Increasing immigration in the late 1800s caused many Americans to fear ethnic, racial, and linguistic diversity. The patchwork of immigrant communities crowded into growing industrial cities threatened some Americans’ sense of national identity.

Calls for immigration restrictions, limits on the employment of foreigners, and the banning of languages other than English in schools were common.

In schools for deaf children, classes were increasingly taught without signing and oral training was stressed. Deaf adults and children were discouraged from using sign language in public.

female deaf child speaks on the drum with the female hearing teacher. Gallaudet University Archives

Male hearing teacher teaches five deaf younger students through microphone and hearing aids. New York School for the Deaf, White Plains