Nineteenth-Century Disability:  Cultures & Contexts

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  • Tags: Deafness

Agnew_RC_1889.jpg
In 1890, a 36” x 24” painting depicting Queen Victoria communicating with a deaf woman in front of a cozy hearth, was exhibited at the Edinburgh Exhibition. Titled “Royal Condescension,” this was the second of a series painted by the amateur…

BeckerLibrary_RedConverstionTube.jpg
A conversation tube is a non-electric, acoustic device designed to amplify sounds for deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals and is constructed of a flexible tube with a mouthpiece at one end and an ear piece at the other. The device dates to the…

Ear Phonautograph.jpg
As disability theorists such as Douglas Baynton, Jonathan Rée, Lennard J. Davis, Jennifer Esmail, and Jan Branson and Don Miller explain, in both America and England in the mid-nineteenth century, attitudes toward sign language shifted: whereas in…

Audiphone_c1926_BeckerLibrary.jpeg
On September 1879, Richard Silas Rhodes (1842-1902), president of a publishing company in Chicago, received a patent for his “Audiphone for the Deaf” his various improvements to the device. (U.S. Patent No. 319,828). Rhodes had conductive hearing…

webster1.jpg
UK patent #7033, dated 17 March 1836, is the earliest British patent for a hearing aid device, granted to the aurist (19th century term for ear specialist) Alphonso William Webster, for his “curious” invention, the Otaphone (sometimes spelled…

eartrumpetmourning.jpg
The ear trumpet is among the earliest hearing aid devices designed to bring sound more effectively to the ear, dating to as early as 1800 when manufacturer Frederick Charles Rein opened shop in London (later becoming F.C. Rein & Son). They came…

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John Kitto (1804-1854) was a British missionary and writer of religious books who was deafened at the age of 12 by a fall. In his youth, Kitto, who typically worked with his father, a mason, rather than attend school, was also forced to spend time in…

Wilkie Collins.jpg
Wilkie Collins (1824-1889) was a prolific British writer who was famous for his contributions to the genre of “sensation fiction”   including the popular novels The Woman in White (1860) and The Moonstone (1868). Hide and Seek (1854), from which…

bridgmancaswell.jpg
In January of 1842, Charles Dickens paid a visit to the Perkins Institute for the Blind, just outside of Boston, MA, as part of his American tour. There he met Laura Bridgman, whom the director of the institute, Samuel Gridley Howe, touted as the…
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