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Horace Mann School for the Deaf records

Identifier: 0420.047

Scope and Contents note

The Horace Mann School for the Deaf records range in date from 1847-1995, with the bulk of the dates ranging from 1870-1994. The records have been arranged into six series: Series I – Administrative; Series II – Sarah Fuller; Series III – Memorabilia; Series IV – Boston Educational Association for Deaf Children; Series V – Reference Files; Series VI – Photographs.


  • 1867-1995


Historical note

The Boston School for Deaf Mutes was founded in 1869 by the Boston School Committee as the first public day school for the deaf in the United States. It was renamed the Horace Mann School for the Deaf in 1877. Horace Mann was not directly involved in the school’s founding, but as Secretary of the Board of Education of Massachusetts, had traveled to Europe in 1843 to study educational systems where he observed the oral method of education for the deaf. At the time, education for the deaf in the United States was based on manualism, education through sign language, the manual alphabet or pantomime. Horace Mann advocated oralism, education through the articulation of language and lip-reading, in his 1843 Massachusetts Board of Education annual report. He was no longer alive when discussions about creating the school began in 1867, but his views directly influenced the Boston School Committee’s decision to found a public school for the deaf in which oralism would be taught. The Reverend Dexter S. King, a member of the Committee, was a particularly strong advocate for the school.

The Boston School Committee recruited a local teacher named Sarah Fuller to be the school’s principal, a position she held until her retirement in 1910. Alexander Graham Bell also figured prominently in the early years of the school, arriving in 1871 to instruct the school’s teachers in “Visible Speech,” an oral method for the deaf created by his father, Alexander Melville Bell.

Following Sarah Fuller, the school has been managed by principals Ella Celynda Jordan (1910-1919), Mabel E. Adams (1919-1935), Jennie M. Henderson (1935-1946), Nathan P. Harris (1946-1962), Eileen E. Connolly (1962-1972), Edith Rosenstein (1972-1973), Mary F. Deveney (1973-1978), Patrice DiNatale (1978-2004), and Jeremiah Ford (2004-present).

The school has occupied several buildings since its founding. From 1869 to 1875, classes were held in several different buildings in and around Pemberton Square. From 1875 to 1890, the school occupied a building on Warrenton Street, in the South End. In 1890, the school was moved to 178 Newbury Street, in the Back Bay neighborhood, and remained there until 1929. From 1929 to 1975, the school occupied a building in Roxbury, on Kearsarge Avenue. In 1975, the school moved to its current location in Allston, at 40 Armington Street.


11.0 Cubic feet (6 document cases, 1 record carton, 13 flat boxes and 1 volume)

Language of Materials