The Central Institute for the Deaf-Max A. Goldstein Historic Devices for Hearing Collection. | Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives
In 2002 Central Institute for the Deaf and Washington University Bernard Becker Medical Library collaborated to produce a digital exhibit that showcases hearing devices from the 19th and 20th centuries that were designed to be concealed or camouflaged within everyday items or worn on the person. Created for viewers of all ages and backgrounds – from the layperson to the scholar – this exhibit combines over 500 images of hearing devices, rare books, photographs, illustrations, advertising literature and patents to provide a unique glimpse into the evolution of hearing devices over the past two hundred years.
Deafness in Disguise was inspired by Max Goldstein’s handwritten notes in describing his intent for the collection, “. . . such a collection should serve a more dignified and useful purpose than simply that of an exhibit of the many curious forms and devices created to exemplify the ideas of inventors.”
The Image Gallery in Deafness in Disguise contains digital images of the bulk of the hearing device collection and includes all types of hearing devices, both mechanical and electronic, and can be searched via keyword or by type of device. A drop-down menu of device types is available for the user to select from.
Select mechanical and electronic hearing devices from the collection are the focus of Exploring Object VR which features interactive, three-dimensional “movies” of 20 hearing devices including zoom capability.
Koelkebeck, Marylou, Colleen Detjen and Donald Calvert. Historic Devices for Hearing: The CID-Goldstein Collection. St. Louis, Missouri: Central Institute for the Deaf, 1984.
Sarli, C.C., et. al. “19th-Century Camouflaged Mechanical Hearing Devices,” Otology and Neurotology, 2003 Jul; 24 (4): 691-8).
International Society for Historic Hearing Devices
In order to facilitate a greater understanding of hearing devices and to identify similar collections worldwide, the International Society for Historic Hearing Devices (ISHHD) was created in 1999. ISHHD is an informal consortium of organizations and private collectors with hearing device collections. The goals of the Society are to increase awareness of hearing devices, mechanical and electronic; to identify organizations and collectors with hearing device collections; and to share knowledge and resources related to hearing devices. To date, there are 23 members, worldwide, with Washington University Bernard Becker Medical Library acting as the host.
The hearing devices in the collection range from small hand-held trumpet type devices; long rubber conversation tubes that allow for the user to hold one end to their ear and the other end directly to the speaker’s mouth; large London-dome shaped devices; animal horns; acoustic fans; walking sticks; a leather and metal device manufactured to resemble a water canteen; telescopic devices that could be discreetly folded within a pocket; headpieces for women; beard receptacles for men; the first electronic hearing device model; devices that resemble radios or cameras; devices hidden within barrettes and eyeglasses; early cochlear implant models, and many more. There are very few duplicate devices with many representing the only known extant models in existence.