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Eighth Report Of The Directors Of The American Asylum For The Education And Instruction Of The Deaf And Dumb (1824)

“During the first half of the nineteenth century, deaf educators saw their primary goal as ensuring that deaf students learned the Christian gospel. Like educators of blind children and those labeled as idiotic, teachers of deaf children had several other goals, including teaching basic academic skills and providing vocational training. This report also discusses some of the challenges faced by educators of deaf children and their counterparts at schools for blind and idiotic children…”Continue Reading »

Contract Between Thomas Gallaudet And Laurent Clerc (1816)

Thomas Gallaudet, a Congregationalist minister, and Laurent Clerc, a French Roman Catholic, formed a partnership to establish an institution of deaf education. This partnership was formalized in the following contract, written before Clerc traversed the Atlantic with Gallaudet. One important aspect of their contract pertained to their religious differences.Continue Reading »

Clerc, Monsieur Laurent

Thomas Gallaudet had come to England to learn about education for the deaf in hopes of setting up a school in Connecticut. At Sicard’s invitation, Gallaudet accompanied the Frenchmen back to Paris, where he spent some months at the Institution. When he grew homesick for Hartford, Laurent Clerc agreed to return with him and help him set up a school and be its first teacher.Continue Reading »

Cretins And Idiots (1858)

Of those not affected by epilepsy, who are brought under instruction in childhood, from one third to one fourth may be so far improved as to become capable of performing the ordinary duties of life with tolerable fidelity and ability. They may acquire sufficient knowledge to be able to read, to write, to understand the elementary facts of geography, history, and arithmetic; they may be capable of writing a passable letter; they may acquire a sufficient knowledge of farming, or of the mechanic arts, to be able to work well and faithfully under appropriate supervision; they may attain a sufficient knowledge of the government and laws under which they live, to be qualified to exercise the electoral franchise quite as well as many of those who do exercise it; they may make such advances in morals, as to act with justice and honor toward their fellow-men, and exhibit the influence of Christianity in changing their degraded and wayward natures to purity, chastity, and holiness.Continue Reading »

Moral Treatment of the Insane: 1847

That some cases of insanity require medical treatment we believe, but we also believe that a large majority of the patients in Lunatic Asylums do not. There is much analogy between many of the patients found in all such institutions, and the passionate, mischievous, and what are called bad boys in a school, and there is about as much propriety in following the example of Mrs. Squeers, and physicing and medicating the latter as the former, in order to cure them or to change their propensities. Rational hopes for the improvement of either, should we believe, be founded on moral management alone.Continue Reading »

Moral Treatment

Written by Dr. James W. Trent, Jr., Gordon College. “Moral treatment was a product of the Enlightenment of the late eighteenth century. Before then people with psychiatric conditions, referred to as the insane, were usually treated in inhumane and brutal ways.”Continue Reading »

Three Years In A Mad House (1851)

“Astounding Disclosures! Three Years In A Mad House,” by Isaac H. Hunt, 1851. Hunt, a former patient at the Maine Insane Hospital published a scathing attack on his treatment by the institution’s attendants and doctors. Isaac Hunt describes all sorts of abuses and mistreatment. His account makes people wonder whether or not the asylum offered conditions better than those uncovered in local almshouses and jails by the investigative reports of Dorothea Dix. Out of Hunt’s complaints came an investigation by the Maine Legislature into conditions at the asylum.Continue Reading »

Listening to Patients: The Opal as a Source

The Opal, which was “dedicated to usefulness,” is a ten volume Journal that was written and edited by the patients of the Utica State Lunatic Asylum, (1851 – 1860). The more than 3,000 pages of material in The Opal includes political commentary, humor, advice, and theory on insanity in the form of articles, poetry, prose, cartoons, plays, and literature.Continue Reading »

Tewksbury Almshouse Investigation

As can be seen in this excerpt from the Lowell Weekly Sun’s coverage of the Tewksbury investigation, people with disabilities made up a significant proportion of the population of poorhouses. By the 1860s, many states had established institutions to educate deaf, blind, and cognitively disabled children and people deemed temporarily insane. People with other impairments—and especially disabled adults—whose families could not support them had no recourse other than the poorhouse. Moreover, conditions within almshouses often proved disabling or even deadly.Continue Reading »

Assistance for the Disabled (1931)

“Program of Assistance for the Crippled:” Radio address by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1931. “I want to talk, of course, about the big human side of relieving distress and helping people to get on their feet, but at the same time I think there is another phase of the broad question of looking after cripples to which some people have never given much thought–the financial side.”Continue Reading »

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