By: Bryley Williams (07/03/17)
Laura Catherine Redden Searing was born in 1839 in Maryland. When she was eleven years old, she lost her hearing due to meningitis. In 1855, Redden enrolled in the Missouri School for the Deaf, where she continued her education and learned sign language. Searing’s first published essay was in the American Annals of the Deaf in 1858, about deafness, sign language, and writing. She graduated from MSD in 1858, but she was unable to go to college because she was deaf. She was offered a teaching position at MSD, but declined, and, instead, became the editor for the “St. Louis Presbyterian,” a religious paper. Searing also published poems and began to write for the “St. Louis Republican, ” where she began to use her pseudonym, Howard Glyndon.
During the Civil War, Searing went to Washington, D.C. as a war correspondent. She was very pro-Union and wrote poetry expressing her views. Searing published her first volume of poetry in 1862 called “The Idylls of War.” She also published her book, “Notable Men in the House of Representatives.” During the Civil War, Searing became friends with both Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant.
After the war, Searing went to Europe, where she studied languages and reported on the silkworm and orange trades of Europe to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. During this time, she became to write for other news outlets, including “The New York Times” and “The New York Sun.” She also fell in love with and got engaged to Michael Brennan, but, unfortunately, he died before they could get married. Searing would go onto marry Edward Searing in 1876 and have a daughter named Elsa, but the marriage didn’t last and, eventually, they got divorced.
Searing also spent a time learning lip reading and speech with Alexander Graham Bell. Though she never learned how to lip read, she did learn how to speak, and she became an advocate for the teaching of speech in schools in addition to sign language.
In her later years, Searing lived with her daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren in California. She passed away in 1923. Laura Redden Searing is an inspiration because she was not prevented from having a successful and fulfilling life and career by her deafness; in fact, she became a great advocate and writer about deafness and ASL in addition to other subjects. She even has a town named for her: Glyndon, Minnesota. Not many people can say that!