New York: C. Alvord Printer, circa 1856. Unbound. The broadside measures approximately 22” x 17”; the image is about “20 x 16”. The print features wood-engraved portraits of the Abbe de L`Epee and Laura Bridgeman along with images of hands forming letters in both single-hand and double-hand alphabet systems, as well as an illustration of the “new Institution for the Deaf and the Dumb.” The accompanying text advocates for the use of the Single Hand Alphabet. The broadside is in nice shape with some edge wear, storage folds, minor dampstains, and a few short splits and pinholes along those folds. Very good. Item #009005
The “new” Institution for the Deaf and the Dumb was located at Washington Heights on “the east side of the Hudson River, about nine miles from the City Hall, N.Y.” First established in 1818, it was the second school for the deaf to open in the United States, preceded only by Thomas Gallaudet’s and Laurent Clerc’s American School for the Deaf at Hartford.The Abbe de L ‘Epee was one of the founders of deaf education. Although often erroneously credited with inventing sign language, in actuality he was taught to sign by the poverty-stricken deaf community of Paris. He, however, then recorded, categorized, and standardized a sign language so that he and others could use it in education programs throughout France. It was this sign language system that Clerc brought to the United States that became the foundation of American Sign Language including the ASL Alphabet.Laura Bridgeman, who was left deaf and blind after surviving Scarlet Fever at the age of two, was the first American deaf-blind child to gain a significant education. She was enrolled by her father at the Perkins Institute for the Blind, where, under the direction of Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe, she learned to read and communicate using braille and the Abbe de L ‘Epee’s manual alphabet. Although initially treated by Howe as a daughter, he later shunned her after marrying Julia Ward, who, as related by her daughters, had a strong "physical distaste for the abnormal and defective" and a "natural shrinking from the blind and other defectives.” Helen Keller’s mother learned about Bridgeman’s success which was described in Charles Dicken’s American Notes. This led to her hiring of Anne Sullivan, a teacher and former pupil at Perkins. When Sullivan arrived at the Keller household, the gift doll she brought for Helen was wearing clothes made by Laura Bridgeman. As of 2018, one other is currently for sale in the trade. ABPC and the Rare Book Hub report only one sold at auction, and OCLC shows only seven examples held by institutions.