Deaf History Tidbit


New Member
Apologies if this has been mentioned before. I searched the threads and didn't see anything.

I was researching something else completely different, and came across this reference:
An Enduring Gift: The Story of David Maydole Matteson (1871–1949)

David Maydole Matteson had completed his bachelor's degree at Harvard and was working on both his master's and his doctorate, when he had a bike accident and lost his hearing. He was still able to finish his master's, but not his doctorate. The article says that's because he could not attend his doctoral classes, not sure about how or why he could finish the Masters' degree after being deafened, but not the doctorate. Anyway, he:

spent many years of his long life serving the historical community in the Harvard library and the Library of Congress, indexing works on many different subjects. Besides adding numerous indexes to the stacks, Matteson propelled a profession that was often overlooked to a place of scholarly importance in the library and historical communities. His major work, a labor of love, was an index of the 37 volumes of the Writings of George Washington for the American Historical Association. He quietly worked on this project for many years, but passed away before he could finish the index. To supplement his low income as an indexer (a profession not noted for its remuneration), he took up a career of ghostwriting secondary school history books. This turned out to be a profitable career, however, and he was able to accumulate a small fortune.

In the end, David Matteson proved not only to be a diligent indexer who elevated the profession and contributed to the historical profession; he turned out also to be one of the great, unsung patrons of history, for he bequeathed his entire fortune of more than $80,000 to the AHA, to be used for creating the David Maydole Matteson Fund to continue to support tools for researching and publishing of history. This fund was used for the first seven years to finish Matteson’s 37-volume index, and since then it has been used as part of the endowment fund of the AHA. This is a gift that continues to support the work of the AHA and thus of all historians.


not sure about how or why he could finish the Masters' degree after being deafened, but not the doctorate.

FYI: In PhD programs, it is commonplace for a Master's to be handed out as a consolation prize if one cannot complete their doctorate for some reason, but had completed significant work towards it.