19. The History of School Speech Pathology

Early School Speech-Language 

Speech correction teachers circa 1910 were associated with education — not medicine, psychology or speech.

In 1937 Dorothy M. Davis of the University of Iowa writing in the The Elementary School Journal  cited Dr. Rogers’ book indicating the first speech correction program was established in 1910. His survey indicated in 1910 “eighty American school systems were employing special teachers qualified to deal with this problem.” ( http://www.jstor.org/pss/997202)

The University of Florida’s clinic handbook covering the history of the profession documents the following:

“Public schools were the first organized service providers 

 1. 1910 – Chicago public schools hired 10 Speech Correction teachers 

 2. 1910 – Detroit hired 2 Speech Correction teachers 

 3. 1913 – Boston hired Speech Correction teachers 

 4. 1916 – New York and San Francisco followed suit 

 5. 1916-1918 – Wisconsin cities offered speech correction in their schools”


The first school correction program may have also been in the Detroit Pubic Schools by way of organizational luck because of close ties with Wayne State University:

“In 1881, the Detroit Normal Training School was established, now the College of Education. Old Main Hall was built-in 1896 as Central High School, which later began adding college classes in 1913. Those classes evolved into the Detroit Junior College in 1917″… “In 1919, David L. Mackenzie – who served a dual role as Principal of Detroit Central High School and Detroit Junior College.” Mackenzie was a teacher with an Master’s degree (Wiki).

“A History of the Detroit Speech Correction Department” by Elsie Ryan is listed at Amazon books.


“ASHA’s rich history began in 1925 at an informal meeting of the National Association of Teachers of Speech (NATS) in Iowa City, IA. NATS was an organization made up of people working in the areas of rhetoric, debate and theater. Its members were becoming increasingly interested in speech correction and wanted to establish an organization to promote “scientific, organized work in the field of speech correction.” Accordingly, in December of that year, the American Academy of Speech Correction-ASHA’s original predecessor-was born.” http://www.asha.org/about/history.htm

1930 Reality Testing

Referring to an article by Charles Van Riper, we posted:

“The American Academy of Speech Correction established in 1925 was composed of high-minded academics and theoreticians but the profession was not thriving. At the 1930 convention, there was debate over how to advance the profession. Pauline Camp, a state supervisor of speech correction in Wisconsin, appealed to the Academy to train speech correctionists.   “If we can put a speech correctionist in almost every school system, and certainly there is sufficient need for one, then many of our survival problems will vanish and our growth will be amazing.”

Van Riper reports some support for the idea in-spite of opposition:

“We would build a profession independent of medicine or psychology or speech, based in the colleges and public schools. The first priority should be to establish and staff speech clinics in the colleges that could be used to do the basic research and to train personnel who would offer the services.” 

(ASHA Magazine, November 1981 Volume 23:11, pp. 855-858; reprinted http://www.mnsu.eduComment

Van Riper was there to document indirectly what was already known.

In 1930 school speech correction was flourishing and clinical speech therapy was not. Founders were hungry for growth and a programmatic basis for their clinical approach. Accordingly, school correction had to be eased out of colleges of education and into speech departments. A minimal relationship was maintained with education for credentialing advantages. Leaders of the Academy of Speech Correction would establish themselves as the trainers of school speech correction teachers.  In 1934 they changed the name to The American Speech Correction Association.  

“Brother Can You Spare a Dime” Bing Crosby

“Brother, Can You Spare a Dime,” lyrics by Yip Harburg, music by Jay Gorney (1931)

 “They used to tell me I was building a dream, and so I followed the mob,When there was earth to plow, or guns to bear, I was always there right on the job. They used to tell me I was building a dream, with peace and glory ahead,Why should I be standing in line, just waiting for bread?

Once I built a railroad, I made it run, made it race against time. Once I built a railroad; now it’s done. Brother, can you spare a dime?Once I built a tower, up to the sun, brick, and rivet, and lime;Once I built a tower, now it’s done. Brother, can you spare a dime?”

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