Perry Eaton Seely: Advocate for the Deaf and Deaf Education

This thesis focuses on Perry Eaton Seely’s life from 1886 to 1949 and offers a discussion of his impact on deaf education in California. The first part, the written portion, will cover his activism and his goal of opening a school for the deaf in Southern California. The second part, a documentary film, presents a biography of Seely’s life. Although Perry Seely was an important man in the deaf community, he is missing from the pages of history, deaf education, and disability studies. Seely’s life experiences, as well as his combined education in oral training and in sign language (known as manual training) during his youth, gave him a particular perspective on deafness and deaf education. Seely’s exposure to both the deaf and hearing worlds allowed him to establish the foundation necessary for the organization of the California School for the Deaf in Riverside. Furthermore, his early activism in the deaf community provided him with the indispensable connections with prominent members of the state legislature that bolstered his ability to get the necessary legislation passed. As a result, he was a key figure in California’s deaf education community: hence, it is necessary to include him in the pages of history and deaf education.