Deaf History, CSUMB ASL 101/4, Fall 2010

List all items pertaining to oralism in red; all items pertaining to Deaf culture and Deaf people in green; all items in World Events in gold. Always include a citation to show where your information came from and sign it with "Contributed by Your Name" or you won't get any credit for it.

World Events

The American Civil War

1861 - 1865

World War I

1914 - 1918

World War II

1939 - 1945

Braidwood and the Bollings

Cobbs School

1815 - 1816

John Braidwood attempted to open an oral school for deaf children on the Bolling family's plantation in Virginia. "... the Cobbs school closed in the fall of 1816 when the pitiful Braidwood, true to his former habits, disappeared from Cobbs and thus ended the first school for deaf children in the United States." (APoTO, pp. 26-27. Contributed by Kelly Stack.)
Thomas Jefferson who said "all men are created equal" disapproved of the Cobbs school moving and joining with the University of Virgina because he said Braidwood's School is a joke compared to the University of Virgina.. Thomas Jefferson's sister, "Martha Jefferson, had married John Bolling, the uncle of the first three deaf Bollings." (pp.26-27. Contributed by Brian Bennett)

A Permanent School

Pattern of Public Support

May 1816

American School for the Deaf

April 15, 1817

"The first permanent school for deaf Americans opened its doors on April 15, 1817, in Hartford, Connecticut. ... Today it is ... correctly viewed as the predecessor of the modern state-supported residential institutions for deaf children." (APoTO, p. 29. Contributed by Kelly Stack.)
"In May of 1816 the Connecticut state legislature granted the American School charter of incorporation and followed that with a precedent-setting action-the state granted the asylum $5,000 from government funds, thus indicating a pattern of public support for education of disabled Americans." (APOTW PG 43-44 contributed by Lauren Bohannan)
"The American School established a pattern of deaf education that remained dominant in the United States until long after the Civil War" (APOTO pg. 29, contributed by Keith Nesbitt)

The Residential School Experience

The residential school experience started off in Connecticut and by 1943, "New York(1818), Pennsylvania(1820), Kentucky(1823), Ohio(1827), Virginia(1838), and Indiana(1843), started to support the education of deaf children just like Connecticut. Taxes were laid down making "parents of the deaf children assured that their offspring would receive skilled instruction. Even if there was a family out of state and they had a deaf children, they could still send their children out of state to a residential school for a reasonable price." (APoTO pp.47 Contributed by Rheanna Rinauro.)

A Deaf State

John James Flournoy

1805 - 1879

Flournoy's birthday is in dispute; it may have been as early as 1800 or as late as 1810 (Notable Deaf Persons, p. 10. Contributed by Kelly Stack).
Flournoy encouraged the establishment of the Georgia School for the Deaf and wanted more things to help out deaf people. ( A Deaf State, p.61, Contributed by Kristy King)

Upset by the "rejections and consignments to inferior places,"(A.P.O.T.O, p. 61) that deaf people were experiencing in the mid-nineteenth century, Flournoy came up with an idea to designate a state in the American West as a deaf only state where deaf people could assume all governing responsibilities. ( A Deaf State, p. 61-62. Contributed by Matt Brocker).

A College

"The Collegiate Department of the Columbia Institution for the Deaf and Dumb opened in 1864. Later renamed in honor of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, this college became-and remained for more than one hundred years-the only institution on its kind in the world."(APoTO, pg. 72: Contributed by April Avila)

Gallaudet College


Originally named The Collegiate Department of the Columbia Institution for the Deaf and Dumb but later renamed (APoTO, p. 72. Contributed by Kelly Stack).
Gallaudet College was the first college for the deaf in the world. (APoTO, p. 73. Contributed by Olivia Sims.)
Renamed after Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet in 1892.(APTO, pg. 72: Contributed by April Avila)
Before this college, students' "acedemic work was limited to the elementary "three r's"-reading, writing, and arithmatic" but after Gallaudet was built, the students attaineted the leadership skills that would allow them to dominate the "national deaf organizations". (APTO, Pg. 73: Contributed by Jarrett McAdams)
The college based all of its instruction on sign language (APoTOpg. 74) Contributed by Hannah Miller
Gallaudet College was chartered and funded by the federal government. (APoTo. pg 73) Contributed by Alijah Marquez


The New England Gallaudet Association: The NEGA was informally started in 1853. To be a member there was some requirements but most people were able to join and a fee, for men it cost one dollar a year or ten for a lifetime and women it was fifty cents a year and ten for a lifetime. What set this group apart from others of its kind was the fact that no matter how one became deaf they were able to be a part of NEGA. "Hearing people, although excluded from membership and not permitted to vote in meetings, were permitted to take part in the Gallaudet Association's activities."(A.P.O.T.O. 91) The NEGA also started the first deaf journal called Deaf-Mutes Companion, it only lasted for five years but was the first periodical published by deaf people for deaf people.
Contributed by Sarah Rangel

Empire State Associations


Empire State Association of Deaf- Mutes was one of the first statewide groups. Henry Rider severed as their president for eight years. During this time " Rider readily admitted that deaf peoples' natural inclinations toward association were encouraged by the state residential school system." ( A.P.O.T.O p 92) in the late nineteenth century, hearing people who believed that deaf persons were becoming to clannish, and were intermarrying too frequently. Contributed by: Heather Craft

National Association of the Deaf (NAD)


(APoTO, p. 93. Contributed by Kelly Stack.)

Cultural Connections

The Silent Worker

1892 - 1929

(Deaf Heritage, p. 230. Contributed by Kelly Stack.)
The Silent Worker ran a series of aticles on the attacks on sign language and use and deaf intermarriage, which were major issues during 1890. (APTO, p.104. Contributed by Shonetta Crain.)
The Silent Worker "kept deaf individuals aware of the existence and activities of others who shared their cultural characteristics. They quietly indicated that deaf people had many career options, that they could become barbers or grocers or ministers or competent newpaper editors".(APTO, p.102-103. Contributed by Elizabeth Demko.)

The Assault on Sign Language

Signed language was suppressed because society believed "its use prevented their children from practicing speech and thus being "normal"" (page 107). The first American school toadopt the oralist patterns of teaching opened in New York City in 1867 . It was called The New York Institution for the improved Instruction of Deaf Mutes by a German-speaking Austrian (page 107: Contributed by Sara Simmons)

Oralism before the Civil War

1840 - 1867

Lauren Bohannan: Name some factors that seemed to keep oralism from spreading prior to the Civil War. Why was signing considered to be superior? What was the opinion of the effectiveness of oral methods? How did the establishment of private schools change things? (DUE Nov 11)
Sign Language not only differs from English in its syntax and vocabulary, its visual form is so strange to hearing people that for decades, it was not recognized as a language(106). In the 1840's, and educational reformer, Horace Mann challenged sign language and called for the use of oral methods in American schools for deaf students(112). But shortly after the civil war, Mann's arguments were reviewed, this worked with private schools because the parents had more influence than they did in the state residential institutions. Therefore, the first oral school opened in New York City in 1867. Signing was superior because "The language was quick, sure, and readily mastered by persons unfamiliar with any written or spoken language."(111). Thomas Hopkins Galaudet and Laurent Clerc established a firm tradition in the United States of sign language in schools for deaf children. So it was apparent that they ignored Mann's argument for oral schools. But after receiving attention by parents an oral school was opened. as mentioned before, more private schools became oral because the parents had more control and opinion than that of state schools. Some even prohibited the use of signs and fingerspelling in all aspects of the students lives (113). Contributed by Lauren Bohannan (APOTO).

A warning from E.M. Gallaudet


Matt Brocker: What did Edward Miner Gallaudet warn about with regard to oralism? Was he right to do so? (DUE Nov 11)
In 1868 Edward Miner Gallaudet had just returned home after visiting deaf schools in Europe. After seeing the use of strictly oralism in their schools combined with the fact that many schools in the United States were beginning to do the same, Gallaudet "warned the heads of American schools for deaf children that they would have to begin teaching speech in their schools."(APOTO, p. 113). He believed that American schools had gone too long in their sole use of manual methods and the time had come for them to combine the use of oralism and sign language to teach their deaf children. I believe Gallaudet was right to do so because he noticed the need to teach the American children some oralism so that they wouldn't be separate from their peers at European and other American schools when it came to communicating using oral methods rather than just sign language.(APOTO, p. 112-113, Contributed by Matt Brocker)

European Oralists


Josh Barber: What did oralists in Germany, France, and Italy do in the years before the Milan Congress? How did European and American educational philosophies differ during this time? (DUE Nov 11)

Before the Milan Congress, some schools in Germany never used sign language and were predominantly oral schools where the students had to speech-read. They followed the oralist pattern of Samuel Heinicke. Also in france they relied heavily on speech and fingerspelling to teach. Abbe Charles Michel de l'Eppe was the founder of the Paris Institution for the deaf. There, he was against the oral method and taught signs instead to his students and followers. One of whom started the first deaf school in Italy. This carried into the 19th century and became known as the 'French Method'.
European and American educational philosophies "did not uniformly embrace either the french or German methods... In the late 1870s, this began to change."
(APoTO pg. 107-108 Contributed by Joshua A Barber)

The Pennsylvania School switches to oralism


Alijah Marquez: Describe the slow conversion of the Pennsylvania Institution to pure oralism, and the stages it went through before finally deciding that oralism and manualism could not co-exist. (DUE Nov 11)

After a rocky start due to the lost of their first principle on account of accusations of molest, Clerc took over and brought the school back to its feet by establishing sign language as the main means of communication for its deaf students. The Pennsylvania Institution soon developed a reputation as one of the best and fastest growing schools in the country for deaf students.
In 1870 the school decided to experiment with different styles of teaching and dedicated one class to oralism. This class eventually evolved into an “articulation department”. Shortly after, the two departments were separated in order to keep signing students and oral students in separate environments. Although at the time oral and manual students remained in some classes together and mingled outside of class. That is until the school moved to it’s new location in the Philadelphia suburb of Mt. Airy and built two completely separate sets of facilities for its two departments.
The Institution converted to pure oralism when it was determined that “speech methods and sign or manual methods do not and cannot combine to the advantage of pupils” because the instructors noticed that oral students who were exposed to manual students were inferior in skill compared to oral students who had not been exposed to manual students (pg 125).
(APOTO, p. 123-126, Contributed by Alijah Jade Marquez)

The "Visible Speech" Method


Heather Craft: How did the educational goal of Visible Speech differ from manual methods that had been used in this country? How did it differ from later oralist approaches to education? How might this approach find resonance in a country recovering from a civil war and wanting to promote similarities between people rather than differences (you may speculate on this based on your own knowledge)? (DUE Nov 11)

ANSWER “ “Visible Speech” is a method that was supposed to enable deaf or hearing people to understand and produce the precise mouth shapes and movements necessary to create perfectly all the sands of all languages.”(APOTO p114) Visual Speech differs from manual methods in a way that it is easier for the hearing and deaf to understand.
This method differs from later approaches because Visual Speech included signs and figure spelling where as other approaches were strictly oral.
This new approach may have cause a lot of retaliation in the country, trying to blend the deaf community into the hearing. Yet it’s challenging to teach individuals who cannot hear to communicate with hearing individuals on a mutual ground.
Contributed by: Heather Craft
Shonetta Crain: Describe Bell's showmanship in presenting Visible Speech to audiences. What tactics did he use to raise audiences' expectations of success for this method? (DUE Nov 11)

Bell "exploited his audience's interest in the exotic and their appreciation of the familiar" to get their attention and interest. He demonstrated that Visible speech could be used to represent the sound of any language. then he got the audiences "sympathy and admiration" by having Dudley, Bell's student of Visible Speech, recite sentences from Visible Speech symbols, one of th things she would recite is THe Lords Prayer because it was known to the audience and would appeal to their sympathies.(Contributed by Shonetta Crain. pg 106 in APOTO)

Bell's conversion to speechreading


Liz Demko: Originally Bell did not believe in teaching speechreading to deaf people. What changed his mind? (DUE Nov 11)
Bell met Mabel Gardiner Hubbard, Jeannie Lippit and Josey Annon who could speachread much better than anyone Bell had known before and they all spoke well enough to be understood by most hearing people. Bell married Mabel Hubbard but more importantly his experience with her convinced him that speachreading was pratical for deaf people and spent the remainder of his life advocating the position with the money he earned from inventing the telephone (pg 117).

International Congress for the Improvement of the Condition of Deaf-Mutes


April Avila: Why was this meeting important? What earlier or later event did it influence and how? (DUE Nov 11)
"It declared that ""preference should be given to the method of articulation and lip-reading,"" rather than to sign language and fingerspelling, in the education of deaf children." pg. 108
"To resolve the debate between educators who favored sign language and those who believed in speech alone, the Paris congress called for a larger meeting two years later . Joseph Marius Magnat, a former oral teacher from Switzerland, received support from wealthy descendants of Pereire to organize the larger meeting--which would be called the Milan Congress." pg.108
"The Convention, considering the incontestable superiority of speech over signs, for restoring deaf-mutes to social life, and for giving them greater facility of language, declares that the method of articulation should have the preference over that of signs in the instruction and education of the deaf and dumb." pg. 110
"It passes nearly unanimously. Only six people voted against it--the five Americans and Richard Elliot." pg. 110
(Contributed by April Avila)

Day Schools


Julie Felios: How did Day Schools differ from existing schools for the deaf? What changed about this country to create the environment that would make it possible to create Day Schools? What were the perceived advantages of Day Schools? (DUE Nov 11)

The Milan Congress


(APoTO, p. 108. Contributed by Kelly Stack.)
In 1880, a meeting (the Milan Congress) was set up by the Paris congress in hopes of resolving "the debate between educators who favored sign language and those who believed in speech alone" (AToTO p. 108: Contributed by Sara Simmons).

The assault on sign language can be linked to Alexander Graham Bell who came to the United States in 1871 and began teaching deaf by the "Visible Speech" method his father invented. This method "was supposed to enable deaf or hearing people to understand and produce mouth shapes and movements necessary to create...sounds" (AToTO p. 114, contributed by Sara Simmons).
Brian Bennett: Deaf people of the time and historians have claimed that the Milan Congress was not a fair and impartial referendum on deaf education methods. List some facts about the congress and the press coverage of it that support this view. (DUE Nov 11)
143 out of 164 representatives in the Milan Congress were from Italy and France and out of the 164, 163 were hearing. only one representative was deaf. So because none of the representatives were deaf or knew about what it was like to be deaf they made unfair/unjust rules that forced deaf children to learn the way that the representatives wanted them to, instead of what was easier and best for the deaf community. Now the press was only concerned about how non deaf people would react to the congresses decisions. "Reporters and there gullible readers, seldom knew deaf people or knew enough about deafness to evaluate what really was happening when a deaf person spoke clearly or seemed able to read lips without hesitation." (Brian Bennett)

pg. 110
Nearly everyone at the congress voted for deaf children to be forced to communicate without sign language. Only six people voted against this. There were 12 speakers, and 9 of them spoke out against while three argued for them. (Julie Felios)

Oralism after the Civil War

1880 - 1960

Jessica George: What did oralists see as their primary goal in teaching deaf children? How did this contrast with the goals of the manualists? (DUE Nov 11)

“Oralists sought to develop the social skills of deaf students. Their primary goal was not education in the traditional sense of imparting facts and analytical skills to their pupils, but to make deaf children as similar to hearing children as possible, to fit them into American society.” (pg.121) Oralist schools attempted to prohibit the use of signs or fingerspelling in all aspects of its students’ lives. Manualists believe in signing and fingerspelling unlike the oralists. They also believed it was wrong to try and make deaf students try to speak. Oralists and manualists views differed greatly. Manualists belived in signing unlike oralists. (Jessica George)

Alisha Hopkins: Describe the differences in the way manualists and oralists "marketed" their methods to the public. (DUE Nov 11)

Manualists and oralists, although working towards the same objective, are on opposite sides of the spectrum when it comes to the methods of how to attain this goal. On one hand, manualists believe that their methods give the Deaf a sense of pride, and culture. It gives them a language in order to communicate with one another, and with the world. “They found it rapid, facile, and precise, unlike speech or speech reading” (page 106). Oralists, on the other hand, ban any trace of signing, believing it to prohibit assimilation into mainstream culture. They see it as a divide, a mark, which sets them apart from the rest of the world in a derogatory way. Many influential politicians, school boards and teachers endorsed oralist methods, while openly slamming the beliefs of manualists. Throughout all of this negativity however, manualism lived on. (Alisha Hopkins, page 106-107)

Jarrett McAdams: What role did hearing parents of deaf children play in the move to oralism in the late 19th and early 20th century? How did Bell's organization (the AAPTSD) interact with parents' groups? (DUE Nov 11)
Jarrett McAdams: Hearing parents strongly promoted oralism because they wanted their deaf children to be as normal as possible. The AAPTSD pushed oralism to parents with the support of Alexander Graham Bell.

Oralists find allies


Erandy Frias: What was Department 16 of the NEA? Why was it important to Alexander G. Bell to become involved with the NEA instead of working with other teachers of the deaf in the CAID? (DUE Nov 11)

Department 16 of the NEA is an organization for deaf education to public schools on how to teach the deaf how to speak and lip read. Alexander G. Bell wanted to be apart of this organization because he felt as if signing and finger spelling was not helping out the deaf community, he believed that if the deaf people could learn how to speak and lip read it would be more successful for the deaf community and those around them. "A Place of Their Own" Pg.120-121 (Contributed By Erandy Frias)

Oralism takes over American deaf education


Kristy King: Describe this "watershed" in deaf education. (DUE Nov 11)

The Struggle to Save Signs

Scott Mersino: What were some factors that happened to help Deaf Americans combat oralism? Why was the structure of the school system helpful? Why was the timing of the "oralist onslaught" important? (DUE Nov 11)Hannah Miller:1.Pettengril said that smaller school had more success than larger schools because the students got more individual attention. "It is to be observed that all the classes are small, and much of the instruction personal and individual.'" (pg 130) Contributed by Hannah Miller
2. Pettengrill thought that the use sign language by student was interfering with learning proper English. He'd rather have the students read, write and use finger spelling. But deaf people themselves said that using sign language is the most effective and easiest way of communicating. They used their own experience to argue that sign language should be taught in schools. (pg 131) Contributed by Hannah Miller

George Veditz

1861 - 1937

(Dates from Wikipedia. Contributed by Kelly Stack.)

Pettingill's Observations


Keith Nesbitt: What did Benjamin D. Pettengill have to say about the oralists' claim that sign language interfered with learning English? (DUE Nov 11)
Pettengill wrote that pupils should "write more, and read more, and [finger]spell more; but it does not necessarily follow that they should use signs less than at present" APOTO pg. 130 contributed by Keith Nesbitt

Deaf People's Experiences


Megan Parker: What did George Wing have to say about mixing hearing and deaf children in the same school? What important question did Robert P. McGregor ask about oralism? (DUE Nov 11)

George Wing, who was hard of hearing, "warned against mixing hearing and deaf children in the same school." He believed that placing a deaf child amongst hearing was a "cruel experiment." (APOTO Pg. 131 Contributed by Megan Parker)

Hanson's Suggestion to Bell


Sarah Rangel: What did Olaf Hanson write about in his letter to A.G. Bell in 1889? (DUE Nov 11)

ANSWER:Olaf Hanson discussed in his letter to Bell that merging the deaf and hearing worlds is a difficult task. Hanson doesn’t fully agree with Bell, he believes that speech reading involved merely substituting one form of visual communication. Hanson also believed that the way to encourage deaf-hearing associations was to make the knowledge of manual alphabet as widely spread as possible. Hanson had the superintendent of Illinois Schools on his side, the superintendent that the training of the manual alphabet be added to the curriculum, which first had to be passed by state legislation . Contributed by: Sarah Rangel

Tillinghast's Dilemma


Mariah Pritchett: What question did E.S. Tillinghast ask at a meeting of the AAPTSD? What was significant about his question? (DUE Nov 11)

  • Tillinghast did not ask a specific question but he did an overview question with oralism. He thought about how people who are deaf and use the oral method, they take advantage that they have an opportunity to sign. He wanted to know if that should be allowed with being deaf. The significance about the facts Tillinghast layed out was that he presented a knowledgable thought. He presented ideas that deaf people have never really thought about.

~Mariah E. Pritchett

The Nebraska Contest

1911 - 1915

Rheanna Rinauro: What was the law in Nebraska that rallied the Deaf community to oppose it? What were Olaf Hanson's arguments against the law? (DUE Nov 11)
The law that rallied the Deaf community from 1911 to 1915 stated; all children from now on in school would only be taught the oral method and signing (sign language) was no longer allowed to be taught. The children were only allowed to be taught aural(hearing only) and lipreading methods. The sign language alphabet was no longer allowed. Hanson being president of the NAD wrote to the governor of Nebraska arguing that deaf education should not be left to be arranged by the state legislature, instead should be arranged by deaf experts. Also he argued that deaf people accept the "Combined system," of both oral and manual but they do not accept just learning oral. The Deaf community disapproves of those who exclude sign language and therefor children learning just the oral method would suffer to understand the religious background of sign language, enjoy lectures, and take part in debates. Hanson believes the whole law is unfair. (Contributed by Rheanna Rinauro, APoTO, p135-136).

Sara Simmons: How did Deaf people change tactics after the law passed, and how successful were these tactics? What did Frank Booth do to resist them? (DUE Nov 11)
After the Nebraska law that passed stating only oral methods would be taught and sign language be excluded, Deaf people changed their tactics by using resources such as their NAD president, Olaf Hanson, who lobbied against the bill by producing an official statement arguing against oralism (p. 136). The community game together to pass resolutions condemning oralism as well as hired lobbyists to fight the law. Deaf people also "sought to change it's (the oral bill's) interpretation" by appealing the law to the new superintendant, Mr. Frank Booth (p.136). Booth was not interested in the attempts to change the law to "the Combined System" and threw a sucker-punch by allowing Carroll Pearse, head of the NEA, to speak out against sign-language in a means to misrepresent the use of signs in a horrible fashion. Pearse neglected the honest relationship that signs hold to the deaf community as their primary way to communicate (contributed by Sara Simmons, APoTO, p. 137).

Olivia Sims: What did Deaf people do to attempt to overturn the law? What did Olaf Hanson in particular do? Why do Van Cleve and Crouch claim that the American deaf community benefitted from this struggle even though they were unsuccessful in overturning the law? (DUE Nov 11)

State law was that students would "be taught and trained in... school by the oral, aural [hearing only] and lipreading method to the exclusion of the deaf alphabet and sign language, unless incapacitated by mental defects or malformation of the vocal cords." (APOTO p. 135) Contributed by Megan Parker. This is linked to oralism.


Alexander Graham Bell

1847 - 1922

(Dates from Wikipedia. Contributed by Kelly Stack.)

Employing the Deaf Community

Warren Robinson

1859 - 1921

( Contributed by Kelly Stack.)


Deaf President Now

March 7, 1988

(APoTO pp. 171-172. Contributed by Kelly Stack.)