• On Tonsils, Deafness & Stammering

    In 1841, the aurist James Yearsley (1805-1866) argued the tonsils often produce obstructions that could cause deafness. As he explained: tonsils are placed in the vicinity of the Eustachian canals, and when considerably enlarged…they press on the mouths of the tubes as to cause obstruction or occlusion. Furthermore, he explained that aurists do not often… Continue Reading

  • The Deaf & Dumb in Manchester

    Back in May, I stopped by Manchester, UK, for two days, to see some friends before heading to Cambridge and London. Many scholars of history of science were in the city for the 24th International Congress of History, Science, Technology, and Medicine, including some of my friends, who were presenting papers at the Congress. After… Continue Reading

  • An Active Interest in Otology

    In September 1876, the first International Congress of Otology was held New York. The Congress was organized by aural surgeons Daniel Bennett St. John Roosa (1838-1908), Clarence J. Blake (1843-1919), Jakob Hermann Knapp (1832-1911), and J. Orne Greene. These surgeons were all members of the American Otological Society, which was formed in 1868.Urban Pritchard (1845-1925),… Continue Reading

  • Galvanism & Deafness

    Galvanism is a medical treatment that involves the application of electric currents to body tissues in order to stimulate the contraction of muscles. First experimented in the late eighteenth-century by Luigi Galvani (1737-1798) who investigated frog legs twitching once sparked by an electric current, galvanism was believed to be a miraculous application of scientific prowess… Continue Reading

  • Boastful Pretensions

    In 1908, V. Walbram Chapnnam wrote to John McKinna, secretary for the Metropolitan Ear, Nose, and Throat Hospital on 64 Grafton St., London. In his correspondence, Chapnnam encloses a copy of a letter dated 6th April, from a person calling himself Herbert Clifton who styled himself as a “Aural Specialist.” The copy included an advertisement… Continue Reading

  • A Red Conversation Tube

    Check out my latest post over on Nineteenth-Century Disability: Cultures & Contexts: 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 seventeenth-century,… Continue Reading

  • Toynbee & Mrs. Valpy’s Ear

    In August 1846, the aurist Joseph Toynbee (1815-1866) married Harriet Holmes (1822-1897), daughter of Nathaniel Holmes. The couple eventually had nine children: Gertrude (b.1848), William (b.1849), Lucy (b.1850), Arnold (1852-1883), Rachel (b.1853), Paget Jackson (1855-1932), Mary H. (b.1856), Grace Poleridge (b.1856), and Harry Valpy (b.1861). The Toynbee children boasted remarkable achievements: Arnold Toynbee was the… Continue Reading

  • Institution for Curing Diseases of the Ear

    In 1838, James Yearsley established the Institution for Curing Diseases of the Ear on 32 Sackville St., London. The institution would eventually be renamed the Metropolitan Ear Institute, and later the Metropolitan Ear, Nose, and Throat Hospital, moving to Fitzroy Square in 1911. The 1839 Annual Report of the Institution outlined Yearsley’s fundamental agenda: (1)… Continue Reading

  • The Audiphone

    I wrote a new entry over at Nineteenth-Century Disability: A Digital Reader: 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 loss[1] for twenty years following a bout of… Continue Reading

  • A Census of the Deaf

    Sir William Robert Wilde (1815-1876) was one of the most notable aural surgeons during the second half of the nineteenth-century. He made numerous to aural surgery, including tables on the hereditary basis of deafness and newer hearing tests to determine degrees of hearing loss. Wilde also made extensive use of statistics in his writing, using… Continue Reading

  • Deaf in Court

    In the course of my dissertation research, an aspect of which includes advertisements for “deaf cures,” I come across plenty of newspaper snippets on legal cases against “quack aurists.” These are fascinating because they shed light into how claims about fraud as represented in the legal briefs, tied the cloak of quackery on aural surgery… Continue Reading

  • A tooth or two or four

    A letter from W.W. Roffey to Edward Davis, the Honorary Dental Surgeon appointed to the Metropolitan Ear, Nose, & Throat Hospital: 23 Moidea Rd. Buckingham, Kent 16th March 1908 Sir, I would like to invite your remarks in regard to the following. On 25th..shortly before 2/30pm my wife attended the Ear & Throat Hospital, Grafton… Continue Reading