This case study was created thanks to a researcher who was looking the records of education and schools for deaf children in NSW.
Various avenues of enquiry lead to a variety of different records. Some of the series include: The Colonial Secretary's Correspondence, Department of Education Subject files, School administrative files, and Acts of Parliament. Information gleaned from these records can help piece together a history of education for deaf people in NSW.
The School for Deaf and Blind Children
In 1860 Thomas Pattison, a deaf migrant to Australia from Scotland, established the school for Deaf and Blind Children in Sydney. The school was officially declared a public institution in 1861. Within a year it moved to Castlereagh Street and in 1868 moved to Ormonde House in South Head Road, Paddington. In 1872 it moved yet again to premises in Darlington where it remained for 70 years. These premises were purchased by Sydney University in 1961. In 1961 it moved to North Rocks where it is currently located.
Information on the beginnings of education for the deaf can be obtained from the Colonial Secretary's Correspondence as well as the item listing of NRS 3830 Subject files - Public Institutions. Information located within this series of records cover a range of subjects including statistical information, to correspondence relating to the school itself to correspondence directly relating to teachers and students.
A interesting find within the Colonial Secretary's Correspondence sheds some light on Thomas Pattison himself. A letter was written by Thomas Pattison to Henry Parkes in 1873 petitioning that he be granted a pension in consideration of services in founding the school for the deaf in Sydney in 1860 [1/2223, letter no. 73/5661]. Accompanying this letter is a printed booklet dated 1861 that contains written testimonials attesting to the character and experience of Thomas Pattison. This interesting booklet contains references from various individuals attesting to the character of Thomas Pattison, not dissimilar to written or phone references that are needed today when applying for an employment position.
Later information can be found in the series NRS 3830 Department of Education Subject Files in the catalogue.
Within this series a number of files were located relating to deaf education some being:
- 70/24635 The Forum for Deaf Education 22 Sep 1969-7 Nov 1972.
- 69/23867 Deaf representation by the Federation for junior deaf children 24 Oct 1968-9 Apr 1973.
- 67/21830 Demonstration lessons NorthRocksSchool for Deaf 8 May 1958-1 Sep 1970.
- 67/21546 Deaf and Blind provision North Rocks 6 Aug 1964-17 Mar 1975.
The school administrative file listed on the online Schools and related records index for the North Rocks School for the Deaf Post 1939 [14/7752] contains later information concerning the day-to-day running and operation of the school.
There are various records that can be used to shed light onto the topic of education for deaf people in NSW. This case study demonstrates how by using the resources on the website in conjunction with reading room resources it is possible to locate information relating to a specific topic.
This content was first published in Now&Then Issue 24 February 2007.