years. In the year 1929 there died in Shanghai one Leone A. Levy, who at the age of thirty had become deaf. He left his fortune to the Alliance Israélite Universelle with the request that a school for the deaf be established in a Jewish center. Dr. Salzberger went to Paris and prevailed upon Professor Sylvain Levy, the then president of the Alliance, to found the school in Jerusalem under the direction of a specialist in the education of the deaf from Germany, the present director. It was opened in November 1932 with two pupils. (Höxter, p.118-9)
The influence of German sign Language (DSL) was important on the development of Israeli sign Language. Bamberger met two other Deaf people in Jerusalem, Aryeh Zuckerman, who had also been a pupil at the Berlin School at Weissensee, and a local man, Yehezkel Sella, and they formed the nucleus of the Jewish deaf community in Jerusalem (Meir and Sandler, p.186). Although the Jerusalem school was oralist at first, it seems that when they could the children naturally used sign language (ibid p.198). With contributions from immigrants from different places in Europe and native Deaf people, Israeli sign language had a mixed origin, which makes it interesting as a subject for linguists to study.
We have a document from 1969 by J. Shunary, attached below, which is a brief history of the formation of Israeli sign Language. One of the sources was Zillah Farkash. Neither of those people is mentioned in the index of Meir and Sandler, so perhaps they did not have this document. Shunary says,
it is very difficult to determine which of the original German signs did in fact displace local signs, and which were rejected by the local deaf population as being unsuitable. (For example, one source claims that the signs “not good,” “Jew,” and. “English” were discarded.) Usually the Germen signs, described by one veteran as highly flexible and refined, were accepted as being in accordance with the character of locally used signs. It in therefore probable that there was a process of mutual interaction between local and imported signs, with a resulting trend towards increased refinement and stylization [sic] of newly created signs.
At the end of the 1930’s and in the early 1940’s members of the deaf association customarily met on the Tel Aviv seashore and in a certain cafe on the main road, or in private homes. Although many were illiterate or poorly informed and were not able to obtain much information from the usual channels, this lack did not prevent them from playing important roles in the forming society. The home of three members served as a central meeting place. A central social role was also played by another member, a tailor of limited means. Although illiterate, he was an outstandingly warm host and his house was always crowded with visitors. Another focal meeting place was the home of “Educated” Egyptian-born brother and sister who had recently immigrated from France. Conversation at meetings concerned everyday affairs, work, current events, films they had seen, jokes mimed by a few members with considerable pantomimic talent and a good sense of humor, and naturally, plain gossip too. News items were related to those who were illiterate by the “Educated.” At that time group games as they are played. today were not the custom. However, the Europeans used to invent sketches, and programs were performed for special occasions, religious festivals, etc. A member who was hard of hearing served for some time as producer of these sketches. (Shunary, p.2)
There was also a French Convent School, St. Vincent, of which Höxter says, “In the convent school, deaf, blind and crippled children are under the care and instruction of French nuns. The number of deaf children and the method of instruction are unknown to the writer of this paper, as no visitors are admitted to this convent school.” (p.117)
The third school, was that run by Mary F. Chapman who I have written about with regard to her mission work in Ceylon and Burma. I will come back to that school in a future post.
A Pioneer again goes pioneering. Further work for the deaf and dumb in Palestine. British Deaf Times 1931, p.75
Höxter, Richard, The Deaf and Provision for Their Education in Palestine. American Annals of the Deaf Vol. 82, No. 2 (March, 1937), pp. 117-121
Meir, Irit, and Sandler, Wendy, (2008) A Language in Space: the Story of Israeli Sign Language. Chapter 11, The History of the Deaf Community in Israel p.185-216
Shunary, J., (1969), Social Background of the Israeli Sign Language
By Hugh Dominic W Stiles, on 22 March 2019
Vernon Herbert Jones was born in Islington on the 20th of October, 1882, son of a principal clerk with Thames Conservancy, Herbert Jones, and his wife Hellen Jones. In 1891 the family was living in Highbury Road, and in 1901 in Baalbec Road, which is by Highbury Fields. He went to Highbury College in London, then on to University College, Durham, where he became interested in work with the deaf community, under the influence of Canon Adamson, who had founded the Northumberland and Durham Deaf Mission. perhaps he was also influenced by his own increasing hearing loss. There were other churchmen in his family, the two brothers, Canon Rich Jones who ‘discovered’ the Saxon church at Bradford-on-Avon, and the Rev. Flood Jones, Precentor at Westminster Abbey.
Finishing his degree in 1907, he went to train at the Margate School, was ordained, and in 1910 appointed as Chaplain with the Royal Association in aid of the Deaf and Dumb, a position he held for the next 27 years, at St. Bede’s Clapham and then St. John of Beverley, Finsbury Park. It was his work there getting the building work done that earnt him the name “Godfather of the Deaf and Dumb.” He also edited the Deaf Church periodical, Ephphatha. He was made a Canon of Salisbury in 1945. He was involved in the work of both the B.D.D.A. and the N.I.D., and was a Freemason from 1912.
In 1920 he married Violet Watson (1893-1964) a deaf lady from Stoke Newington, who was according to the 1911 Census, ‘Deaf from birth.’ I do not know where she went to school or if she was privately educated. Vernon Jones collapsed and died in Highgate High Road on Saturday, June the 21st, 1947.
He wrote many articles over the years, including this pamphlet, The Challenge of the Sentry, which highlighted the additional risks that Deaf people were under during wartime, for example in the blackout being unable to hear traffic, and the risk of being shot by a sentry – something that did happen.
A friend of his told a newspaper reporter, “He was one of the country’s greatest experts on the sign language of the deaf. To see him ‘sign’ the Lord’s prayer was a wonderful experience – both for deaf people and for others.” Selwyn Oxley wrote his obituary in The British Deaf Times,
as a preacher we yield to none that he was one of the very best in the Anglican Church, whether in the spoken word or in Deaf Manual signs. he was simple, thoughtful, original, practical, suggestive, and always effective and one never heard him without learning something new and practical.
1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 177; Folio: 142; Page: 41
1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 201; Folio: 12; Page: 15
1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 2243
Violet Watson – 1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 1045
Obituary – The British Deaf Times, 1947, p.82-3
Obituary – Deaf Quarterly News, 1947, p.7
“How doth the little busy bee Improve each shining hour” – Mary Ann Frances Burnell – A Sampler, 1870
By Hugh Dominic W Stiles, on 15 March 2019
Mary Ann Frances Burnell was born in Cosgrove, Northamptonshire, in 1857, daughter of a labourer, William Burnell (aslo Burnal) and his wife, Elizabeth. She was not described as deaf in the 1861 census when she was three, but a later census says she was ‘deaf from birth’ (1891). She had at least one hearing brother and sister surviving, but many more that died very young.
This beautifully done sampler was made by her when she was a pupil at Edgbaston School, which she entered aged 9 in 1867, and left in 1873. It says,
How doth the little busy bee
Improve each shining hour
And gather honey all the day
From every opening flower
Mary Ann Frances Burnell
Aged 14 years 1870
Deaf and Dumb School
It may not surprise you to know that she became a lace-maker – Northamptonshire being famous for its lace at that time. In the 1881 census she was living with her parents in Cosgrove. By the late 19th century however, modern materials and methods of mass manufacture had ruined the old lace-making trade, and she and her mother were working as laundresses, a very tough job. Mary died in Oxfordshire, in 1947, never having married.
I wonder if the sampler came to us via Selwyn Oxley. He went on several mission trips to Oxfordshire and worked there in some capacity for a while on a voluntary basis.
On the left is a list of some of the pupils in the school in 1872. Click onto the image for a larger size. It is possible that we could find her in some of the mission news, but it seems likely that as an adult she was the only Deaf person in her immediate area, and she lived in a village rather than a town where she might have had the company of other Deaf people as she had at school.
The Embroidery & Seamstress pictures come from the 1857 book, An Illustrated Vocabulary Prepared for the use of the Deaf and Dumb.
1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 1537; Folio: 28; Page: 13; GSU roll: 1341370
1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 1189; Folio: 20; Page: 7
1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 1413; Folio: 25; Page: 13
1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 8351; Schedule Number: 79
Free BMD Deaths Mar 1947 Burnell, Mary A F aged 89 Oxford 6b 1242
The Rochdale Mission – “from advice in filling in forms to extensive case work with problem families” – the importance of mission work
By Hugh Dominic W Stiles, on 8 March 2019
The Rochdale Mission to the Deaf was an offshoot of the Bolton Mission, which had started in 1869. In 1907, Rochdale became a separate society, and the building illustrated here was built. The earliest mission report we have is for 1927, when the ‘Lady Superintendent and Missioner’ was Mrs Hoyle, who was still there in 1944 but had made way for Mr C. Crabtree by 1947. It seems that the previous year (1926) they had become affiliated with the National Institute for the Deaf, which had founded its own regional associations, including the Northern Counties Association for the Deaf. “This branch consists in the union of all the societies for the deaf in the six Northern Counties, and its object is mutual help and encouragement” (127 Report, p.2). That same year they celebrated the golden wedding of Mr & Mrs C. Birtwhistle, who were pioneers of the society.
The word “welfare” is used here as a general term. covering a wide range of services for the deaf, from advice in filling in forms to extensive case work with problem families. It would be impossible to mention every detailed piece of work which might be included under this heading so the following paragraphs are intended merely to outline the different types of problems encountered in welfare work for the deaf.
The complicated set-up of present-day social services means that all social work agencies have as an important function the interpretation of these services to the general public. The deaf general public, like the hearing. often do not know what help is available for a particular need, nor how to set about applying for it, but three consequencies [sic] of their disability further complicate matters for the deaf. Firstly, the difficulties of communication often prevent them from making use of the services even when they know they exist. Secondly, as a result of their limited education, they are often poor writers and readers, unable to cope with letters, papers and forms. And thirdly, as a consequence of their inability to understand and be understood by hearing people, the need for interpreting extends to more aspects of life than the social services. Religious and civil ceremonies, business transactions, legal work and many other matters have to be interpreted in two senses, i.e. the meaning has to be explained and the whole translated into language the deaf person understands.
Over the past twelve months the Superintendent of the Society has been called in to assist by interpreting in courts of law, in hospitals and doctors’ surgeries. opticians and dentists. He has been called in by probation officers, hospital almoners. officers of the National Assistance Board and Ministry of Labour, lawyers and solicitors, and officers of other Voluntary Societies. The deaf have enlisted the help of the Superintendent in dealing with hire purchase, National Health Insurance matters, pensions, income tax returns and refunds, trade union matters, and many other matters the deaf have found difficulty in understanding without assistance. (1962/3 Report, p.5)
We have reports for 1927-34, 1936/7, 1943/4, 1947-52, 1955-1966.
By Hugh Dominic W Stiles, on 8 March 2019
You may well have noticed that the look of the blog has changed. This is the result of a so-called ‘improvement’ which is nothing of the sort and unfortunately we have to live with it. It means that I cannot re-size pictures – they appear fixed in size no matter what I try. Also note that the title says the blog is ‘by’ and then has no name. I am sharing this information as I do not want people to think the messy look of older posts is how they originally appeared. I have written the blog for a number of years and this is the longest hiatus. I hope that something will be done to actually improve the new look, otherwise I may not continue to blog here.
Arthur MacDonald Cuttell -“He hoped that the day would come when the Union Jack… would fly over an open college door, where the deaf could secure higher education, which was their unquestionable right”
By Hugh Dominic W Stiles, on 8 February 2019
Arthur MacDonald Cuttell, (1869-1904), was an editor of Ephphatha and then later of the British Deaf Mute. Born in Cornwall, son of the Rev. A.W. Cuttell of Margate, he became deaf through scarlet fever when he was nine. He was educated at Helston Grammar School, then later in Matlock, Derbyshire. He was apprenticed at the Crown Derby Works, where he became an artist decorating ceramics.
It was whilst at Derby Mr. Cuttell’s attention seems to have been drawn to work upon behalf of the deaf and dumb, and, leaving an artistic career, he entered the Derby Institution for the Deaf, and for a time worked as a teacher under Dr. Roe. He also undertook mission work amongst the adult deaf of Derby. Leaving Derby, he went to Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and, during the illness of the Rev. W. W. Adamson, acted as missioner to the deaf of that city and district. In 1897 he was appointed missioner to the deaf of Leicester and county, and upon their behalf he laboured until his death. (Obituary)
In Gilby’s unpublished memoir, Cuttell gets two brief mentions. One might have expected more as they worked together as editors.
on July 9th, 1902, the Bishop of Barrow in Furness was with us at St. Saviour[‘]s Parsonage. “Us,” I imagine as being Rev. W.W. Adamson and the late A.M. Cuttell. We three were Editors of the Church Messenger and we being all in sympathy with the progress and proper carrying on our work on Church lines, took counsel together. The title of the “Council of Church Missioners” appears as such on that date. (Gilby, 172/15)
He married in September 1901, a hearing lady, Edith Violet Vaille, who was a Ripon born governess. She re-married in 1908, a few years after his death.
He was, his obituary says, “A man of many talents, and possessed of a bright and ready wit, he will be sorely missed by a very large circle of friends and acquaintances; especially severe is his loss to the deaf of Leicester and county, whose friend and missioner he had been for the past seven years.”
In the 1899 National association of Teachers of the Deaf Conference at Derby, Cuttell expressed his hope for future higher education for the deaf –
Mr. CUTTELL, whose remarks were read by Mr. Townsend, said that as he was not aware how far his voice would reach, he would borrow that of a friend. He appealed to the members of the Conference to do all that they could to secure the privileges of Higher Education for the Deaf. Those pupils who showed marked ability had, certainly, as much right to it as they had to their primary education. He hoped that the day would come when the Union Jack, as well as the Stars and Stripes, would fly over an open college door, where the deaf could secure higher education, which was their unquestionable right. (p.162, with adjacent photo)
1899 National Association of Teachers of the Deaf, Proceedings of the Biennial Conference
Proposed Council of Ministers, BDT 1905 p.219
1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 3004; Folio: 113; Page: 16
From Oralism to Sign Language – Missioner J.B. Foster -“deaf due to a severe shock to his nervous system”
By Hugh Dominic W Stiles, on 1 February 2019
Joseph Bradley Foster (1863-1940) was born in Edinburgh, son of Joseph Foster, a ‘commercial agent,’ and Emily Ann Foster. There were at least eight children. When he was about eighteen months old, “he became deaf due to a severe shock to his nervous system” (quoted in Our Monthly Church Messenger to the Deaf, 1894 p.109-10, which I follow closely, along with the BDT article). Note how the author says ‘became deaf,’ rather than ‘lost his hearing,’ which is a subtle but interesting difference.
When he was five, his family moved to Glasgow. We are told that from there he was sent to New Barnet and London, to be educated by Mr. Van Asch, the teacher who was the first to introduce the German or Oral system of education (ibid, & British Deaf Times 1934, p.29). He remained with Van Asch for about six years or four years, depending on the two articles and presumably his memory when interviewed, and then attended an academy for hearing pupils in Glasgow. He was considered one of Van Asch’s best pupils (British Deaf Times).
He became apprenticed aged 16 (1879/80) to a Glasgow printer or ‘Lithographic Artist,’ as it says on the 1881 census. At that time (and in 1891) the family lived in No 32 Queen Square, Kinning Park, which looks to be a pretty row of stone houses in the Govan area. Attending local Deaf social gatherings it seems that Joseph then came across sign language for the first time. He joined eagerly in with the mission as an assistant to James Muir, and learnt sign language. Gradually the mission work became more important to him, and he was appointed missioner in North and East Lancashire in 1892, before moving on to Carlisle.
The article tells us that he could
articulate very plainly, and is a skilful lipreader. Through Mr. Henderson, of Glasgow, his views on the utility of the Oral system were laid before the Royal Commission, and, from his own perspective, Mr. Foster showed very clearly that, although it was in many cases a most useful accomplishment, it was of comparatively little value to the deaf in general.
On the 6th of September, 1899, Foster married a Deaf lady, Bessie Wolfenden (1873-1904), daughter of a brewer/’hotel proprietor’ (publican), Robert Wolfenden. Bessie was being boarded out when she was seven, with her brother and two sisters. At the time of her marriage she was living in Dale Street, Lancaster, while Joseph’s address was in Carlisle. Perhaps they had met some years before, when he was the local missioner? In 1901, when they were in Rickergate, Carlisle, they had a daughter, Gertrude B. Foster, two months old at the time of the census. Joseph and Bessie are both described as ‘Deaf’ but they had servants, including one who was ‘Deaf and Dumb,’ Mary Ostell, born in Whitehaven in 1879. Mary’s mother Annie Ostell (b.ca 1854) was also ‘Deaf and Dumb’ according to the 1881 census. The 1911 census does not say Annie Ostell was Deaf, but does say her eighteen year old lodger, Thomas Cunnings, was. ‘Deaf and Dumb.’ Was the 1881 record meant to say deaf after Mary’s name? There is clearing an interesting web of connections for someone to explore.
Sadly, Bessie died only a few years later, in 1904.
Foster later worked as a missioner in Leicester (1905-12/13), Oxford (1912/13-18), where he gave Selwyn Oxley ‘some insight into mission work,’ Gloucester (1918-23) and Exeter, where his assistant Mr. Dodds was headmaster at the Deaf School. In the 1939 Register he was living in retirement in with his sister Lilian and daughter Gertrude. He died in 1940 it seems, in Honiton.*
Our Monthly Church Messenger to the Deaf, 1894 p.109-10
Retirement of Mr J.B. Foster. British Deaf Times, 1934, Mar-Apr, 29-30
Census 1881 Scotland – Parish: Glasgow Kinning Park; ED: 35; Page: 11; Line: 3; Roll: cssct1881_251
Census 1891 Scotland – Parish: Glasgow Govan; ED: 35; Page: 10; Line: 8; Roll: CSSCT1891_298
1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 4867; Folio: 165; Page: 34
1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 19314
1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 4270; Folio: 64; Page: 10; GSU roll: 1342021
1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 3466; Folio: 42A; Page: 31
Mary and Annie Ostell
1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 5160; Folio: 35; Page: 6; GSU roll: 1342245
1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 31307
By Hugh Dominic W Stiles, on 25 January 2019
Thomas Storer Adcock was born in Leicester in 1879, son of Thomas, a boot clicker, the person who cut out the leather uppers of the shoe or boot. His mother was Eliza Storer, and Thomas was their first child. Thomas was a pupil of the Midland institution, at Friar gate, Derby, under Dr. Roe. In the July 1897 edition of the Derby school magazine, Our Deaf and Dumb, A photo of Thomas appears, and Roe says,
When he he came to us he was not strong, or at any rate not robust, but like some others now here he was wiry and willing, and this makes all the difference in the world between success and failure. Moreover he was never a boy to neglect his opportunities in the past, and we believe that in the future he will seize the chances of improvement as they open out, and hold onto them with an iron grasp.
I am sure Roe meant well, but it does not seem that Thomas rose above his father’s trade, at least that was the case in 1911. In 1907 Thomas married a Deaf lady, Harriet Martha Iliffe (b.1880). Thomas was obviously involved in the Leicester Mission in some way, as his death is noted in the 56th Annual Report for the mission. He will have known Leslie Edwards, missioner at Leicester for many years.
When Thomas died in 1953, he was living at 29 Houghton Street, Leicester, and left over £1,200 in his will to his son.
As far as I can see, there is little to add to this. Thomas led a life such as most of us lead!
If you know more, please add a comment.
1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 2731; Folio: 29; Page: 12
1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 2999; Folio: 104; Page: 10
1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 19246
By Hugh Dominic W Stiles, on 18 January 2019
We have a pretty good collection of international journals, now of historical interest, from the 19th and 20th centuries. One of them is the Dutch periodical, ANDOR – Algemeen Nederlands Doofstommen ORgan. We have bound copies of the first two years, 1933-4, then copies from 1948 on into the 1970s, with some gaps.
It appears that the earliest formal education for deaf people in the Netherlands, was in 1790, when the Wallonian Calvinist preacher, Henri Daniel Guyot (1753-1828) started a school at Groeningen with Willem Hora Siccama, Gerrit van Olst and Hendrik van Calcar. Guyot had it seems met de l’Épée in Paris, and this inspired him to work with two deaf children, one Christian and one Jewish. He ran the school until his death, and after him his two sons became heads of the school, Dr. C. Guyot to 1854, and then R.T. Guyot with a Dr. Alings. they were followed by Dr. Roodha, Dr. Woltjer, and then Brunkner. Selwyn Oxley visited the school in 1923. We have a photo of an engraving of Guyot.
In January 1884 the Guyot deaf organisation was begun, founded by M.J. van Ijzer. Unfortunately we have missed the 135th year celebration!
Dovenschap (formerly Dovenraad), founded in 1955, is ‘the Dutch association for, among others, prelingual deaf people who have Dutch Sign Language as their mother tongue.’ According to their Wikipedia page, there are about 15,000 prelingually Deaf in the Netherlands.
In the first copy of ANDOR, here with an article by Jaap van Praag, we see some of the organisers of the Dutch Deaf in the 1930s. Was he related to the van Praag who introduced oralism to England? Probably not – it is not an uncommon name, usually I suppose suggesting someone of Jewish origin. Here is the ANDOR board in 1934.
Here is a cover of an early issue, followed by the Guyot founding members, from a photograph that appears in the November 1934 copy of ANDOR, when the Guyot club was celebrating its Jubilee. I have not had time to give more than a glimpse into the history of the Netherlands Deaf. Please feel free to comment below if you can add any interesting information.
By Hugh Dominic W Stiles, on 4 January 2019
In The Diary of a Country Parson, 1758-1802, that is the diary of Parson Woodforde, we find there is the following comment, illustrative of the portrayal of Deaf people in writing –
1769 Dec. 26. I was very bad in my throat all night, but towards the morning was rather better, only extremely hoarse. . . I could not go to read Prayers this morning at Cary though it was St. Stephen, which I hope will be forgiven. . . . Sister Jane visited me this morning, and she being deaf and I not able to speak, was good company. . .
It would make an interesting research project, to consider how people regardeded deafness historically, particularly as a subject for humour.