Alcorn Homestead

Historical Marker #2135 in Lincoln County marks the home of noted teacher Sophia Alcorn, who worked extensively with hearing and vision impaired students during the early twentieth century.

Born in Stanford in Lincoln County on August 3, 1883, Alcorn was the youngest of seven children. As an adult, she graduated from Ward Seminary which is now Belmont College in Nashville, Tennessee, and earned her master's degree from Wayne University in Detroit. Alcorn received training in teaching the deaf at Clark School in Northampton, Massachusetts, and later served as a principal of the deaf school system at Wayne University.

Devoting her life to teaching blind and deaf students, Alcorn worked at a number of schools. She taught at North Carolina School for the Deaf (1908-1909); Kentucky School for the Deaf in Danville (1909-1920); South Dakota School for the Deaf (1920); Day School in Des Moines, Iowa (1924-1925); Oral School in Cincinnati (1927-1929); New Jersey School for the Deaf (1930); and the Detroit School for the Deaf (1930-1953). After retiring from teaching, Alcorn worked with the American Foundation for the Blind.

The Tadoma Method, named for Tad Chapman and Oma Simpson, was created by Alcorn in the 1920s at the Perkins School for the Blind in Massachusetts. Chapman and Simpson were the first two students taught this method by Alcorn. Tadoma was designed to allow deaf-blind people to learn to speak. This method works by placing the deaf-blind individual's hand on the face of the speaker with the thumb lightly placed on the speaker’s lips and the fingers spread on the cheek and upper neck; this allows the lip movement, air in the cheeks, and the vibration of the vocal chords to be felt on the hand. The Tadoma Method, used most actively between 1930 and 1960, was intended to teach students to both receive and produce speech.

Alcorn died on November 28, 1967, in Stanford and was buried there in the Buffalo Springs Cemetery.

Images

Jacobs Hall

Jacobs Hall

East View of Jacobs Hall, Kentucky School for the Deaf in Danville, Kentucky. Alcorn taught here for eleven years, and it is now a museum on the campus. Courtesy of the Library of Congress. View File Details Page

Kentucky School for the Deaf

Kentucky School for the Deaf

This postcard photograph shows the Kentucky School for the Deaf. Courtesy of the University of Kentucky. View File Details Page

Kentucky School for the Deaf

Kentucky School for the Deaf

This early-twentieth century postcard shows a number of buildings at the Kentucky School for the Deaf from the time period Alcorn taught there. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society. View File Details Page

Students

Students

Special schools for vision and hearing impaired children like this one in Oklahoma became more common during the Progressive Era. Courtesy of the Library of Congress. View File Details Page

Instruction

Instruction

This photograph appears to show a teacher using elements of the Tadoma Method to teach a hearing impaired child to talk. Courtesy of the Library of Congress. View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Ashlee Chilton, “Alcorn Homestead ,” ExploreKYHistory, accessed May 29, 2017, http://explorekyhistory.ky.gov/items/show/560.

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