Tuesday, May 3, 2011

~ Deaf & Dumb ~

     Today we use the word 'deaf' but back in the 1800's, a person who couldn't hear or speak was referred to as 'deaf and dumb'.  The 1870 U.S. Federal Census has my great-great-grandfather, Daniel J. Davis, age 10, listed as deaf and dumb.
     Daniel J. Davis was my maternal grandmother, Eleanor's grandfather on her father's side.  Daniel married Flora, also a deaf-mute and together they had three children with no hearing impairments.  Daniel's son, Samuel (my great-grandfather) married Josephine, a deaf-mute.
     Josephine was not born deaf.  She was struck with Scarlett Fever at a very young age.  I don't know at what age she became ill but at age 5, the 1900 census has her listed as a pupil of the Institution for the Improved Instruction of Deaf-Mutes.  She was still a student 10 years later according to the 1910 census.
     The Institution for the Improved Instruction of Deaf-Mutes located in Manhattan,NY was established in 1867 and focused on oralism (teaching children to 'speak) instead of manualism (sign language).
     I was only 9 years old when my great-grandmother, Josephine passed away but I remember my grandmother using sign language to communicate with her mother.  I don't remember if my grandmother actually 'spoke' while signing (I think she did).  I used to sign "eat" to let Josie know that dinner was ready.  My grandmother also taught me to sign my name and "I Love You"  xoxox
     According to my great-grandmother Josephine's death certificate, she was a teacher in a deaf & mute school.    R.I.P. Josie    >Josephine (Duper) Davis 11 Dec. 1894- 17 July 1977

     I share my birthday, June 27, with the famous Helen Keller  who was deaf, (mute), And blind. Like my  great-grandmother, Josie,  Helen Keller was not born deaf and blind but an illness at the age of 19 months cause her to lose these senses.  With the help of her wonderful teacher, Anne Sullivan, Helen learned to speak and even gave many lectures worldwide.

Helen Adams Keller 27 June 1880- 1 June 1968
View Image

Sign Language: http://handspeak.com/

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