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Deaf Autonomy and Sign in the Chicago Public Day Schools during the Turn of the Twentieth Century: -イリノイ州シカゴを中心に-



This paper examines how sign was accepted in the Chicago day schools for the deaf, during the turn of twentieth century and how deaf people had a voice and became involved in decision making regarding quality day school education for deaf children. The issues about sign and deaf autonomy should not be understood only as problems within deaf education. Big cities like Chicago experienced social changes which caused various social problems. Cities were forced to solve these problems by implementing public school education. This means we need to address the development of public school systems. The sign method was not excluded in the Chicago day schools from its foundation to the mid-1880s, because the Chicago Board of the Education didn’t pay attentions to the methods adopted in deaf schools or the quality of education. The board seemed more interested in resolving the problem of increasing numbers of uneducated deaf children. However, after the late 1880s, the city’s board of education and the state authorities started to be concerned about the quality of the Chicago day schools. The motives were guided by the Chicago deaf community who protested against the mismanagement of the Chicago day schools, the influence of A.G. Bell’s day school movement, and the Progressivists and Chicago citizens who advocated the improvement of society on all levels, including education. Progressivists and citizens believed in equal treatment and educational opportunity for all people including minority groups and disabled children. Therefore, they could not agree with the boarding plan which would separate deaf children from their hearing homes and local communities. Integration and the oral method were preferred by Progressivists and citizens rather than the sign method which normal people never used. Deaf autonomy in the Chicago day schools was not restricted until the mid1890s. The Chicago board initially expected deaf people’s involvement in the Chicago deaf schools reform movement in the late 1890s. Interestingly, another deaf group criticized the Chicago schools’ educational quality and Emery’s superintendency. Furthermore, parents became active and formed the parent association of deaf children. They initiated the school reform movement preferring small day schools and the oral method. The expansion of parents’ role in deaf day schools reflected the notion in public school education where positive educational results depended not only on the pupils’ abilities but also on strong cooperation between parents and schools. The fact that the association members included both hearing people and deaf people indicates the complexity of deaf community. Namely, deaf people formed a variety of deafness-related groups and also expressed different opinions on deaf education.
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President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address in 1863 reminded Americans that their country had been founded with a "government of the people, by the people, and for the people." In like manner, thirty years later in Lincoln's home state of Illinois, the Chicago Mission for the Deaf was founded as a movement of the deaf, by the deaf, and for the deaf. As early as 1892, the Chicago Mission was recognized as having the largest deaf congregation in the country. Furthermore, untold hundreds of deaf people who were not members of the congregation benefited from its work over the years. This uniquely deaf institution transcended limitations of geography, denominational affiliation, ethnicity, and even gender roles in its success.
This paper discusses the history of a day school for deaf pupils in the Evansville, Indiana, public school system and its relationship to the stateoperated residential school for deaf children in Indianapolis. By the 1880s, when the Evansville day school challenged the Indiana Institution's monopoly of deaf education, the Indianapolis school was powerful and politically well-connected. It had not always been that way. William Willard, a deaf man, founded the Indiana Institution for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb as a small private school in 1843, and it was not until the next year that the state of Indiana took over, ensuring the school's future viability but, at the same time, creating a number of potential problems. The conflict with the Evansville day school brought these problems to light and provides an unusual window into deaf education in the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It also challenges other interpretations of day schools, sign language, and the role of deaf people in deaf education at the close of the nineteenth century.