Travel with Deaf journalist Henri Gaillard as he describes deaf labor leaders seeking jobs for deaf workers to support the nation's entry into World War I, how local deaf persons founded the first Deaf clubs and churches, and more at the beginning of the 20th century.
In 1917, Henri Gaillard led a delegation of deaf French men to the United States for the centennial celebration of the American School for the Deaf (ASD). The oldest school for deaf students in America, ASD had been cofounded by renowned deaf French teacher Laurent Clerc, thus inspiring Gaillard’s invitation. Gaillard visited deaf people everywhere he went and recorded his impressions in a detailed journal. His essays present a sharply focused portrait of the many facets of Deaf America during a pivotal year in its history.
Gaillard crossed the Atlantic only a few weeks after the United States entered World War I. In his writings, he reports the efforts of American deaf leaders to secure employment for deaf workers to support the war effort. He also witnesses spirited speeches at the National Association of the Deaf convention decrying the replacement of sign language by oral education. Gaillard also depicts the many local institutions established by deaf Americans, such as Philadelphia’s All Souls Church, founded in 1888 by the country’s first ordained deaf pastor, and the many deaf clubs established by the first wave of deaf college graduates in their communities. His journal stands as a unique chronicle of the American Deaf community during a remarkable era of transition.
Henri Gaillard was the editor of the Gazette des Sourd-Muets (Deaf Gazette), at that time the only independent newspaper in France devoted to its Deaf community. He died in 1941.