• Hearing Happiness: Fakes, Frauds, and Fads in Deafness Cures

    I’m happy to announce that I signed a contract with University of Chicago Press to publish my first book, Hearing Happiness: Fakes, Frauds, and Fads in Deafness Cures. The book explores the history of therapeutic choices and negotiations respecting “deafness cures,” including Eustachian tube catheterization, artificial eardrums, electrical apparatuses, the fenestration operation, and an abundance… Continue Reading

  • [My Guest Post] Deafness as a Public Health Issue

    In May, I took up my position as the 2016 Klemperer Fellow in the History of Medicine at the New York Academy of Medicine. Thanks to the wonderful staff there, especially Arlene Shanter, I was able to dig through the library’s trove of materials on otologists in the 1920s and 1930s and their collaborations with social… Continue Reading

  • The 20 Minute Surgery that Cured a Prince’s Deafness

    In 1923, the New York Times and Time Magazine reported that King Alfonso of Spain summoned a famous New York osteopath to treat his fifteen-year-old son, Infante Don Jaime (1908-1975). Deaf and mute following a severe case of mastoiditis (middle-ear infection) and possibly tuberculosis at a young age, Don Jaime was adjudged “incurable” by Spanish… Continue Reading

  • Can Airplane Rides Cure Deafness?

    On my flight from Toronto to Phoenix last week, I passed the time by reading a series of letters from deaf persons sent to the American Medical Association during the 1930s. I collected the letters from a summer visit to the AMA archives but  never had the time to properly examine them. Most of the… Continue Reading

  • Can Vitamin B Cure Deafness?

    In 1934, a surgeon examined the medical histories and nutrition diaries of his deaf patients. He soon noticed that most of his patients ate very little food containing vitamin B, which was essential for heathy nerves. He then pondered: could cases of nerve deafness be cured simply by adding more vitamin B to a diet?… Continue Reading

  • 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

  • Diagnosing Deafness by Perspiration

    “The most difficult form of deafness to diagnose has been deafness in infants,” a March 1954 article in Life magazine declared. So how could physicians or audiologists determine hearing loss in children too young to respond to standard audiometric tests or make use of picture screening tests that require an understanding of primary words? If… Continue Reading