"The World is Wide Enough for Us Both”: The Manitoba School for the Deaf at the Onset of the Oralist Age, 1889-1920
Historical research on the oralist era in North American deaf education has typically been undertaken through a national lens. This study asserts that a more localized and regional view of the communication methods practiced at deaf schools will aid in the creation of a more complex picture of how oralism spread in Canadian and North American deaf schools. Based on an analysis of the papers of the Manitoba Ministry of Public Works; the archives of Silent Echo, the Manitoba School’s newspaper; and published works by the school’s principals, this paper contends that strict oralism faced fierce resistance in Manitoba from both Deaf citizens and teachers, as well as the school’s hearing principal, before 1920. Principal Duncan McDermid and deaf teacher J.R. Cook published and republished arguments in the Echo against oralism and in favour of moderation in the sign debate. In consideration of all three characteristics of strictly oralist schools in the early twentieth century – a ban on sign language, separation of deaf students from Deaf communities, and the expulsion of deaf teaching staff – the Manitoba School for the Deaf emerges as an exception to the trend of encroaching oralism in Canadian deaf schools during the early twentieth-century.
GS 0123 GR1607.
Silent Echo vols 1 – 10. Deaf Heritage Room, Manitoba School for the Deaf (DHR, MSD),
Silent Echo vols 11-17. Legislative Library, Provincial Archives of Manitoba (LL, PAM).
Annual Reports of the MIDD/MSD, 1890-1920. DHR, MSD and LL, PAM.
American Annals for the Deaf 39 no. 1 (January, 1894).
Alcorn, Kerry. Border Crossings: U.S. Culture and Education in Saskatchewan, 1905-1937.
Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2013.
Baynton, Douglas. “Disability and the Justification for Inequality in American History.” In The
New Disability History: American Perspectives, edited by Paul K. Longmore and Lauri
Umansky, 33-57. New York: New York University Press, 2001.
Baynton, Douglas. Forbidden Signs: American Culture and the Campaign Against Sign
Language. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.
Buchanan, Robert M. “The Silent Worker Newspaper and the Building of a Deaf Community,
1890-1929.” In Deaf History Unveiled: Interpretations from the New Scholarship. Edited by John Vickrey Van Cleve, 172-197. Washington, D.C.: Gallaudet University Press, 1993.
Burch, Susan. Signs of Resistance: American Deaf Cultural History, 1900 to World War II. New
York: New York University Press, 2002.
Carbin, Clifton. Deaf Heritage in Canada: A Distinct, Diverse, and Enduring Culture. Toronto:
McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1996.
Cleall, Esme. “’Deaf to the Word’: Gender, Deafness and Protestantism in Nineteenth-Century
Britain and Ireland.” Gender and History 25, no. 3 (November 2013), 590-603.
Edwards, R.A.R. Words Made Flesh: Nineteenth-Century Deaf Education and the Growth of
Deaf Culture. New York: New York University Press, 2012.
Ellis, Jason. “‘All Methods and Wedded to None’: The Deaf Education Methods Debate and
Progressive Educational Reform in Toronto, Canada, 1922-1945.” Paedagogica Historica 50, no. 3 (2014): 371-389.
Hutchison, Iain. “Oralism: A Sign of the Times? The Contest for Deaf Communication in
Education Provision in Late-Nineteenth Century Scotland.” European Review of History 14, no. 2 (2007): 481-501.
Iozzo, Alessandra. “’Silent Citizens’: Citizenship Education, Disability, and d/Deafness at the
Ontario Institution for the Education of the Deaf, 1870-1914.” PhD diss., University of Ottawa, 2015.
Pemberton, Neil. “Deafness and Holiness: Home Missions, Deaf Congregations, and Natural
Language 1860-1890.” Victorian Review 35, no. 2 (Fall 2009): 65-82.
Perrault, Stephane-D. “Intersecting Discourses: Deaf Institutions and Communities in Montreal,
1850-1920.” PhD diss., McGill University, 2003.
Reis, Michael. “’A Tale of Two Schools: The Indiana Institution and the Evansville Day School,
1879-1912.” The Deaf History Reader, edited by John Vickrey Van Cleve, 85-115.. Washington, D.C.: Gallaudet University Press, 2009.
Roots, James. “Deaf Education and Advocacy: A Short History of the Canadian Association of
the Deaf.” In Making Equality: History of Advocacy and Persons with Disabilities in Canada. Edited by Deborah Stienstra and Aileen Wight-Felske, 73-86. Concord, ON:
Captus Press, 2003.
Stamp, Robert. “Teaching the ‘Children of Silence’: Samuel Greene and the Hearing-Impaired.”
Historical Studies in Education 17, no. 1 (2005): 165-68.
Winefield, Richard. Never the Twain Shall Meet: The Communications Debate. Washington,
D.C.: Gallaudet University Press, 1987.
Winzer, Margret. “Education, Urbanization, and the Deaf Community: A Case Study of
Toronto, 1870-1900.” In Deaf History Unveiled: Interpretations From the New Scholarship. Edited by John Vickrey Van Cleve, 127-145. Washington, D.C., Gallaudet University Press, 1993.