• 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

  • The Reed Hearing Test

    “Many children have been thought to be mentally very dull when, in fact, they have been partially or severely deaf.” During my research excursion at Gallaudet University Library, I came across a little green book in the stacks, lodged next to a book that was on my list of materials to examine. Curious, I pulled… Continue Reading

  • Letters from Philadelphia

    In the late nineteenth century, deafness was transformed into “Deafness,” shifting from a medical affliction towards a cultural category with its own language offering a unique perspective of the world. At the core of this transformation were educators and pupils at residential schools for the deaf. Educators were retrained in new pedagogical framework, adopting the… Continue Reading

  • The Drouet Institute’s Tribe of Petty Rat-Swindlers

    Sometime in the early 1880s, a man by the name of J.H. Nicholson, who called himself an “aural specialist,” introduced himself to a French doctor by the name of Drouet. Hospitalized for tuberculosis aggravated by alcohol, the doctor was once an obscure general practitioner operating in the tough Belleville district in Paris. It appeared that… Continue Reading

  • REVIEW: Medical Monopoly

    BOOK REVIEW Joseph M. Gabriel, Medical Monopoly: Intellectual Property Rights and the Origins of the Modern Pharmaceutical Industry (Chicago & London: The University of Chicago Press, 2014). In the 1980s, historians began to refer to the “medical marketplace” as a model for analyzing the experiences of health and illness. Adopting a normative understanding of the… Continue Reading

  • REVIEW: Sounds of Modern History

    Book Review: Sounds of Modern History: Auditory Cultures in 19th and 20th Century Europe Edited by Daniel Morat (Berghahn Books, 2014) As a historian who studies the history of deafness, I am fascinated with the experiences and histories of sound and auditory perception. Sounds have become so ubiquitous to daily living that it seems only… Continue Reading

  • The School on Wheels

    The school bell is no longer a new voice in the wilderness. It is an accept part of the educational system of Ontario. May it continue to ring out its welcome call up the hillsides and through the forest isles of the North for it carries a message of health, hope and power to the… 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