Tuesday, January 04, 2011

January 4: George T. Dougherty (1860-1938)

[Image description: 19c. portrait of George T. Dougherty as a young white man, with dark hair and a full beard]

Who would have dreamed one hundred years ago that this could ever be possible? Then the deaf were uneducated and widely scattered, unknown to each other; their influence, of course, was nil.

--George T. Dougherty, at the 1893 World's Congress of the Deaf, as quoted in H-Dirksen L. Bauman, Open Your Eyes: Deaf Studies Talking (University of Minnesota Press 2008): 101.

Born on this date 151 years ago, in Franklin County, Missouri, chemist George T. Dougherty. He was deaf after surviving typhoid fever at age 2. Dougherty attended the Missouri School for the Deaf, and then Gallaudet College, where he earned undergraduate and masters degrees. Dougherty's specialty was industrial chemistry, mainly working in the steel industry in Chicago. He devised processes for determining the nickel and vanadium content of steel, and the salt content of petroleum. Dougherty was one of the founders of the National Association of the Deaf, chaired the World's Congress of the Deaf in 1893 (timed to coincide with the World's Fair in Chicago that year), and was a strong supporter of state schools and rigorous academics for deaf students (he and his wife were both state school alumni).

See also:

H. G. Lang, Silence of the Spheres: The Deaf Experience in the History of Science (Westport CT: Bergin & Garvey 1994).

Fina Perez, "Curriculum Guide for Discussing Deaf Scientists," Resources for Enhancing Science and Mathematics Education of Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students (website).

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