• PHOTO ESSAY: Storefront Displays

    Two months ago, I was at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., researching through copies of The Hearing Dealer, a trade magazine for dealers and sellers of hearing aids during the 1950s. The magazine is an excellent historical source for examining how dealers went around cultural and legal restrictions for selling hearing aids to… Continue Reading

  • The Otophone

    In the 1870s, E.B. Meyrowitz, an optician in New York City, established a surgical instrument company. By 1887, the company began manufacturing acoustic aids for the deaf, the most prominent of which was the Otophone*. The device was invented by James A. Maloney, who filed for a patent the same year, for a hearing aid… Continue Reading

  • Actina: A Wonder of the 19th Century

    The history of the Actina, an “electric pocket battery” claimed to cure eye and ear diseases, rightly began in a manufacturing factory in Bristol, England. There, William C. Wilson, born in 1837 in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, started a company in the 1870s selling “galvano-magnetic clothing.” After working as an apprentice cabinet maker and an auctioneer in London,… Continue Reading

  • Apparatus for Church

    An 1883 article in Scientific American narrated how a New Jersey clergyman’s deaf wife was finally able to hear her husband’s sermons in church with the aid of an apparatus. As illustrated in the engraving, the apparatus connected a series of trumpets underneath the church floor, connecting the preacher’s desk to the pews, so that the wife… Continue Reading

  • Technology & Deafness

    What can the history of technology tell us about the lived experiences and cultural history of the hearing impaired? During the nineteenth century, acoustic aids became ubiquitous objects, varying in design, form, and amplification. The “Deafness in Disguise” exhibit at the Bernard Becker Medical Library brilliantly narrates the multitude of aids that were available for… Continue Reading