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TIMELINE


SCROLL DOWN

TIMELINE


Pre 1788

Before white settlement

The beginning of white settlement is not the beginning of deaf history in Australia. 

Deaf people are present in every culture and society, including indigenous Australian nations. Many Australian Aboriginal groups have had well-developed sign systems. These sign systems are used in situations where speaking is forbidden or difficult – such as mourning periods, hunting, or communication between different language groups. They may have also been used with Aboriginal deaf people. 

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1790s


Deaf people in Colonial NSW

1790s


Deaf people in Colonial NSW

Elizabeth (Betty) Steel

The emergence of deaf people in Colonial NSW began with convicts. 

Elizabeth (Betty) Steel

Betty Steel arrived on the Second Fleet as a convict in 1790. 
She is the first recorded European-born deaf person to arrive in Australia.

 

Image courtesy of the Sydney Town Hall Collection

Image courtesy of the Sydney Town Hall Collection

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1792


Native-born deaf people

1792


Native-born deaf people

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1819


Deaf Convicts

1819


Deaf Convicts

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1825


Free Settlers

1825


Free Settlers

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1840-1860


Beginnings of Deaf Education

1840-1860


Beginnings of Deaf Education

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1860


First School for Deaf Children

1860


First School for Deaf Children

Thomas Pattison

Thomas Pattison, a deaf Scot, arrived in 1858 and began teaching deaf children at his residence at 152 Liverpool St in Sydney on 22nd October 1860. He started with 11 deaf pupils. 

First deaf religious service

On 25th October 1860 Thomas Pattison also arranged a religious service for deaf people at his house.

Sydney Morning Herald, 15th October 1860

Sydney Morning Herald, 15th October 1860

Thomas Pattison a deaf Scot Photo courtesy of the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children.

Thomas Pattison a deaf Scot

Photo courtesy of the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children.

368 Castlereagh Street, the first Home of NSW Institution for the Deaf and Dumb.  Photo courtesy of the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children.

368 Castlereagh Street, the first Home of NSW Institution for the Deaf and Dumb

Photo courtesy of the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children.

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1862


A growing community 

1862


A growing community 

The numbers of deaf children steadily increased, leading to the beginnings of a Deaf community in NSW.

A report in 1862 showed that there were over 50 deaf children in Sydney alone, and numbers grew in the second half of the nineteenth Century. 

Thomas Pattison’s school became the NSW Institution for the Deaf and Dumb and the Blind. This period saw the rise of leaders in the community such as Fletcher Booth, and allies of the Community such as Samuel Watson, the Superintendent of the Institution. A national Deaf Community began to develop through interstate contacts and travel.

The Empire, 10th December 1860

The Empire, 10th December 1860

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Late 1800s


Aboriginal deaf people

Late 1800s


Aboriginal deaf people

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1874


Evening classes for Deaf adults

1874


Evening classes for Deaf adults

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1875


Catholic Institution for the Deaf and Dumb

1875


Catholic Institution for the Deaf and Dumb

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1893


The Deaf Community Grows

1893


The Deaf Community Grows

The First Club for Deaf Adults is Formed

The Deaf and Dumb Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Society was formed, with Fletcher Booth as the founding member and its Missioner

 

Image courtesy of State Library of NSW, Picture Collection ML2474

Image courtesy of State Library of NSW, Picture Collection ML2474

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deaf people gathered regularly in the school rooms of the original St Stephen’s Church in Rose Street Newtown between 1893 and 1902.

 

Fletcher Booth

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Map of Newtown-Darlington

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1895


Earliest Interstate Cricket Carnival

1895


Earliest Interstate Cricket Carnival

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1901


Adult Deaf Mute Association formed

1901


Adult Deaf Mute Association formed

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1902


A place to call home

1902


A place to call home

A place to call home

In June 1902 the Adult Deaf Institute was opened on the grounds of the NSW Institution for the Deaf, Dumb and the Blind, and Fletcher Booth was appointed as its Missioner. His wife Laura was also very active in Deaf Community organisations

The Adult Deaf Mute Association was responsible for managing the Adult Deaf Institute.

 

Fletcher Booth's wife Laura is still remembered as a tireless worker.

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1906


Deaf community publications

1906


Deaf community publications

The iconic deaf community publication

'The Silent Messenger' was first distributed in 1906.
It was then renamed “The NSW Deaf Journal” from 1909, but lapsed after 1912.
It was resurrected as “The Silent Messenger” once again from 1929.

 

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1910


Growing tensions

1910


Growing tensions

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1913


Establishment of the Deaf Society

1913


Establishment of the Deaf Society

IMAGES ABOVE FROM LEFT THE RIGHT

1. Sydney Town Hall interior

2. Extract from minutes of first meeting Image in 2012 Annual Report

3. Lord Mayor Arthur Cocks Image courtesy of City of Sydney Archives

4. Photo of First President, Mr David R Hall MLC, Minister for Justice  

5. Picnic at Clifton Gardens, Sydney Harbour on 14 October 1913

 
The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 October 1913, p. 10.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 October 1913, p. 10.

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1914


Protestant Hall, Castlereagh St

1914


Protestant Hall, Castlereagh St

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1917


Daking House

1917


Daking House

City of Sydney - Deaf Locations

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1922


St Gabriel’s School for Deaf Boys

1922


St Gabriel’s School for Deaf Boys

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1927


Elizabeth House

1927


Elizabeth House

Images of Elizabeth House

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1928


Professional staff

1928


Professional staff

Deaf group at Balmoral Beach 1920s

From left to right Back Row: Dot Loader, Valerie Hole, Gladys Barron, Laura Booth, Marion Hersee, Isabella Winn, Ivy Lansdown, Dora Rider and Ivy Sacker Front Row: Alfred Power, Norman McNiven, Ernest Quinnell, Fletcher Booth, Herbert Hersee, Stanley Winn, Arthur O’Callaghan, Albert Hole and Frank Sacker  

From left to right

Back Row: Dot Loader, Valerie Hole, Gladys Barron, Laura Booth, Marion Hersee, Isabella Winn, Ivy Lansdown, Dora Rider and Ivy Sacker

Front Row: Alfred Power, Norman McNiven, Ernest Quinnell, Fletcher Booth, Herbert Hersee, Stanley Winn, Arthur O’Callaghan, Albert Hole and Frank Sacker

 

The Deaf Society moved to Elizabeth House in 1928

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1929


Turbulent Times

1929


Turbulent Times

The Breakaway

The turbulent years of the Great Depression were also revolutionary times in the Deaf Community of NSW. This was obvious when there was a breakaway organisation from the Deaf Society. 

 

In 1929, many deaf people were feeling increasingly dissatisfied with the paternalistic attitudes of the hearing leadership of the Deaf Society. This led to the formation of a breakaway organisation - the NSW Association of Deaf and Dumb Citizens. The Association’s periodical,
'The Deaf Advocate', was edited by Fletcher Booth and Ernest Quinnell and published the writings of radical deaf people from other Australian states as well.

The story of the breakaway is a complex one of power struggles against a background of social unrest. 

 

 

 
                 Sydney Morning Herald, 9 May 1929, p. 11

                 Sydney Morning Herald, 9 May 1929, p. 11

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1930


The new organisation grows

1930


The new organisation grows

The breakaway Association began publishing its own magazine,
'The Deaf Advocate'.

 

…by the Deaf & Dumb for the Deaf & Dumb
— The Deaf Advocate

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'The Deaf Advocate' Editor Fletcher Booth

'The Deaf Advocate' Editor
Fletcher Booth

'The Deaf Advocate' Editor Ernest Quinnell

'The Deaf Advocate' Editor
Ernest Quinnell

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1934


The Charitable Collections Act

1934


The Charitable Collections Act

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1936


Blackall House

1936


Blackall House

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1937


The merger

1937


The merger

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1939


The outbreak of World War II 

1939


The outbreak of World War II 

The outbreak of World War II affected the Deaf Community in many ways. 

The present war has transformed the position with regard to employment of the deaf.
— Annual Report, 1941-42

Deaf men were disqualified from active service in the army, but they took on many of the jobs at home which were previously held by hearing men. Deaf women also had broader employment opportunities. The Manpower program placed them in jobs to support the war effort, such as ammunition factories. The social and sporting activities of the Deaf community were restricted during wartime (as they were for everyone else), but this difficult period gave many deaf people opportunities for work and greater independence.

Annual Report, 1941-42, p. 4.

Annual Report, 1941-42, p. 4.


Annual Report, 1941-42, p. 5.

Annual Report, 1941-42, p. 5.

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1942


The Younger Set

1942


The Younger Set

Sport in the 1940s

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1949


Gordon-Davis House

1949


Gordon-Davis House

Gordon-Davis House

'Gordon-Davis House’  was opened at Stanmore to provide housing for deaf people. It was a popular hostel for deaf people, both young and old.

 

 
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1951


Alfred Lonsdale House

1951


Alfred Lonsdale House

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1953


Social gathering in the 1950s

1953


Social gathering in the 1950s

Holiday house in Newcastle

James Laskie Holiday Home at Belmont near Newcastle was built by the Society to provide a holiday house for deaf people, and opened in early 1953. It was very popular with deaf people until it was sold in 1958.

 

James Laskie Holiday Home 

James Laskie Holiday Home 


Deaf General Committee

The Society’s Board helped to re-establish the Deaf General Committee. 

The Deaf General Committee had begun as the ‘Deaf Mute Committee’  in 1916, and changed its name to the  ‘General  Committee’ (1924) and then the ‘Deaf General Committee’ (1928). The Deaf General Committee was dissolved in 1938, re-formed in 1945, then lapsed in 1948 for several years until resurrected in 1953. It ran for another 31 years until 1986. 

 

        The Silent Messenger, 1955    

        The Silent Messenger, 1955

 

 


Social life: A Deaf Community picnic event in the 1950s

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1954


Dey House

1954


Dey House

Dey House was built next to Gordon-Davis House at Stanmore,
to provide further accommodation for deaf people.

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1959


Entertainment

1959


Entertainment

The Oral Division

The Oral Division within the Society was formed to support the increasing number of deaf people who were educated in an oral environment.

It ran parallel to the Deaf General Committee for many years and even had its own section in the Silent Messenger.

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1964


The first Australian Deaf Games held in Sydney

1964


The first Australian Deaf Games held in Sydney

Sports had always been central in the life of the Deaf Community in NSW

The Australian Deaf community had been holding interstate sports Carnivals since the early 20th Century.

The event was re-named  the ‘Australian Deaf Games’ in the early 1960s and the first one was held in Sydney. 


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1965


International Games for the Deaf, Washington, DC

1965


International Games for the Deaf, Washington, DC

Australia was represented at the International Games for the Deaf (now known as the Deaflympics) for the first time.

Two NSW competitors won medals – Barry Knapman won a gold medal for diving, and Jeff Went won a silver medal for swimming.

 

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1966


Wollongong branch

1966


Wollongong branch

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1970


Elizabeth House sold