We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Forging Deaf Education in Nineteenth-Century France

Biographical Sketches of Bébian, Sicard, Massieu, and Clerc

Ferdinand Berthier Edited and Translated by Freeman G. Henry

Publication Year: 2009

In 1811, deaf student Ferdinand Berthier commenced his education at the National Institute for the Deaf in Paris under its director Abbé Sicard and his teachers Auguste Bébian, Jean Massieu, and Laurent Clerc. Their tutelage eventually led Berthier to join the faculty at the Institute and become a life-long proponent of sign language and Deaf culture. Berthier earned fame for instituting the famous silent banquets in Paris in 1834. He also learned to advance his agenda by writing biographies of important figures who advocated sign over oralism to educate deaf French students. Forging Deaf Education in Nineteenth-Century France offers the first translation of Berthier’s biographical sketches of the four men above who influenced him most. Berthier wrote first about Bébian in 1839, timed to advocate sign language for teaching deaf students after the departure of the pro-oralism Institute Director Désiré Ordinaire. Berthier extolled Bébian’s linguistic acumen and his educational philosophy. In later sketches, however, he described Sicard and Massieu in positive terms but also criticized them for supporting “methodical” signing, which conformed to spoken language conventions. In contrast, he lauded Clerc in his portrayal for using “natural” signing to teach deaf students. The incisiveness of Freeman G. Henry’s introduction and the clarity of his translations will enthrall readers now able to read Berthier’s biographies in English for the first time.

Published by: Gallaudet University Press


pdf iconDownload PDF

Title Page, Copyright Page

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. i-v


pdf iconDownload PDF

p. vii

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. ix-xi

The idea of translating the biographies contained in this volume came to me as I was researching another project, an integrated history of the French language since the Renaissance. The “integrated” aspect of that study takes into account the linguistic and cultural imperatives of the national idiom as they relate both to government and to the various other idioms...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. xiii-xiv

In a long career there are certain books that stand out above the others, not necessarily for their notoriety, but rather for the message they communicate and for the connection they make with the author’s inner being. This is such a book. I am thus especially grateful to those who have helped bring it to fruition. First and foremost I owe a very real debt to Michelle...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. xv-xxxvii

Eight-year-old Ferdinand Berthier arrived at the Paris Deaf Institute in 1811 as a nonhearing, nonspeaking student. The school had been directed since the Revolution by the hearing and speaking Abbé Sicard, who had succeeded the Abbé de l’Épée as France’s most prominent deaf educator. The staff during Berthier’s formative years included two nonhearing and...

read more

Auguste Bébian

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 1-27

Some men spend their modest, hardworking lives sequestered in their studies, their dedication and determination waiting for just the right moment when, after years of being ignored and unappreciated, they finally receive the recognition that is rightly theirs. The man whose life I am about to bring to light is such an individual; his monumental works are a testimony...

read more

Abbé Sicard

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 29-100

On November 26, 1854, a family reunion brought us together on the occasion of the 142nd anniversary of the birth of the Abbé de l’Épée.* One of the most diligent guests, Monsieur Léon Vaïsse, who has since been named director of the National Deaf Institute of Paris, where he served as a teacher for many years, expressed the heartfelt wish that I, the humble...

read more

Jean Massieu

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 101-121

Jean Massieu was born in 1772 in the village of Semens, near Cadillac, in the Department of the Gironde, of poor, ill-fated parents. They had in their care five other children afflicted with the same infirmity. Jean spent his early years tending sheep. He counted them on his fingers, and when the number exceeded ten, he made a mark on his staff and began again. Jean often...

read more

Laurent Clerc

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 121-129

At Balme, near Lyon, Laurent Clerc began his life in 1785 with a triple infirmity: he was deprived of hearing, speech, and the sense of smell. But nature compensated him generously. He had not yet reached the age of twelve when he was admitted to the Abbé Sicard’s school. His progress was so rapid in every aspect of the program...


pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 131-136

E-ISBN-13: 9781563684418
E-ISBN-10: 1563684411
Print-ISBN-13: 9781563684159
Print-ISBN-10: 1563684152

Page Count: 174
Illustrations: 10 photographs
Publication Year: 2009

OCLC Number: 794700885
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Forging Deaf Education in Nineteenth-Century France

Research Areas


Subject Headings

  • Deaf -- Education -- France -- History -- 19th century.
  • Teachers of the deaf -- France -- Biography.
  • Deaf -- France -- History -- 19th century.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access