Guide to the Rhode Island School for the Deaf records and photographs , 1877-1974


Rhode Island State Archives
Rhode Island State Archives
337 Westminster Street
Providence, RI 02903
Tel: 401-222-2353
Fax: 401-222-3199
email: statearchives@sos.ri.gov

Published in 2009

Collection Overview

Title:Rhode Island School for the Deaf records and photographs
Date range:1877-1974
Creator:Rhode Island School for the Deaf
Extent:3.6 cubic feet other
Abstract:The Rhode Island School for the Deaf records and photographs contain minutes of the Board of Trustees, annual reports, photographs that were used in the annual reports, admissions, rosters, teachers’ registers and student registrations.
Language of materials:English
Repository:Rhode Island State Archives
Collection number:2001-98

Scope & content

The Rhode Island School for the Deaf records and photographs contain minutes of the Board of Trustees, annual reports, photographs that were used in the annual reports, admissions, rosters, teachers’ registers and student registrations.

Arrangement

The Rhode Island School for the Deaf records and photographs are arranged into the following series:
  • Series 1. Annual Reports
  • Series 2. Rosters
  • Series 3. Student Registrations
  • Series 4. Teachers’ School Registers/Attendance Lists [Restricted]
  • Series 5. Admissions [Restricted]
  • Series 6. Minutes of the Board of Trustees
  • Series 7. Photographs

Historical note

The State of Rhode Island first became aware of the need for formal education of the deaf in 1836 when the General Assembly directed town clerks to report the number, age, sex, and economic status of deaf persons, and the extent of their education. The response showed that there were 51 persons so afflicted, 21 males and 30 females. Five of these were educated at the American Asylum at Hartford, Connecticut; eleven were partially educated and thirty five were without education.

Most were being supported by their families and the majority were destitute. Rhode Island started subsidizing the education of the deaf in 1845 and all the education that the children received was at the American Asylum until 1873 when legislation was enacted permitting the placement of a deaf child at the Horace Mann Day School in Boston.

The establishment of a school in Rhode Island was done solely through the efforts of Mrs. Henry Lippitt, mother of a deaf girl, Jeanie Lippitt. Mrs. Lippitt probably had more to do with the establishment of oralism in this country than any other person. Mrs. Lippitt was determined that her daughter be taught to speak. She could not find a school that taught both lip reading and speech so she taught Jeanie herself, inventing her own method as she went along. It was the results of Mrs. Lippitts hard, imaginative work and Jeanie’s achievements that influenced Mrs. Harriet B. Rodgers to recognize the potential of lip reading for the deaf. Mrs. Rodgers later founded the Clarke School.

Among Jeanie’s later teachers were Miss Mary C. Wheeler, who later founded the now prestigious Mary C. Wheeler School in Providence (some of our own students have taken courses there), and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. She went to Papantis Dancing School in Boston and danced with the wife of Theodore Roosevelt, among others. She was very friendly with Mabel Hubbard, who later became the wife of Dr. Alexander Graham Bell. Mabel, who was also deaf, was taught by Mrs. Lippitt. Jeanie later went to Dr. Bell for voice training lessons. Dr. Bell had to discontinue these to devote himself to the development of the talking machine. The first message on the telephone was sent from the stage of the old Providence Theatre by Dr. Bell and Mr. Hubbard to Boston. Jeanie was on the stage with Dr. Bell. Television was Dr. Bells idea - so that his wife and Jeanie could do their own talking over the phone. He never fully developed it, however. Mrs. Lippitt established a school for the deaf in Rhode Island in 1876. The state, through her efforts and the efforts of her husband, the Governor, took over the school in 1877. Joseph Warren Homer was the first Principal. The school opened with five pupils. Nine people have headed the Rhode Island School for the Deaf since its inception. Each person left his or her unique contribution.

Access & Use

Access to the collection:Portions of this accession are restricted per RIGL §42-8.1-7 (b).
Use of the materials:Copyright is in the public domain unless otherwise specified. We reserve the right to restrict reproduction of materials due to preservation concerns.
Preferred citation:Rhode Island School for the Deaf records and photographs, 2001-98, Rhode Island State Archives.
Contact information: Rhode Island State Archives
Rhode Island State Archives
337 Westminster Street
Providence, RI 02903
Tel: 401-222-2353
Fax: 401-222-3199
email: statearchives@sos.ri.gov

Administrative Information

ABOUT THE COLLECTION 
Acquisition:Transferred from Peter Blackwell, Director of the Rhode Island School for the Deaf, 1 Corliss Street, Providence, Rhode Island 02908 in 2001.
ABOUT THE FINDING AID 
Author:Finding aid prepared by Kate Telford.
Encoding:Finding aid encoded by Kate Telford 2009 April 15
Descriptive rules:Finding aid based on Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS)

Additional Information

Inventory


Series 1. Annual Reports
Box 1, Folder 1-18

ContainerDescriptionDate
Box 1, Folder 1-18Annual Reports
Contents Note: Annual reports of the Principal and then the Board of Trustees of the Rhode Island School/Institute for the Deaf. The annual reports include reports of the principal, dentist, aurist (A specialist of the diseases of the ear), and physician. The report includes the financial statement for the past year; school calendar, daily program, classes and coursework; accomplishments and products produced from the industrial arts and domestic science classes; and a listing of all board members, officers and teachers of the school; and photographs.

1877-1934 (with gaps)

Series 2. Rosters
Box 1, Folder 19-30

ContainerDescriptionDate
Box 1, Folder 19-30Rosters
Contents Note: A listing of all students for each academic year. Includes the student's name, date entered, name of parent(s), address and religion (C - Catholic, J - Jewish, P -Protestant).

1923-1973 (with gaps)

Series 3. Student Registrations
Box 1, Folder 39

ContainerDescriptionDate
Box 1, Folder 39Student Registrations
Contents Note: Information on students who entered the school from its inception in 1877 to 1905. Data includes name, date of birth, place of birth, age at which the child became deaf, cause of deafness, address, date entered school. Includes index.

1877-1905

Series 4. Teachers' School Registers/Attendance Lists [Restricted]
Box 1/2, Folder 31-38/5

ContainerDescriptionDate
Box 1/2, Folder 31-38/5Teachers' School Registers/Attendance Lists [Restricted]
Contents Note: Attendance list of students for the academic year. September 1924 - June 1928, September 1972 - June 1973. Master Attendance, February - June 1972. Master Attendance, September 1973 - January 1974. Absence Lists - A record of each student's absences listed by teacher and academic year. May include date entered the school and dated graduated and summary of days present, absent and tardy. Students are listed alphabetically. Mac - Z, 1943-1972. This series is restricted per RIGL § 42-8.1-7 (b). Direct all queries to the State Archivist.

1924-1974

Series 5. Admissions [Restricted]
Box 2 and 4

ContainerDescriptionDate
Box 2 and 4Admissions [Restricted]
Contents Note: Data gathered on each student that seeks admission to the school. Data includes name, date and place of birth, cause of deafness, communication skills, vaccination data, and nativity. 1889-1899 (boards and binding separated from spine), 1900-1922 (boards and binding separated from spine), 1922-1940 (boards and binding separated from spine), 1940-1948 (portion of index, A-D, missing), 1952-1967. This series is restricted per RIGL § 42-8.1-7 (b). Direct all queries to the State Archivist.

1889-1967

Series 6. Minutes of the Board of Trustees
Box 3, Folder 1-2

ContainerDescriptionDate
Box 3, Folder 1-2Minutes of the Board of Trustees
Contents Note: May 19, 1891 to January 7, 1908 and January 7, 1908 to December 3, 1919 - includes financial statements and by-laws.

1891-1908

Series 7. Photographs
Box 5-6

ContainerDescriptionDate
Box 5-6Photographs
Contents Note: Black and white 8x10 photoprints used in the Board of Trustees Annual Reports. See Photograph database for further description. The photographs are mounted on archival mat board. Photographs first appear in the Annual Reports in 1895.

undated