by Raquel Allende-Herbert
(Victorville, CA USA)
My favorite deaf person from history could have been one of many. There were so many who had contributed to American Sign Language, to sports and to entertainment. I had to choose Laura Redden Searing to write about. I was drawn to her initially because she shares my mother’s birthday, 100 years prior; she died on mother-in-law’s birthday 10 years before mother’s birth. I was starting to see her information call out to me. Then, because she shared my sister’s name, I had to read more about her.
Laura Redden Searing was born hearing on February 9, 1839. She lost her hearing at the age of 11. It was not until she was 16 did she enroll in the Missouri School for the Deaf. She graduated in 1855 at the age of 20. A few years later, she missed her opportunity to go to college. The National Deaf Mute College opened in 1864 and did not accept women (as did many colleges at the time).
As Laura developed her professional career she was recognized for her poetry. She had tremendous skill with rhyme and rhythm. She became a columnist and editor. After some time she took the name of Howard Glyndon and wrote on politics. She wrote about the Civil War, human interests and corresponded to Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant. Let’s say she simply was a successful writer/communicator.
I admire the fact that, having lost her hearing at 11 years of age, she understood what she was missing. She had to have gone through a frightening life change at a crucial time in her life, puberty. For many, this kind of change would stop them in their tracks and stifle their dreams. She was skilled with rhythm and rhyme which, even for hearing, can be a challenge. If you asked me to write a poem, I’d be facing a blank screen for days! At the age of 35, she managed to charm and hook a lawyer for a husband. Not bad, dear Laura, not bad.
Please read more about Laura Redden Searing at Deaf People. com
and at Wikipedia