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Everyone here spoke sign language Hereditary deafness on martha's Vineyard. By Nora Ellen Groce. Cambridge MA Harvard University Press. 1985. x + 169 pp. figures tables two appendices bibliography notes. $17.50 (cloth); $8

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BOOK REVIEWS
tise to this project. The scholarly apparatus
reflects the impressive level of resolution
Darwin studies have attained. These letters
are edited with tenacious, ferretlike intensity. When Darwin writes Joseph Dalton
Hooker and requests the recipe for a n apple
compote we are given it in a footnote copied
from Emma Darwin’s recipe book.
The years covered in this volume were a
period during which Darwin first communicated his ideas on the transformation of species, began his work on barnacles (which was
to occupy him for eight years), and completed
his geology of the Beagle voyage. A very substantial portion of the correspondence consists of letters to and from J.D. Hooker. Most
of these letters are technical, and they complement the published notebooks as a source
of information on how Darwin’s thinking developed in the critical period between his
EVERYONE
HERESPOKE SIGN LANGUAGE:
HEREDITARY DEAFNESS ON MARTHA’SVINEYARD. BY Nora Ellen Chce. Cambridge,
MA: Harvard University Press. 1985. x +
169 PP., figures, tables, two appendices,
bibliography, notes. $17.50 (cloth); $8.95
(paper).
The island of Martha’s Vineyard, Off Cape
Cod, Massachusetts, was first settled by Europeans in 1644. They were English from
Massachusetts COlonY and largely originally
from the Weald of Kent. Jonathan Lambert
was born deaf and moved to the island in
1694. TWOof his children and numerous subsequent Vineyard islanders also had a recessively inherited form of congenital deafness.
From the U.S. census data Of 1830 to 1900,
Groce estimates that one in every 5,728
Americans was born deaf, but on the island
that figure was one in 155.
interviewed old residents and examined all available documents concerning the effect of their
high numbers on the lives of the deaf on
Martha’s Vineyard. Because there were deaf
members in virtually every family in the
western part of the island (except among the
native Americans there), everyone learned
sign language, and the deaf were fully integrated into every aspect of life-work, play,
politics, gossip. Groce concludes that under
these conditions deafness is not a handicap.
139
return from his voyages and completion of
the theory of evolution. By 1844, he had a
theory worked out in some detail, but it
would be another 12 years before he sat down
to write out what ultimately became the Origin. Historians of biology will find much of
interest in the volume, but physical anthropologists will be disappointed if they hope for
much on Darwin’s views on man. These will
have to wait for later volumes. For anyone
interested in Darwin or in the scientific world
of the midnineteenth century, the third volume of Darwin’s correspondence is a longawaited installment of a fascinating edition.
PAULLAWRENCEFARBER
Department of General Science
Oregon State University
Corvallis, Oregon
Although this book is not a formal study of
inbreeding effects on deafness, the data are
all presented. If I read them properly, there
were 3,680 residents of the island in 1850,
and from the 14 commonest surnames, the
inbreeding coefficient by isonymy was over
0.006. Groce’s will be the definitive book
about this problem because the last congenitally deaf islander died in 1952, and most of
Groce’s informants are now also deceased.
This book is a n outstanding contribution to
medical anthropology-a case study of the
mutual adaptations within a community that
maximized the contribution of affected individuals to the social life of the group. The
work will be of interest to the families of
those born deaf, to visitors and residents of
Madha’s Vineyard, and to family-history
buffs specializing in old New England genealogy; it will also inform and warm the
hearts of anyone with a concern for the physically impaired because it demonstrates a situation in which deafness was not a disability
nor a handicap.
GABRIEL
W. LASKER
Department of Anatomy and
Cell Biology
Wayne State University
Detroit, Michigan
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