Deaf History Spotlight: Laura Redden Searing

Laura Redden Searing, via Wikipedia

Laura Redden Searing: Deaf Poet and Journalist!

Searing became deaf after a bout with spinal meningitis at the age of eleven in 1851. She was lucky to have supportive parents who learned Sign Language along with their daughter, and she eventually attended the Missouri School for the Deaf in Fulton. In 1857 Searing began submitting poetry to Harper’s Magazine, and soon began to write essays and sending them to various publishers. One year later one of her essays appeared in the American Annals for the Deaf, focusing on sign language and deafness.

In 1859 she was hired as an assistant editor and columnist at the St. Louis Presbyterian, and became an editorialst for the St. Louis Republican a year later. She covered key events during the Civil War, even writing to Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant! She eventually worked for the New York Times as a correspondent, and then as a staff writer for the New York Evening Mail.

Due to the standards at the time, Searing did not go on to attend college. She was unmarried (a big no-no at the time), and colleges weren’t even accepting deaf women until 1881! Instead she traveled Europe and studied a variety of languages including Spanish, Italian, French, and German and eventually met the man who would become her husband- Edward Whelan Searing.