Illusions of Equality
Deaf Americans in School and Factory, 1850-1950
Publication Year: 1999
Published by: Gallaudet University Press
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This historical study considers the working lives of deaf men and women in the United States from the mid-nineteenth century to the establishment of an industrial-based working class during World War II. It examines the strategies deaf adults used to prepare for, enter, and advance...
1. ‘‘For the Deaf of the Land’’: Building Independence
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The history of most deaf Americans prior to 1800 is undocumented.1 By 1900, however, forty thousand deaf citizens had constructed a unique national community with its own visual language, schools, organizations, and businesses. ...
2. ‘‘Our Claims to Justice’’: Challenging Oralism
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In November 1883, Alexander Graham Bell appeared before the National Academy of Sciences to deliver the results of his research. Deaf graduates of residential schools, he claimed, socialized in associations, used sign language, intermarried, and had deaf children far...
3. ‘‘Shoulder to Shoulder’’: Protesting Civil Service Discrimination
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In late October 1906, U.S. Civil Service commissioners General John Black of Illinois, Henry F. Greene of Minnesota, and James McIlhenney of Louisiana revised the guidelines for applicants to the Civil Service. They added total deafness and loss of speech to a list of more than ten...
4. ‘‘For the Deaf by the Deaf ’’: Advocating Labor Bureaus
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The pivotal conflicts in education and the workplace of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were not merely contests of ideas but clashes over power and influence. In the varied struggles chronicled in chapters 1 through 3—struggles over vocational instruction, sign...
5. ‘‘For One’s Daily Bread’’: Entering Industry
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In the spring of 1918, the nation’s attention was drawn to Europe and U.S. involvement in World War I. The gaze of the country’s forty thousand deaf citizens was directed, however, not to battlefields but to the factories of Akron, Ohio. ...
6. ‘‘Conspiracy of Silence’’: Contesting Exclusion and Oral Hegemony
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The Great Depression brought widespread unemployment to forty thousand deaf adults and continued educational failure to fifteen thousand deaf students in the United States.1 Economic downturn illuminated the inadequacies of vocational programs. ...
7. ‘‘To Stand on Their Own’’: Looking to the Future
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World War II ushered in an era of unparalleled industrial opportunity for the nation’s sixty thousand deaf workers, who were suddenly in demand.1 As one acerbic deaf commentator noted, ‘‘[t]he deaf come into their rights only when the world is in a midst of a...
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The material prosperity and optimistic expectations that characterized most of the national deaf community at the close of World War II did not last. In the half-century since the end of the war, deaf workers and leaders have continued to labor against formidable systemic obstacles in the...
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Page Count: 258
Illustrations: 5 tables
Publication Year: 1999