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Deaf American Prose 1830-1930

Jennifer L. Nelson is Professor of English at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. Kristen Harmon is Professor of English at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC.

Publication Year: 2013

This new anthology showcases the works of Deaf writers during a critical formative period in their history. From 1830 to 1930, these writers conveyed their impressions in autobiographies, travel narratives, romances, nonfiction short stories, editorials, descriptive pieces, and other forms of prose. The quick, often evocative snapshots and observations featured here, many explicitly addressing deafness and sign language, reflect their urgency to record Deaf American life at this pivotal time. Using sensory details, dialogue, characterization, narrative movement, and creative prose, these writers emphasized the capabilities of Deaf people to counter events that threatened their way of life. The volume opens with “The Orphan Mute,” a sentimental description of the misfortune of deaf people written by John Robertson Burnet in 1835. Less than 50 years later, James Denison, the only Deaf delegate at the 1880 Convention of Instructors of the Deaf in Milan, published his “impressions” that questioned the majority’s passage of a strict oralism agenda. In 1908, Thomas Flowers wrote “I was a little human plant,” a paean to education without irony despite the concurrent policy banning African Americans from attending Gallaudet College. These and a host of other Deaf writers—Laurent Clerc, Kate Farlow, Edmund Booth, Laura Redden Searing, Freda W. Bauman, Vera Gammon, Isaac H. Benedict, James Nack, John Carlin, Joseph Mount and many more—reveal the vitality and resilience of Deaf writers in an era of wrenching change.

Published by: Gallaudet University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. iii-iv


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pp. v-viii

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pp. ix-xii

This volume offers us vivid glimpses of deaf Americans’ experiences between 1830 and 1930. By bringing more writing by deaf authors from this period to light, editors Jennifer Nelson and Kristen Harmon enable them to communicate with us directly, to offer intriguing views into their lives, opinions, and imaginations. Collected here is prose by such eminent figures as Laurent Clerc, who cofounded the ...

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p. xiii-xiii

We thank our colleagues in the English Department for their support, particularly Paige Franklin, who generously provided fellowship funds and support in the form of manuscript preparation help from former English Department research assistants Ryan Barrett and Erica Wilkins. We also thank our Gallaudet University interns during the academic year 2012, who were: Steven Jeczala, Christopher Thomas, Betty Joan ...

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Introduction: Literary Impressions of Deaf Lives

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pp. 1-9

The concept of “impressions” ties together all of the pieces here in this second volume of the Gallaudet Deaf Literature Series (1830–1930). James Denison, the only signing deaf delegate at the infamous Milan Convention of 1880, recorded his “Impressions of the Milan Convention” (italics ours and included in this volume), and we have borrowed his sense of “impressions” to convey this anthology’s focus upon ...

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John Robertson Burnet

Described in the American Annals of the Deaf and Dumb as a “[j]ust, honest, and honorable” man, John Robertson Burnet was born on December 26, 1808, to Samuel and Betsey Burnet. He was deafened at the age of eight by a cold that progressed into “brain fever.” As a child, Burnet learned quickly, and he developed a strong interest in books and began writing poems. He learned sign language when ...

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The Orphan Mute

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pp. 11-17

On a beautiful sunny afternoon in June, a group of happy children set out, with light hearts and smiling faces, on a strawberry excursion. At some distance from their little village, there was a deserted and ruinous house, around which were a few fields abounding in strawberries, the whole embosomed in woods, but near a public road. Thither the children proceeded, but had hardly entered the fields when they were ...

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My Sister’s Funeral

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pp. 18-21

The scenes which I am about to describe are not imaginary scenes, neither are they colored in the hues of fancy to awaken interest or excite sympathy. They are pictures of reality, as many hearts can feelingly testify, and drawn in the unadulterated colors of the truth. It was my lot to be bereft of my hearing at an early age. For years I have found myself cut off from nearly all communication with the busy world around me, left ...

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James Nack

The son of a New York City merchant, James Nack was born in 1809. Taught at home, he was able to read by four years old and was composing verse in early childhood. However, a fall on a stairway caused Nack to lose his hearing at the age of eight or nine. After entering the just-opened New York Institution for the Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb, he became increasingly interested in writing and ...

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Law Proceedings

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pp. 22-24

“What are you doing, John?” inquired my cousin, looking over my shoulder one rainy morning, while my pen was racing at the rate of fifty miles an hour, and my desk was creaking beneath the load of papers. “I am copying the pleadings in an action for assault and battery; for that whereas the said defendant with force and arms, to wit, with swords, staves, ropes, hands, and ...

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The Last Words of a Bachelor

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pp. 24-29

“DON’T YOU THINK it will hold up?” “Can’t say. There is a great holding up of umbrellas.” “O dear!” And I sauntered mournfully to the window for the fiftieth time within the last five minutes, and looked wistfully through the streaked panes as if to stare the rain out of countenance. “Stare away!” said the rain, as plain as it could speak. “There—look there—good news—don’t you see that man is carrying his umbrella ...

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Laurent Clerc

Laurent Clerc is arguably one of the most prominent figures in Deaf American history. He, with Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, cofounded the first school for the deaf in America and thus helped along the development of American Sign Language in the American Deaf community. Born on December 26, 1785, near Lyons, France, Clerc was possibly deaf from birth, though his parents believed the cause was when he fell, hitting his head ...

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Visits to Some of the Schools for the Deaf and Dumb in France and England

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pp. 31-32

Another day, being at the country-seat of a friend of mine, at the foot of the mountains which separate France from Switzerland, I was told by the landlord that there was in the village a poor woman about thirty years old, deaf and dumb from birth, who had never seen any deaf and dumb person, and that she could hardly make herself understood by others, except by her aged mother with whom she lived. I expressed the desire to ...


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The Wonderful Coffee-Mill

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pp. 33-35

The following extravaganza was written out, precisely as we print here, by one of the present pupils of the Asylum, from the natural signs of one of the teachers. Some of our readers may need an explanation of what we mean by natural signs. Signs which are employed to convey ideas, not words,—signs which follow the natural order of thought, not the artificial order of written or spoken language,—are called natural, in the distinction

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Isaac H. Benedict

Born in New York City in 1825, Benedict was educated at the New York Institution for the Deaf at Fanwood. He later became an educator for nineteen years at Fanwood and while there, married Sarah D. Stelle, a former classmate. Entering government service in Washington, DC, Benedict worked with the auditor’s office in the Treasury Department for thirty-six years. He resigned so that he could ...

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Aerial Navigation by a Deaf-Mute

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pp. 36-42

Notwithstanding the deprivation of the faculty of hearing in consequence of which we are incapable of the perception of harmony and the charms of music, the Supreme Being has bestowed on us a sense of sight, through the medium of which we can perceive the dangers encompassing us, or form a just idea of the magnificence of the celestial bodies in the vast boundless blue expanse, the charming beauties of ...

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Mary St. Cloud Belches

Little is known about Mary St. Cloud Belches other than what she reports in “A Family History,” published in the American Annals of the Deaf and Dumb in 1856. Originally from Scotland, she immigrated to the United States at the age of eleven and lost her hearing a year later, a story which she recounted in “A Family History.” “Miss B.,” as she was called in the prefatory remarks to this piece, seems to have graduated ...

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A Family History

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pp. 44-47

[THE FOLLOWING “ower true tale” was forwarded to us by Mr. MacIntire, Principal of the Indiana Institution for the Deaf and Dumb; and may best be introduced to our readers by quoting a portion of his letter. “Dear Sir:—Enclosed please find a brief narrative of the early life of Miss Mary StC. Belches, a recent graduate of this Institution, which I send you for publication in the “Annals,” if you think it worthy. In justice to Miss B., I must say that the sketch ...

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Joseph Mount, “Joe the Jersey Mute”

Born in New Jersey in 1927, Mount attended the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf between 1837 and 1842. After leaving school, Mount published numerous expository and humorous pieces in area and regional newspapers and magazines, many of them published under the pseudonym, “Joe the Jersey Mute.” He was an educator at the Kansas School for the Deaf in Baldwin, Kansas, from 1865 to 1867, and in 1867, ...

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Recollections of a Deaf and Dumb Teacher

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pp. 48-51

It is now close to seven years ago that I sat down in my easy chair and corrected the compositions of my class. While I was thus engaged, one of my girls, who was remarkable only for the snowy whiteness of her skin, came to me and said: “Master, if I neglect to wash my neck and it becomes dirty, will my heart also become dirty?” I could not help laughing at her strange question. Next came a pale-looking boy, who asked me if ...

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A Leaf from a Teacher’s Diary

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pp. 51-54

I once had a young girl in my class, who seemed to be in the neighborhood of seventeen years of age. Her head, phrenologically speaking, was fully developed in the lower part of the forehead, indicating quick perceptions and a good degree of mental activity. In the region of firmness her head towered high, giving obstinacy of opinion and an unwavering nerve. Her features, in particular, were angled and ridged; they ...

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John Carlin

Born in 1813 in Philadelphia, Carlin was apparently deafened in infancy, as was his brother. Little is known about his family of origin, but as a young child, Carlin was abandoned and was later fostered by David Seixas, a Philadelphia businessman, who also fed and clothed fourteen other deaf children found living on the street. The school that Seixas organized for the fifteen deaf street children eventually became the ...

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Excerpt from The Scratchsides Family

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pp. 55-58

There once lived a family near Pungetown, a charming village on the southern slope of the mountain, where, among the wild and secluded ravines, a remarkable man of the name of Rip Van Winkle saw a dozen or more Dutch ghosts playing at ninepins, and was made by their liquor to sleep for twenty years. The family consisted of ...

Howard Glyndon (Laura Redden Searing)

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The Realm of Singing

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pp. 60-65

A queer little forlorn bird once found herself upon the edge of the Realm of Singing. Now, she was a stranger in that glorious country, in which she had no kith nor kin, and not even an acquaintance to twitter to her, and she had never been there before. But grand as this country was, it looked so familiar to her that she could scarcely keep from making herself at home in it all at once. Her courage, however, was ...

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The Widow Waring’s Christmas Surprise

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pp. 66-73

If I only just did know what to do about him!” Following this remark came a deep, long-drawn sigh. It was a leisurely sigh, too; yet the woman who gave it was so used to sighing that she was hardly conscious of having drawn her breath more heavily than usual. Beside her, crouched upon a bit of old rag carpet spread upon the hearth, with his head bent so near to the blaze of the scanty fire of pine-knots that you would have thought his flushed ...

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William B. Swett

Educated at the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Swett was president of the New England Gallaudet Association of Deaf-Mutes and was the author of Adventures of a Deaf-Mute in the White Mountains (1874), a recounting of his experiences as a guide in that area. Selections from this account are included here. Swett had a colorful career as an explorer, showman, mechanic, writer, and artist before settling ...

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Selections from Adventures of a Deaf-Mute in the White Mountains

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pp. 74-80

I had heard much of this great natural curiosity, and had thought that there must be some resemblance to a human profile, but I was not prepared for the “accurate chiselling and astonishing sculpture” which now met my eyes. The “Profile” has “a stern, projecting, massive brow, which looks as if it contained the thought and wisdom of centuries.” The nose is “straight, and finely cut.” The lips ...

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James Denison

James Denison was born in Vermont in 1837 and was educated at the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Connecticut. Denison taught at the Michigan School for the Deaf from 1856 to 1857 and then taught at the Kendall School in Washington, DC, from 1857 to 1910. He was also the first deaf principal of Kendall School, from 1870 to 1909. Edward M. Gallaudet said his friend and colleague James ...

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Impressions of the Milan Convention

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pp. 81-88

On entering for the first time the hall where the International Convention of Instructors of Deaf-Mutes was holding its sessions, I found it difficult to overcome the impression that I had stumbled into the wrong place. Might I not be intruding—such was my thought for a moment—upon a solemn ecclesiastical convocation, discussing points of doctrine or church polity, concerning which laymen have neither voice nor ...

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Edwin (Edmund) Booth

The Edwin Booth of “Booth’s Reminiscences of Gallaudet,” published in this collection, was probably Edmund Booth. According to the Gallaudet University Archives, Booth published his “Reminiscences” under the name Edwin, which could have been a mistake. It is possible that he was confused with an Edwin Booth (famous actor and brother of the infamous John Wilkes Booth who assassinated President ...

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Booth’s Reminiscences of Gallaudet

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pp. 90-91

OUR VENERABLE contributor, Mr. Edwin Booth, one of the earliest pupils of the American Asylum, which he entered in 1828, is publishing in the Deaf-Mute Hawk-Eye a series of interesting “Reminiscences of Half a Century.” The first paper is appropriately devoted to Dr. T. H. Gallaudet, the Founder of Deaf-Mute Instruction in America. We make a few extracts showing how Dr. Gallaudet impressed an intelligent pupil: ...

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Kate M. Farlow

In Silent Life and Silent Language, or, the Inner Life of a Mute in an Institution for the Deaf and Dumb (1883), Farlow wrote a fictional account of her own experiences as a student at the Indiana School for the Deaf. After her studies, she went on to teach at the Iowa School for the Deaf. In the preface for Silent Life, Farlow noted that her “design in writing this book was to give the public a fair idea ...

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Selections from Silent Life and Silent Language, or, the Inner Life of a Mute

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pp. 92-104

My design in writing this book was to give the public a fair idea of life in an institution for the deaf and dumb; and to show what has been done, and can still be done, for those deprived of the senses of hearing and speech. I also wish to disabuse the minds of parents who think their deaf-mute children will not be well cared for and receive benefit in these institutions. I can say from my own experience they certainly ...


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Scene in a Railroad Station

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pp. 105-106

Here I am! I just got left. I was sitting down waiting for my train to come along and I fell asleep and now I have to wait two hours for another train. As I have a little note book and pencil, which I am seldom without, so if anybody says anything to me and I don’t understand, they can write it down (if they know how), I will beguile my time by making notes about what I see. I have been waiting several minutes for something to turn up and something has, ...

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Frieda W. Bauman

A graduate of the Illinois School for the Deaf, Bauman attended Gallaudet College (BA 1902), where she wrote “A Romance of Far Away Cuba” for the campus newspaper, The Buff and Blue; which then was later reprinted in The Silent Worker (1900). Married the day after her graduation to Roy Carpenter, Bauman later divorced and married James Meagher of Chicago, a former worker for Goodyear, and they ...

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A Romance of Far Away Cuba

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pp. 107-111

“No, I have not the heart to leave you behind, dear; for who can say what may happen to you during my long and uncertain absence?” a deep toned, manly voice was heard to plead. “Ask of me anything save this.” “Do you take me for a coward?” put in a sweet, musical voice. “For myself, I can never feel any regard for my mother-country, since she has been so needlessly cruel ...

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Hypatia Boyd

Born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Boyd lost her hearing from scarlet fever at the age of six and a half, after she had already learned to speak. She then attended the Milwaukee Day School for the Deaf, an oral school that forbade both signing and fingerspelling. After graduating from the Milwaukee Day School, Boyd attended a local hearing high school, relying solely on lipreading. Alexander Graham Bell ...

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What One Girl Hears and Sees

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pp. 112-116

THE SUBJECT OF Deaf Women and their Work, has not been exhausted as yet, —there are a few more professions to discuss—but just now one feels the need of what David Hartman termed, “a change o’ feed once in a while,” in other words, it is believed that an indulgence in a variety of random literary subjects, differing from the usual course hitherto pursued in this department, would not be out of place for a time. The writer has ...

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What One Girl Hears and Sees (Continued from the February number)

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pp. 116-120

Martha, comfortably settled in a big chair, was absorbedly reading the pages of a book, when the door of her study opened, and Dora came in. “I am glad to see you,” said Martha. “Now don’t make me a brief call, as you business women are so apt to do, but take off your hat and coat, and have that chair near the grate, please. ...

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Douglas Tilden

A prominent sculptor and artist, Douglas Tilden was born in California in 1860. Deafened by a bout of scarlet fever at the age of four, Tilden entered and graduated from the California School for the Deaf in Berkeley. He enrolled at the University of California, briefly teaching there, before going on to study at the New York Academy of Design and, later, in Paris. “[C]onsidered a genius in sculpture,” ...

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Reflections of a Deaf-Mute Philosopher

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pp. 122-125

A deaf-mute’s best friend are his ten fingers. We are a class of people without a precedent. Speak so that I may know what institution you are from. I have never met a deaf-mute who does not know something more than I do. I love flowers, not botany; speech, not vocal gymnastics. It is better to be a wise man once a month than to be a fool every day of one’s life. There is no Institution famous or successful, but because ...

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Helen Keller

Helen Keller was born June 27, 1880, in Tuscumbia, Alabama, and became deaf and blind after an illness at nineteen months of age. She was perhaps the most famous deaf and blind person in American history, having learned through her teacher Annie Sullivan; she later went to the Perkins Institute for the Blind and then to Radcliffe. Editors and publishers have historically wanted her to write about ...

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What I Am Doing

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pp. 127-132

On the day of our graduation from college the royal road of life stretches before us invitingly and we are eager to begin the journey. We fancy that no obstacle can stand before us, for youth is invincible. We rush out of the gates with fiery zeal to do something, we charge upon life like an invading army confident of victory. The beginnings of the march—how certain, glad and free they are! The world is a good deal ...

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Alice C. Jennings

The daughter of a clergyman, Jennings was born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1851, and at eight years of age, lost her hearing due to scarlet fever. An “omnivorous reader,” her general education was conducted by her father and sister. At nineteen, Jennings entered the Horace Mann School for the Deaf in Massachusetts and stayed there for four years. After graduating, she was denied entrance to Gallaudet ...

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Is It Beneficial to a Deaf Oralist to Learn the Sign Language

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pp. 133-136

Five or even two, years ago I could not have answered this question in the affirmative. That I can now do so, is the result of personal experience, close observation, and strong conviction. I do not now speak of signs as a method of education, but of their value in the more mature life of deaf people. Given an oral graduate of normal intelligence, is it a ...

Douglas Tilden

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More Extracts from the “Zeno” Mss: The So-called “Tribe of Fools”

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pp. 137-148

I placed myself in the chair, and pulling out a slate (I carried the piece of rock, about the size of your hand, in the hip pocket for writing purposes) I wrote grandiloquently: “I want your tonsoric skill to be applied to my hair and also the lower hirsutic appendage done away after the most approved fashion, the mustachio to be left status quo.” The oiled villain looked at the slate and showed it to a fellow barber. The latter ...

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Alice Taylor Terry

Born on a Missouri farm in 1878, Taylor lost her hearing when she was nine years old. However, her mother did not want to send her away to school, so she did not enter the Missouri School for the Deaf until three years later, after her mother’s death. Once there, she adapted quickly and graduated in 1895. She then returned to her hometown of Marion, Missouri, where she stayed for two years until entering ...

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Bro. Hart’s “Something Greater”

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pp. 150-155

BRO. HART was a minister. For seven years he had been pastor of the Methodist church in Melton. This was an attractive town that showed signs of being much alive. To the satisfaction of its citizens, it may be said that they were not content to measure their progress merely by their various business successes. For they believed eminently in the building up of character. This they believed should go right along, hand in hand, ...

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Thomas Flowers

Thomas Flowers was born in 1873, and later in life became one of the most notable African American members of the deaf community. After graduation from the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, Flowers was denied admission to Gallaudet College because of his race and later went on to become the first deaf student to graduate from Howard University in Washington, DC. Flowers taught at the North ...

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Life after Graduation

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pp. 157-158

About the year 1886, I was placed in this institution. My people looked upon me as a helpless piece of humanity, because of their inability to converse with me, a little ignorant deaf boy. Here on these sacred grounds my faculties were so wonderfully developed by the earnest experienced instructors that, after nine years as a student I finished the Tailor’s trade, also, printing with a literary education sufficient to enter Howard University, ...

Howard L. Terry

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A Sophomore’s Revenge

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pp. 160-163

Lawrence Allen was the most effeminate student that ever set foot upon the campus, and he greatly deplored it. He possessed an extremely girlish face; he was of medium height, and was far from being robust. Exercise and enter college sports as much as he would, he found it impossible to build himself up, or develop himself better than nature intended him to be. And thus it was that Allen found himself at a great ...

Helen Keller

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New Vision for the Blind

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pp. 164-165

I have visited sweatshops, factories, crowded slums of New York and Washington. Of course I could not see the squalor; but if I could not see it, I could smell it. With my own hands I could feel pinched, dwarfed children tending their younger brothers and sisters, while their mothers tended machines in nearby factories. Besides the advantages of books and of personal experience, I have the advantage of a mind trained to think. In most people I talked with thought is infantile. In the well ...

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Margaret Prescott Montague

Margaret Prescott Montague was born on November 29, 1878 in White Sulphur Springs, Virginia, and relatively little is known about her contribution to the Deaf community in her time, apart from the fact that her 1915 book, Closed Doors, focused on deaf and blind children. Montague went on to write a myriad of literary works, such as The Poet, Miss Kate, and I (1905), Closed Doors ...

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The Little Sign for Friend

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pp. 167-175

Now , there are diversities of gifts, even in a school for deaf children. There was Everett Dwight, for instance, who, in the modeling class, always specialized in pigs— most engaging pigs, with expressively cocked ears, and tails of an unbelievable curliness. There was little Mary Logan, who had learned to say, “I know,” long before any of the other children in her class, and who said it upon all occasions, in season and out. And again, there was great

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The Enchanted Princess

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pp. 175-187

The open door of a farm-house stood wide and dark. Something moved deep in its shadows; there was a flash of pink and the door framed the figure of a little girl. She stood a moment staring listlessly at the warm October landscape; then, descending the steps, sank down on the lowest and dropped her glowering little face to her cupped hands. She was seven years old, but she did ...

Alice Taylor Terry

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Sound—Why Not Let It Alone?

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pp. 188-192

WHAT IS SOUND to the deaf? To be brief and truthful: sound is nothing to us. Why? Simply because we do not hear it. But you will say that we feel sound. Oh yes, to be sure, we feel more or less the vibrations of sound. But bear in mind that there is a very great difference between feeling sound and hearing sound. Those mistaken educators of the deaf, the pure oralists, cannot grasp my meaning here for they themselves ...

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Vera Gammon

Born in 1896, Mabel Vera Gammon was called the “Helen Keller of Minnesota.” Gammon became deaf and blind between the ages of four and five and entered the Minnesota School for the Deaf at the age of ten. “The Three Doors to Knowledge” is an essay that Gammon wrote for her commencement exercises at the Minnesota School for the Deaf; she was said also to have “delivered it in signs” at her ...

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The Three Doors to Knowledge

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pp. 193-196

[WE PRESENT BELOW the graduating essay of Vera Gammon, delivered by her signs at our Commencement Exercises last May. And we can assure our readers that it is Vera’s own work, her own thoughts expressed in her own words. Her teacher made no important changes as to subject matter or phraseology, merely making a few minor suggestions and corrections. We think it is a most impressive showing of ...

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Guie Leo Deliglio

Not much is known about Guie Leo Deliglio, but from what one can infer from her 1923 autobiographical article, “An Unvarnished Tale,” she was born in Omaha, Nebraska. Two years after her birth, she moved to Portland, Oregon, where she learned to read and write. Deafened at the age of nine, Deliglio was enrolled in oral schools, where she graduated in 1914, despite not developing lipreading skills. She attended Willamette University in ...

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The Test of the Heart

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pp. 198-202

AS MRS. RAMSEY came out of her daughter’s room she was met by her son-in-law, Keith Kendell. “How is Gloria?” he asked in signs, and pointed to his wife’s room. “She is doing finely,” signed back Mrs. Ramsey, with the slowness of a hearing person unaccustomed to conversing with the deaf. “The doctor thinks she will soon be able to hear perfectly.” “For her sake I will be glad.” “It is wonderful to think she will have her chance in life again! I hope you understand ...

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Miss Hester of Sunset Valley

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pp. 202-209

THE DEAF OF Sunset Valley date all important events from the day Miss Hester Gregory became a permanent resident of the town. None of us can explain just why she has dominated us since the first day of her invasion, but it is a fact, and one which we are not ashamed to own up to. Even Bill Salstrom, the big Swedish deaf farmer, proudly admits that Miss Hester can twist him around her little finger. I was the first one to see Miss Hester, and being the ...

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George W. Veditz

Veditz was described in 1896 as “A man of pleasing address, courtly in manners and giving outward evidence of being scholarly in his tastes and inclinations— such is George W. Veditz, the distinguished teacher and writer.” Born in 1816 and deafened at eight years old, Veditz attended the Maryland School for the Deaf, from which he graduated in 1875. He entered Gallaudet College and graduated as valedictorian of his class in 1884. Upon graduation, Veditz first ...

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De Mortuis Nil Nisi Bonum

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pp. 211-213

Alexander Graham Bell is dead. He was one of the greatest benefactors of the human race. Through his invention he added to the span of live of every inhabitant of civilized countries where telephone is used, for whatever contrivance saves time adds to one’s hours of life and there is perhaps no greater time-saver than the telephone. The young man or woman of twenty-five years of today has lived more, has seen and experienced more than the ...

Howard L. Terry

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Selections from Mickey’s Harvest: The Checkered Life of an Unusual Boy

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pp. 214-227

[After reading some unflattering gossip about himself, Mickey, now a young adult, reflects on Deaf newspapers at that time.—Eds.] Thus I was baptized, and became a follower of The Deaf Men’s Times. I soon learned what was going on in my world, what the “Big Guns” were doing, and what they wanted to do in the common interest of us all. I read columns of figures showing contributions to the fund of our organizations, which I must soon join; and I saw ...

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James F. Brady

James Brady’s contribution to the Deaf community of his time is his authorship of a series of articles for The Silent Worker in the 1920s. Brady served as the secretary of the Philadelphia Division No. 30 of the National Fraternal Society of the Deaf, and worked as a printer. He was reported to be an alumnus of the Pennsylvania Institute of the Deaf (also known as the Mt. Airy School). Although he called himself ...

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Pro and Con

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pp. 228-232

I have a neighbor—an university graduate—who never came into contact with deaf-mutes till we became acquainted. He had the general conception and impressions of us as a class and very frankly he stated that when he discovered he would live near us he had misapprehensions. He witnessed me and Mrs. Brady conversing in signs. Then he became puzzled when he heard us speak to our children and to those of our ...

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A Christmas Story

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pp. 232-235

Preface—The earth is very, very old as is proved by the archaeological finds by scientists and man in different stages of growth from individuals to communities has existed, but the known history dates back not more than six thousand years. Step by step, age by age man groped his way from darkness—uncouth, hairy brutal—surviving by muscular strength. Stone Age succeeded Bronze Age and it in turn by the Gold Age ...

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Albert V. Ballin

Known for his 1930 book, The Deaf Mute Howls, which was republished by Gallaudet University Press in 1998, Albert Ballin was born in 1861 and around the age of three became deaf from typhoid fever. He attended and graduated from the New York School for the Deaf, and went on to study art in Europe. His talents in art were recognized by the European art community, and he participated in the 1883 ...

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A New York Deaf Artist at Hollywood: Some Experiences in Getting a Foothold in the Movie Studios of Hollywood

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pp. 237-241

Hollywood, with its inexpressibly intriguing charms, has completely captivated my soul and, without struggle, I yield to the alluring prospect of remaining here, her willing slave, to the end of my days. Though only a little more than a year has rolled by since my arrival, this amazingly short space of time has been riotously cluttered up with marvelous adventures and experiences, to review which puts my head in a whirl. If given free rein to the urge ...

James F. Brady

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By Their Signs Ye Shall Know Them

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pp. 242-244

A rag-man's dog and a millionaire’s dog meet and begin to go through preliminaries that seem to be general with canines: bodies erect, suspicious, face-to-face sniffing, round and round maneuvering, more sniffing, dropping of hostility, wagging of tails. They are getting acquainted. The next time the breezes waft the smell of a rag shop the millionaire’s dog kyi’s [sic] to the spot where his acquaintance happens ...

Albert V. Ballin

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In an Impromptu Don Quixotic Tilt with a Modern Wind Mill, called Automobile, with Dire Results to Himself

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pp. 245-247

Only a few short months ago I visited this great and beautifully equipped County Hospital as a guest of Mr. And Mrs. Ormond E. Lewis, whose sister is a nurse there. Certainly this hospital is one of the largest in this country, and so it looked to me as I took dinner there with over five hundred nurses assembled in its dining hall. It would have elicited a sarcastic smile out of me if a suggestion were offered that I might be carried there, lying flat on my back on a stretcher, to remain as a penitent ...

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Roger Demosthenes O’Kelly

BORN IN 1880 in the Jim Crow South of North Carolina, as a child, Roger Demosthenes O’Kelly was temporarily blinded from scarlet fever at the age of nine and deafened a short time later. O’Kelly enrolled into the North Carolina School for Colored Deaf and Blind, and later Shaw University in Raleigh, NC, where he attended and passed a “three-year law course” in 1909; he was then “admitted to the ...

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A Fight with a Highwayman

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pp. 249-252

The following was prepared in compliance with a request for a summary of O’Kelly’s life and experiences:* One who is endowed with all the senses has a great trust and has been divinely blessed. All enjoy the blessing but few appreciate the blessing or the trust. I have always felt that I had much for which to account and I fervently thank the only true God that, coming “out of the night that covered me,” I realized ...

Albert V. Ballin

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The Life of a Lousy Extra

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pp. 253-256

Yes,I am one of the thousands of those classed as “Extra Talent” who swarm and buzz around the casting offices of Movie Studios. I do not know how this term originated but I suspect it was invented as a sarcasm and derision, and it stuck ever since. As often happens, I have to get up at an ungodly hour, hurry and call at the Studio at seven in the morning. If late, my call would be cancelled. As I live in the heart of ...

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Howard T. Hofsteater

Born in 1909 to Deaf parents who were both educators, Hofsteater’s early communication consisted primarily of fingerspelling. Hofsteater’s parents constantly used fingerspelling and sign language around Hofsteater; they talked “casually and constantly to me on their fingers, just as hearing people do vocally to their babies—whether or not I was paying any attention” (emphasis in original). Initially homeschooled, Hofsteater entered the Alabama School for the Deaf and Blind in the fourth grade. He ...

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The Wound

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p. 258-258

On leave in Paris, Julian and I were sitting across from each other at a wine-stained table in a corner of a barroom on the Quai d’Orsay. I was reading a small leather notebook, on the mud-spattered pages of which were scrawled a number of short poems, the outpourings of a sensitive soul suddenly exposed to the roar of cannon and the stench of rotting flesh in a world gone mad. I lingered over a few phrases and rhymes; my ...

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pp. 259-260

Jennifer Nelson and Kristen Harmon have compiled an incredible panorama of Deaf America spanning a century, from 1830 to 1930, with more than forty selections of original prose produced by Deaf Americans. This period is rife with a variety of challenges as the Deaf American community grew out of local communities and merged into a national identity as the nineteenth century drew to a close. Jennifer ...

E-ISBN-13: 9781563685668
E-ISBN-10: 1563685663
Print-ISBN-13: 9781563685651
Print-ISBN-10: 1563685655

Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2013

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Subject Headings

  • Deaf, Writings of the, American.
  • American literature -- 20th century.
  • Deaf authors.
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