Deaf History

Here you will find papers, photos and video relating to deaf history, in particular as it applies to the Bristol deaf community. We are working mostly on materials over 200 years (but as you can see below we are also looking much further into the past) . The work on curating the materials from this area began in 2015 . There was a DeafWorlds 2-day event in 2016 and we hope to expand on this with a great deal of new material in 2024.

Some examples of the initial work on Deaf History

We are working on a huge range of materials and will present them soon on our history photos and history video pages

One example of interest is the writings of De Bracton (13th Century) on how deaf people could give testimony (or not). The issues of deafness and being dumb in legal cases is a problem because of the requirement that defendants should plead in speech (oralism?). The way around it was a particular treatment called pine fort et dure. This was still in use in 1721 as this extract from Notes and Queries in 1864 explains.

Another work of fiction which is rather famous is Doctor Marigold’s Prescription written by Charles Dickens and published in 1865