van Praagh, William

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VAN PRAAGH, WILLIAM (1845–1907), English educator. Born Wolf Saloman in Rotterdam, Van Praagh pioneered the lip-reading method for deaf-mutes in England. He received his training from D. Hirsch, director of the Rotterdam School for the Deaf and Dumb, who had introduced into Holland the German oral method of instructing the deaf and dumb. When Baroness Mayer de Rothschild established the Jews' Deaf and Dumb Home in London (1866), Van Praagh was appointed principal. His patience and kindness endeared him to his pupils, and his methods proved successful. In 1872 the Association for the Oral Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb, which the baroness had founded, established a college for training teachers in the oral method, and a nonsectarian school for the deaf and dumb. Van Praagh became director of the college and principal of the school. In 1894 he founded the Union of Pure Oral Teachers.

Van Praagh's publications include Plan for the Establishment of Day-Schools for the Deaf and Dumb (1871), Lessons for the Instruction of Deaf and Dumb Children in Speaking, Lip-Reading, Reading, and Writing (1884), and Lip-Reading for the Deaf (19006). Dame (Margaret) Peggy Van Praagh (1910–1990), the well-known ballerina and director of the Australian Ballet, was his granddaughter. She was knighted in 1970.


Cornhill Magazine (1868), 573–7; A. Farrar, Arnold on the Education of the Deaf (1901), 75, 79.

[Shnayer Z. Leiman]

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van Praagh, William

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