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The Deaf History Reader

John Vickrey Van Cleve, Editor

Publication Year: 2007

The Deaf History Reader presents nine masterful chapters that bring together a remarkably vivid depiction of the varied Deaf experience in America. This collection features the finest scholarship from a noteworthy group of historians, including Reginald Boyd, Barry A. Crouch, Mary French, Brian H. Greenwald, Harlan Lane, Harry G. Lang, Kent R. Olney, Richard Pillard, Jill Hendricks Porco, Michael Reis, and volume editor John Vickrey Van Cleve. The incisive articles collected here include an exploration of the genesis of the Deaf community and early evidence of the use of sign language; a comparison of a failed, oralist school for deaf students in Virginia to the success of the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Connecticut; the development of Deaf consciousness among people who carried a dominant gene for deafness; a biographical sketch of Mary Ann Walworth Booth, an accomplished deaf woman who lived on the Western frontier; an account of Deaf agency in the Indiana Institution and the Evansville Day School; the early antecedents of mainstreaming deaf children despite the objections of their parents; a profile of Alexander Graham Bell that contrasts his support of eugenics to his defense of Deaf rights; the conflicting actions of supervisors of the Pennsylvania Society for the Advancement of the Deaf; and finally, the critical role played by deaf people in the Chicago Mission for the Deaf’s success in maintaining the Deaf community for more than five decades. The remarkably rich range of topics treated in The Deaf History Reader assure its future status as a standard resource for all Deaf scholars and students.

Published by: Gallaudet University Press


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

The essays in this volume enrich our understanding of the history of the American deaf community in a variety of ways. Some articles focus on the traditional subject of deaf education; yet each of these takes us beyond issues of pedagogy to address matters of wide social and historical importance to deaf people and to the societies of which they have been...

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1. Genesis of a Community: The American Deaf Experience in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries

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pp. 1-23

In American Colonies, Allan Taylor wrote that “the traditional story of American uplift excludes too many people.”2 He described a narrow cast that showcased male English colonists in the East and seldom satisfactorily covered the interplay of colonial and native people or the regional explorations and “human places” of other cultures, even those of other...

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2. Hearing with the Eye: The Rise of Deaf Education in the United States

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pp. 24-46

Two schools for educating deaf people emerged in the United States between 1815 and 1817. The first began in Virginia as a private endeavor in 1815, financed by a Southern slaveholder named William Bolling. The second opened its doors in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1817, under the patronage of a prominent Northern eye doctor, Mason Fitch Cogswell, and became the first permanent...

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3. Origins of the American Deaf-World: Assimilating and Differentiating Societies and Their Relation to Genetic Patterning

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pp. 47-73

The Deaf-World in the United States has major roots in a triangle of New England Deaf communities that flourished early in the nineteenth century: Henniker, New Hampshire; Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts; and Sandy River Valley, Maine. The social fabric of these communities differed, a reflection of language and marriage practices that were underpinned, we hypothesize, by...

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4. Mary Ann Walworth Booth

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pp. 74-84

Little is known about the history of American deaf women, particularly before the twentieth century. Information exists about a few famous deaf women of the nineteenth century, including Agatha Tiegel Hanson, Harriet Martineau, and Laura Redden Searing, but not about many average deaf women of that time.1 Mary Ann Walworth Booth is a partial exception to this general statement. She was an...

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5. A Tale of Two Schools: The Indiana Institution and the Evansville Day School, 1879–1912

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pp. 85-115

This paper discusses the history of a day school for deaf pupils in the Evansville, Indiana, public school system and its relationship to the state operated residential school for deaf children in Indianapolis. By the 1880s, when the Evansville day school challenged the Indiana Institution’s monopoly of deaf education, the Indianapolis school was powerful and politically...

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6. The Academic Integration of Deaf Children: A Historical Perspective

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pp. 116-135

"Theoretically considered,” Alexander Graham Bell wrote in 1905, “the best school for a deaf child, is a school with only one deaf child in it . . . one deaf child with an environment of hearing children.”1 Bell was not alone in this belief. Attempts to separate deaf children from each other and integrate them with hearing children during their school years have formed a consistent theme in the history of deaf education. Within...

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7. Taking Stock: Alexander Graham Bell and Eugenics, 1883–1922

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pp. 136-152

To Deaf people, Alexander Graham Bell is best known for his opposition to Deaf culture and American Sign Language, but Bell was also deeply involved in eugenics. His colleagues and professional collaborators included several of the most important American eugenicists, notably Charles Benedict Davenport, Henry H. Goddard, and David Starr Jordan....

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8. Deaf Autonomy and Deaf Dependence: The Early Years of the Pennsylvania Society for the Advancement of the Deaf

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pp. 153-173

Deaf college student Robert Ziegler wrote to Governor Henry Hoyt of Pennsylvania in the spring of 1881.1 Identifying himself as chairman of the state committee of the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf (PSD) alumni association, he requested permission to use the Hall of the House of Representatives in Harrisburg, the Pennsylvania capital, for a convention of deaf Pennsylvanians.2 Hoyt’s assent cleared the way for Ziegler to...

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9. The Chicago Mission for the Deaf

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pp. 174-208

President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in 1863 reminded Americans that their country had been founded with a “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” In like manner, thirty years later in Lincoln’s home state of Illinois, the Chicago Mission for the Deaf was founded as a movement of the deaf, by the deaf, and for the deaf. As early as 1892, the Chicago Mission was recognized as having the largest...


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pp. 209-210


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pp. 211-217

E-ISBN-13: 9781563684036
E-ISBN-10: 1563684039
Print-ISBN-13: 9781563683596
Print-ISBN-10: 1563683598

Page Count: 226
Illustrations: 2 tables, 3 figures
Publication Year: 2007

OCLC Number: 608510643
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Deaf History Reader

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Subject Headings

  • Deaf -- United States -- History.
  • Deaf -- Education -- United States -- History.
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