Hulda Hakala

(later Hipeli)

Hulda Hakala (1875–1933) acted as a travelling advocate of the Beneficiary Association of the Deaf and the Finnish Association of the Deaf especially in the Eastern Finland. She taught the Deaf to acknowledge their rights as full members of the society. Later she worked as a teacher of the Deaf in Käkisalmi parsonage and in Inkerinmaa.


Hulda Hakala was born in Orimattila, becoming Deaf at the age of nine years. She entered the Porvoo Deaf School in 1884, the same year with Olga Härkönen and Valter Stadius. After finishing the school she returned to her homestead in Orimattila. Hulda was deeply inspired by Elma Eklund who gave a sermon in Orimattila 1902, and she, too, wanted to teach and enlighten other Deaf.

Travelling advocate tours the country

Already in 1902, the 27 years old Hulda Hakala travelled independently to Helsinki and to central Finland and met a lot of Deaf on the way. In the summer 1904, the Beneficiary Association of the Deaf asked her to teach elderly Deaf in Kitee for a month. The job was insecure as the association’s grant was always given for a certain period of time only and there were no guarantees for continuation. In the next summer she got a grant to work in Sortavala.

In  1907–1910, Hulda Hakala toured Finland as a travelling advocate of the Finnish Association of the Deaf. Other two advocates were John Sundberg and Elis Wilkki, and together they formed the most important information source apart from the Deaf Magazine in the Deaf community.

In Inkerinmaa

While working in the Käkisalmi parsonage Hulda had met the teacher of Inkerinmaa Deaf school, Juho Hipeli, whom she married in 1912. She moved to Inkerinmaa and worked with her husband in the Lempaala Deaf School. Her efforts in benefit of the Deaf community continued also after her marriage. She organised presentation and enlightenment events for the elderly Deaf in Lempaala and in St. Petersburg and gave spiritual speeches in Deaf meetings.

The rise of Bolsheviks in the Russian Revolution, in 1917, was not an easy time for the religious Hulda Hipeli.

By her own words, often was Hulda Hipeli near to death in the hands of Communists. Once they made her stand in the middle of the floor and a communist held a rifle on her chest. The communist leader asked: “Are you white or red?” The death was not far away then. But Hulda answered calmly: ‘”I am just a deaf-and-dumb, I don’t understand about white or red.” The shooter, surprised, put down his rifle: “You may go for you are just a deaf-and-dumb.”
Kuuromykkäin Lehti (Magazine of the Deaf) nr 10/1933

Hulda Hipeli and her Deaf school could have continued their work even after the revolution if only had she agreed to give up teaching religion. However, the strongly religious Hulda could not agree  and so the school was closed and turned into a communist meeting room.