Deaf Colonists in Victorian-Era Canada | JSTOR Daily

In 1884, educator Jane Groom defied naysayers to found a community for working-class Deaf people on prairies of Manitoba.

In Victorian England, Deaf people were often stigmatized as childlike and incapable of basic activities like working a job or raising children. For Jane Groom, a middle-class Deaf woman, this was clearly incorrect, not just in regard to herself, but for other Deaf people as well. So, as historian Esmé Cleall writes, Groom created a plan to send Deaf colonists to Canada, where they could work together, away from the pressures of the cities, to show just how capable they were.

Groom was born in 1839, when deafness was a highly stigmatized condition. She attended and later taught at educational institutions for the Deaf. Her career allowed her to network with hearing philanthropists interested in helping the Deaf while also being part of growing Deaf communities that took shape at schools, boarding houses, and missions.

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