Hereditary Deafness

Research Potentially Widens Scope of Vineyard's Historic Deaf Community

Richard Meier and Justin Power, linguistics professors at the University of Texas, have published a new paper entitled The Historical Demography of the Martha’s Vineyard Signing Community, inspired by the seminal work of anthropologist Nora Ellen Groce.

Legacy of Vineyard Deaf Community Endures Today

David Martin, former educator and administrator at Gallaudet, visited Vineyard Haven on Sunday to talk about the legacy of the Martha’s Vineyard deaf community of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Reviving Sign Language on Martha's Vineyard Is Personal and Historical Mission

Lynn Thorp is the energy behind MV Signs: Then and Now, an endeavor to revive Martha’s Vineyard sign language used from the 17th to 19th century.

Listening to the Heartbeat of an Old Chilmark House

One of the more interesting houses up-Island is 231 State Road in Chilmark. It is an unusual house for Chilmark: a Queen Anne style Victorian, painted yellow, with a turret.

I don’t know of any other such houses in Chilmark, whose charm lies in its serene and lovely rolling hills, hidden houses and beaches. It is a very common type of house elsewhere in the United States, the reflection of the prosperity of the late 19th century. Prosperity that had passed Chilmark by and which it was not to achieve until well past the midpoint of the 20th century.

Expert Traces Vineyard Story of Deaf and Their Community

Chilmark fishermen Christopher Murphy approached medical anthropologist Nora Groce after her delivery of the last Nathan Mayhew Seminars lecture of the summer Thursday night, and recalled a remnant of sign language use by old-timers he used to work for.
The news came as pleasant confirmation to Miss Groce, who has spent the better part of the last six years tracing the origins of a community of deaf people who lived pretty much like - and in harmony with - the hearing populace of the Vineyard from its earliest settlement through the 19th century.

As I Remember the Island 60 Years Ago

There were several deaf-and-dumb persons, as deaf-mutes were called, living in the Island towns. Although all of them were considered educated and could read and write, none of them depended upon this method of communicating with one another or with their more fortunate neighbors, but used the sign language. As a result, almost everyone old and young could converse to some extent with the deaf-mutes, and many could use the sign alphabet and spell out words and names for which there were no signs.

Interesting Vineyarders: Saphronia E. Hillman

Just a few issues back, this column carried the biographical sketch of Joseph West of Chilmark, who is a deaf mute. This present article contains a similar sketch of his sister, Mrs. Sophronia E. Hillman, whose faculties are normal. Reared in the same family, it is interesting to correspond the two stories relating to Chilmark of nearly three-quarters of a century ago, as seen by two different pairs of eyes, directed by natural inclinations that had little in common.

Interesting Vineyarders: Joseph E. T. West

This is the story of one who has lived always in the eternal silence, nearly three-quarters of a century without ever hearing the sound of human voice or the song of a bird, and who has never been able to voice a greeting to a friend, for Joseph E. T. West of Chilmark is a deaf mute, the last man of that town to be so afflicted.

Alexander Graham Bell At Edgartown

The death of Alexander Graham Bell arouses renewed interest in the great inventor’s connection with Martha’s Vineyard. Bell’s concern with the island and its people was much more than a thing of the moment. His visits and at least one prolonged stay on the island were the result of his desire to investigate the so-called “deaf-mute” town in Chilmark about which a fictitious tradition had sprung up.

Deaf Mutes on the Vineyard

In an interview with Mr. Frank Z. Maguire, of Washington, who has been on the Vineyard the past week looking up deaf-mute statistics, that gentleman expresses himself as follows with reference to the matter in its local application, and on the general subject: