History Through Deaf Eyes – Trades and Training for Boys

Most schools offered courses in printing, shoemaking, and woodworking, baking, and tailoring for boys. Many graduates used the skills and trades they learned in school to enter these and other occupations. A few went on to college.

shoemaking and repair class

Shoemaking and shoe repair was one of the earliest trades taught to boys at schools for deaf children. Boys made and repaired shoes for fellow students, teachers, and sometimes local residents.

In addition to creating a marketable product, students learned how to use machines and tools. Some graduates opened their own shoe repair shops. Gallaudet University Archives, Number 13143-25

Clarke school for the deaf woodworking class

These students from the Clarke School for the Deaf in Massachusetts are learning to make a desk. CLARKE School for the Deaf/Center for Oral Education

Colored photograph of a leather shoe and wooden shoe calipers.

Kentucky School for the Deaf