Abraham Farrar, Transcripts Notebook

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 133 Eng MS 1526
  • Dates of Creation
      n.d. (prob. late 19th-early 20th century)
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
      English  and some French
  • Physical Description
      240 x 200 mm. 1 volume. 95 folios, paginated 1-146, 22 leaves unpaginated (2 preceding paginated section). Medium: paper Binding: roan, half roan Condition: spine damaged
  • Location
      Collection available at The John Rylands Library, Deansgate

Scope and Content

ContentsTranscripts of works on deaf education and related subjects made by Abraham Farrar. all the works represented are present in the Farrar Collection, but it is possible these notes were made before Farrar acquired personal copies of the works.

Frontispiece with list of contents

1-24 "Supplement to the Philosophical Transactions of July 1670 with some Reflexions on Dr John Wallis, his letter there inserted London, Henry Brome 1678" (UML copy Farrar deaf collection R172766 and R172871).

27-110 "A Defence of the Royal Society, and the Philosophical transactions, particularly those of July, 1670 in answer to the cavils of Dr William Holder. By John Wallis, DD, Professor of Geometry in Oxford and Fellow of the Royal society ; in a letter to the Right Honourable, William Lord Viscount Brouncker. London Thomas Moore 1678." UML copy Farrar deaf collection R172868

113-116 "Of the Origin and Progress of Language, by James Burnet, Lord Monboddo. 6 vols Edinburgh 1773" [note says copy has been obtained since the note was made" (UML copy Farrar deaf collection R172762.

119-146 "Des Signes de l'Art du Penser considérés dans leurs Rapport mutuels by J-M Gerando (Baron) 4 vols. Paris An VIII [1800]". Note says copy since obtained (UML copy Farrar deaf collection R172415).

Administrative / Biographical History

Abraham Farrar (1861-1944) was an important figure in deaf education in the late nineteenth century and early decades of the twentieth century. He was also a noted book collector, who developed an impressive personal library of works on deafness. Farrar's collection of books focussed on deaf education, the social, cultural and medical aspects of deafness and the philosophy of language (including sign languages). Farrar donated his library to the University of Manchester in 1928, and it now forms part of the Deaf printed collections of the Library's Special Collections.

Abraham Farrar was born in Headingley, then on the outskirts of Leeds, in 1861, the son of a wealthy gentleman. At the age of three, he caught scarlet fever, and became deaf. Farrar's education was quite unusual for deaf children of wealthy backgrounds; usually these children would be taught at small specialist private schools, but Farrar received personal tutoring from Thomas Arnold (1816-1897), a nonconformist minister, who had a long-standing interest in deaf education. Arnold was convinced that oral instruction ("oralism") was superior to the prevalent manual ("sign") systems, and he focussed his great energies on educating Farrar to demonstrate the superiority of oralism. From the age of seven until his late 'teens, Farrar lived with the Arnold family in Northampton and was given an intensive education in lip-reading and speech development. This was so successful that Farrar was presented to public audiences and in the press to demonstrate Arnold's superior teaching system.

Farrar's academic successes saw him achieve matriculation at the University of London, although he did not in fact read for a degree. He worked for a time in an architect's office and then for a solicitor. However, his personal wealth allowed him to lead the life of an independent scholar, and he returned to live with his parents in Yorkshire. Farrar continued to assist Arnold, helping produce an innovative manual for teachers of the deaf. He also started to build up a library on Deaf subjects. He was a frequent contributor to the press on Deaf matters, where he advocated oralist methods, and was an active supporter of the National Association of Teachers of the Deaf.

In 1912, Farrar married Evelyn Smith, and they lived in London and Chislehurst. Farrar was an avid collector of books on Deaf subjects, and he amassed a collection of over one thousand books. His collection included authors such as Jan Conraad Amman, his mentor, Thomas Arnold, Charles and Henry Baker, Alexander Graham Bell, Franz Hermann Czech, Daniel Defoe, Charles-Michel de l’Épée, Manuel Ramirez de Carrion, John Wallis and Paulo Zacchia, together with many early editions of classical authors who mentioned deafness in their works. After donating his collection to the University of Manchester in 1928, Farrar published a catalogue of this collection in 1932.

Access Information

Available for consultation by any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

Acquired as part of the Farrar Library by the University of Manchester Library in November 1928 (acc. 213894).

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the manuscript can be supplied for private research and study purposes only, depending on the condition of the manuscript.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the manuscript. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, The John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Related Material

The Library's Deaf Education collections include Farrar's Library as well as the larger Arnold Library. Collectively, these are probably the largest collections on surdo-mutism in the UK. See Abraham Farrar, An Annotated Catalogue of Books on the Education of the Deaf and Cognate Subjects (Stoke-on-Trent, 1932); Charles W. E. Leigh, Catalogue of the Library for Deaf Education (Manchester, 1932).


Branson, Jan and Miller, Don, Abraham Farrar (1861-1944): Donor of the Farrar collection of books on the education of the deaf and cognate subjects in the John Rylands University Library of Manchester, Deansgate. Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester. 80. 1998 173-196. This article has been used extensively for the creation of the biographical description of Farrar.