Digitisation and Conservation of Historic Institute for the Deaf Minute Books 1845-1953 and related documents

Feature /

The Digitisation of the Catholic Institute for the Deaf (CID) Minute Books , related Documents and 272 Glass Plate Negatives.

Scheme: Community Heritage Grant Scheme 2020
Ref. Number: CH08707
Project Title: Digitisation of the Catholic Institute for the Deaf (CID) Minute Books , related Documents and 272 Glass Plate Negatives
Amount Awarded: €7,740

The Digitisation of the Catholic Institute for the Deaf (CID) Minute Books and related documents is of paramount importance to the history of the education of the deaf in Ireland between the 1840s and 1950s. These hand written hard bound copies of the CID committee meetings in that period, are an original first source document of the founding, development and expansion of essential educational facilities for St. Joseph’s School for Deaf Boys, under the auspices of the Irish Christian Brothers, and St. Mary’s School for Deaf Girls, under the auspices of the Dominican Order.

The information contained in these Minute Books is a treasury of real-life experiences for deaf children of school going age (primary and secondary). The books and related documents contain the names, addresses, ages, sponsoring agency (referral, parish agency etc.) and admission dates of all pupils attending the above schools from all over Ireland. They chart the education, development, religious instruction, vocational training and, in some cases, the eventual placement of school leavers in apprenticeships. The Minute Books also refer to in-school teaching strategies and out-of-school recreation facilities, including sports, along with designated well-planned infirmary/sick-bay provision. The minutes also cover the continuous debate on the merit of teaching deaf children through oral or sign language methods, a debate that is still relevant in today’s strategies in teaching deaf children.

The presentation and carrying out of the committees’ deliberations, is a real testament to the sincere efforts of benevolent sponsors, various clergy, religious orders, dedicated teachers and supportive parents, who made heroic efforts to improve the educational lot of deaf children. As these Minute Books are digitally archived, research, investigation and evaluation of this most important hidden world is now possible and definitely needed. It is high time to educate and inform the public at large about this amazing history of a minority group that have contributed so much to Irish society over the years.

Over the last few years, students from the Centre for Deaf Studies in Trinity College, Dublin, have engaged in work experience and research in the Deaf Heritage Centre (DHC). With this new digitisation, it is hoped to build on this initiative. It is also hoped to attract further research from professionals, educationalists, linguists and others, deaf and hearing alike, to use the stored information for the continued improvement of the education of the deaf in Ireland. The DHC will highlight this Digitisation to its members, other deaf organisations and the public at large, by multi-media means, and also through the DHC’s Website and Facebook.

When Covid-19 Restrictions abate in early 2021 hopefully, the DHC will launch this completed project to an invited group representing educationalists, professionals, public bodies and Government support agencies, to advertise the importance if this watershed Project. The Minute Books are now safe in acid free boxes and appropriate tissue for long term preservation. The Digitisation of the 272 Glass Plate Negatives is also a major achievement. These items are sensitive but are now equally safe and secure for viewing or researching. They are a fitting testament to the dedication of teachers in the schools for the deaf towards the end of the 1800s and the early 1900s. The resultant glass plate negatives opened up a whole new world for deaf pupils, and enhanced their education, by stimulating interest and discussion on a wide collection of coloured projected scenes and images.

One of the glass plate negatives