SOUTH CAROLINIANA LIBRARY
UNIVERSITY SOUTH CAROLINIANA SOCIETY
MANUSCRIPTS DIVISION 2002
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Lucy Williams McCaughrin Papers, 1873-1998
"Everyone knows what is being done for the crippled, the blind and the deaf child but little is being done for the hard of hearing child excepting what is being done by the deafened themselves with the cooperation of the otologists, vocational bureaus and the various welfare organizations." The concern expressed in this remark made by Lucy Williams McCaughrin (1877-1962) in a speech delivered at the annual meeting of the South Carolina Conference of Social Workers held in Columbia on 14 November 1935 defined the critical and unique life work of this unusual woman.
The career of the woman who has come to be considered one of the nation's most outstanding teachers of lip reading and a Southern pioneer in speech reading and the education of the hard of hearing is the principal focus of this collection of five linear feet of papers, 1873-1998. A native of Newberry, Lucy McCaughrin graduated in 1894 with a certificate in English from the College for Women in Columbia (the collection contains thirty-one valuable photographic portraits of college-related subjects from this period). Then, according to journalist-historian Sue Summer (in the Newberry Observer, 18 March 1998), she "purchased a kiln in 1897, and for 20 years painted exquisitely beautiful china." As a young woman she had begun to lose her hearing and to realize that "not even a hearing aid could prevent her from becoming 'a social outcast.'" Determined to learn lip reading, she traveled North to perfect the skill and by 1915 had graduated with a Normal Course certificate from the Müller Walle School of Speech Reading in Boston. In 1919 she received further teaching credentials from the Kinzie School of Speech Reading, Philadelphia, and then embarked on a teaching career which took her, variously, to Louisville, Cleveland, Charlotte, Augusta, and Savannah. In 1933 she settled in Columbia and, in her own McCaughrin School of Speech Reading, continued to teach the hard of hearing and to train teachers of both hearing-impaired adults and children. At various times she offered summer courses at Peabody, Winthrop, and USC.
Correspondence, pocket diaries, speeches, notebooks, contracts, minutes, student notes, teaching materials of all kinds, and miscellaneous printed items provide the record of her training in this work and of her subsequent service in these diverse schools and locations. The papers also give evidence of her close association with such national and local organizations as the American Hearing Society, the American Society for the Hard of Hearing, the American Federation of Organizations for the Hard of Hearing, and the Speech Reading Club of Philadelphia. In particular, they demonstrate her important leadership in the organization of the Columbia Society for the Hard of Hearing, which she served as director. They further provide documentation of her role in forming in 1940 the South Carolina Committee on Legislation for the Hard of Hearing Children, which she co-chaired with Dr. Walter J. Bristow and which succeeded in seeing established through the State Department of Education a program of lip reading and speech training in the public schools. In its 1948 progress report, the Committee on Hearing and Speech Defects Among Children-a unit of the Health Division of the Council for Social Planning of Columbia and Richland County-revealed that Miss Lucy McCaughrin had been scheduled to inaugurate the program of lip reading in the schools and that she "would give part time to the teaching of the white pupils and from her salary would pay a Negro teacher whom she was training to teach the Negro pupils under her supervision."
The correspondence is particularly valuable not only as a record of professional relationships, but also as evidence of the close personal ties which existed among a small group of women in the hearing-impaired teaching and leadership circles in the East and South. In this regard, the Lucy McCaughrin papers will serve as a valuable resource in the field of Women's History. In their letters to each other, these women-bound together by both their experience of a shared physical limitation and their struggle to provide systemic remedy for it-candidly share their feelings and pour out their affection and support for one another. Lucy's long-time associate, friend, and frequent correspondent Betty C. Wright, director of field service for the American Society for the Hard of Hearing, headquartered in Washington, wrote her on 6 March 1947-"With your wonderful understanding of people and of techniques to 'get through to the real person' you have accomplished miracles, I think. Unfortunately there are not many people with your patience and tact and understanding." In the same letter she stated-"I have had a letter from Bess Ferguson and she said she had talked to you about Mrs. Campbell's wanting to form an organization in Columbia for colored persons and that the Board of Directors of the Columbia Society would be glad to help in every way possible. I think that is the right attitude." Her friend Anna L. Staples, of Boston, said to her in a letter of 25 November 1955-"I would give anything to restore your hearing enough so that you could again use a hearing aid. I think, now, after my many years of silence, that any sound in the world would drive me frantic. I usually, in my dreams, am deaf, but last night, I could hear and an airplane almost drove me mad. I wondered in my dreams how I would ever stand it."
Another unit of correspondence with special significance is that of the family of James R. Garfield (1865-1950), second son of President James A. Garfield. Garfield, a Cleveland lawyer who was prominent in civic and political affairs and who had served as Secretary of the Interior in Theodore Roosevelt's cabinet, was actively interested in the American Hearing Society and the Cleveland Hearing and Speech Center. This unit includes a copy of Lucy McCaughrin's tribute to his wife, Helen Newell Garfield (d. 1930), founder of the Cleveland Association for the Hard of Hearing and an untiring worker on behalf of the hearing-impaired.. In 1923 Lucy and Helen Garfield had co-edited a book, The Mentor Practice Course in Speech Reading for Adults, a copy of which is included in the collection.
Other correspondents include J.S. Agnew, Walter J. Bristow, A.C. Flora, J. Rion McKissick, Calhoun Mays-and O.B. Mayer, Jr., who had been Lucy McCauphrin's physician.
The collection also contains a file of personal letters relating to the Hunt family, 1873-1924; as well as files, 1944-1946, on the Mary P. Wheeler Book and Garden Club of Columbia.
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