Edison Became Deaf By Thomas Alva Edison Essay

Edison Became Deaf By Thomas Alva Edison Essay

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On February 11, 1847, in a town called Milan in Ohio, Thomas Alva Edison was born hearing to parents Samuel Ogden Edison Junior and Nancy Elliott Edison. It was not until later that Edison became deaf. He was born the youngest of Samuel and Nancy’s seven children, although three weeks after his mother died in 1871, his father began a relationship with Mary Sharlow, who was the housekeeper, and they went on to have three daughters (National Park Service). Although born in Ohio, much of his childhood was spent in Port Huron, Michigan. Edison moved there when he was about seven years old. Due to illness, Edison was unable to attend school right away. Once he did begin school, his schoolmaster decided that he was slow and stupid so his mother took him out and began teaching him at home. Edison’s mother exposed him to advanced material that far surpassed other students of his age, and by the age of eleven, he had set up a laboratory in his parent’s basement (Rogers and Shaffer). If not for his mother believing in him and teaching him like she did Edison might not have been the man he was.


At age twelve, instead of continuing school, Edison took a job at a railroad selling food and newspapers to passengers on board a train. The train traveled from Port Huron to Detroit and on layovers he would read books. Eventually, Edison set up a laboratory on one of the train’s cars (Rogers and Shaffer). It is around this time that Edison became deaf. Edison’s writing suggests this is correct when he wrote, “I have not heard a bird sing since I was twelve years old” (National Park Service). There are a few different stories around as to how Edison became deaf. One story, told by Edison but suggested by experts to be false, is that he was abou...


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...d operated (1880) an experimental electric railroad, and produced a superior storage battery of iron and nickel with an alkaline electrolyte (The Columbia Encyclopedia). For the people of that time, life had been altered in a positive way. Deaf, hearing, hard of hearing, no matter the hearing status, this made a difference in their lives.





Edison embodied a strong work ethic and the can-do attitude that is imperative in Deaf culture today. Prior to his death at the age of 84, Edison took out over a thousand patents (The Hutchison Dictionary of Scientific Biography). There are numerous inventions by Edison that could be considered game-changers for society. Many of Edison’s ideas and inventions transformed everyday life for people regardless of hearing status. It could easily be argued that if not for Thomas Alva Edison, life would not be as we know it today.

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