• The Aurist and the American

    From the Pall Mall Gazette, Friday 22 February 1889: A distinguished “aurist” was once rather amusingly “done” by an enterprising American, who bounced into his room one morning, exclaiming, in stentorian through nasal tones, “Say, before we do bus’ness, guess I should like to know the price of fixing me up.” “Two guineas for the first… Continue Reading

  • Friday Evening Discourse

    18 Savile Row. Burlington Gardens. W | 10 Feb 1860 Dear Mr. Faraday, Having been unsuccessful in my attempts to obtain a ticket for Mr. Huxley’s lecture* tonight I shall esteem it a favour if you can give me one. Believe me yours sincerely & obliged, Joseph Toynbee *Thomas Henry Huxley’s Friday Evening Discourse of… Continue Reading

  • The Expulsion of “Lewis”

    During fall of 1848, a practitioner imposed himself upon the inhabitants of Newcastle-on-Tyne, announcing himself as “Mr. Yearsley” and distributing posting-bills around the area. Sporting a mustache on the upper lip and an imperial on the nether lip, and a cherished crop and carefully-nourished tuft of hair, he strutted himself peddling his wares. Urging the… Continue Reading

  • Degrees of Listening

    Deafness is a cultural construction as well as a physical phenomenon. The difference between hearing people and deaf people is typically construed as simply a matter of hearing loss. For most, this is the common sense of the matter—deaf people cannot hear, and all else about them seems to follow naturally and necessarily from that… Continue Reading

  • A Word, Aurist.

    The word—or rather, the identity of—“aurist” has an incomplete history. Even right now, as I typed the word, Microsoft Word automatically corrected it to “aorist,” as if questioning my word choice. A quick dictionary search turns up a definition of “an ear specialist” or even “former name for audiologist.” The former is true. The latter… Continue Reading

  • A Letter to Florence Nightingale

    18, Savile Row Burlington Gardens W June 30. 1864 Madam, In reply to your note I beg to say that Miss Agnes Jones suffered from debility of the nervous apparatus of each ear, which debility is likely to be increased by strain of mental or bodily work. Unless the relinquishment of her present duties would… Continue Reading

  • Medicine’s Dark Secrets

    I’m sure for those of you who follow me on Twitter and Facebook already know about this… My dear friend Dr. Lindsey Fitzharris, author of the incredibly popular blog, The Chirurgeon’s Apprentice, has been crowdsourcing for her project, Medicine’s Dark Secrets which will be produced by Big Baby Productions.  As Lindsey explains, the goal of the… Continue Reading

  • A Pictorial History of School Days

    Annual Reports of the Royal School for Deaf Children, Margate (formerly the London Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb) are a wonderfully rich source of lives of deaf children at the school. Below are some photos from the Annual Reports of the 1920s and 1930s. I apologize once again for the poor quality of my… Continue Reading

  • The Light, Vibration, and Electrical Rooms

    An individual by the name of Martin Kroeger published several adverts for treatment of deafness in London’s newspapers, introducing a new treatment that would benefit or cure certain forms of middle-ear deafness. Evan Yellon, the writer of Surdus in Search of His Hearing (1906), a copy which is at the RNID Library on Grey’s Inn… Continue Reading

  • 1825: Electricity as Treatment for Deafness

    William Wright on electricity as treatment (1825): Electricity may be, and we find in some cases of diminished hearing, that it is a powerful auxiliary; but as electrical machines are too often in the hands of men incapable of judging to what cases electricity ought or ought not to be applied, so the author who… Continue Reading

  • 1817: Some Treatments for Deafness

    John Harrison Curtis’ A Treatise on the Physiology and Diseases of the Ear, first published in 1817, lists several common treatments for a variety of ear diseases and deafness: Compound Calomel Pill and ointment made up of equal parts of the nitrated mercurial ointment and an astringent injection called Hugi Lard. Used for herpetic eruption of ears that… Continue Reading