Argillander as a trailblazer

Abraham Argillander – Finland’s first teacher of the deaf

While the first schools for deaf people were being founded elsewhere in Europe, a Finnish saltpetre factory inspector Abraham Argillander taught his deaf brother-in-law, Wolfgang Helsingius. Helsingius had lost his hearing at the age of one and, as was customary at the time, efforts were made to treat him with electricity and mineral water treatments, to no avail.

At least to some extent, Argillander had made use of the scraps of information on the work of European teachers of the deaf and as a result of tuition, Helsingius learned to pronounce words and write words and entire sentences. Argillander wrote a short report on his teaching experiences, Försökt sätt at lära dumbar läsa och tala (A tested method of teaching the dumb to read and speak), which he sent to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1762. The academy printed the study as part of physician Nils Rosén von Rosenstein’s manual on paediatric medicine in 1771.