Lydia Macomber’s Letters: Exploring the history, culture and lives of deaf people in 19th-century New England

Date: April 9, 2022
Time: 2:00 pm  to  3:00 pm

Presented by Professor Rebecca A.R. Edwards

This program will be offered via Zoom.

Click here to pre-register to attend.

“I am deprived of hearing and speech but remember that God has been merciful to me because he has provided a way for my education so that I can read, write and talk.” (Lydia Macomber, 1837).

A collection of letters written by Westport resident, Lydia Macomber, who was born deaf, opens an invaluable window into the lives of Deaf people in the maritime world of antebellum New England. She and her sister Olive Macomber attended the American School for the Deaf from 1832 to 1836.  She regularly visited members of the Quaker community on Nantucket including astronomer Maria Mitchell. Her letters also record her involvement in producing silk by raising silkworms.

Rebecca A.R. Edwards, Professor of History at the Rochester Institute of Technology, New York will introduce Deaf history, as seen in these letters, and to Lydia and her friends. Professor Edwards’ current research focuses on recovering the historical experiences of ordinary deaf people. Her research into American Deaf history has led to two books, Words Made Flesh: Nineteenth-Century Deaf Education and the Growth of Deaf Culture (2012) and Deaf Players in Major League Baseball: A History, 1883 to the Present (2020).

Lydia Macomber’s letters can be read at