National Society for the Study and Correction of Speech Disorders

Scattered reports in the public domain establish ongoing American school speech correction activities very early in the 20th century. Speech correction teachers drew knowledge from medicine, phonetics, psychology and public speaking but their roots were in education. Children with speech defects had difficulty with spelling and saying their letters, which caused teachers to correct speech as they taught.   There are children in schools with genetically based speech, language and hearing problems presenting themselves to every generation of elementary teachers. Groups organized around the need to help them.

Early school surveys showed there were large number of speech-defective children who needed services:  


“Examples of the surveys conducted could well begin with Thorpe’s preliminary work in 1903 and that of Conradi in 1904, and would include Ferreri in 1911, list McDonald, Blanton, Brown, and Wallin in 1916, and conclude with what was by no means the last of these pioneer surveys, Stinchfield’s report on college students.”






School Programs


Some say 1910 was the year school speech language pathology started in the United States.   It is a good round number to work with. But there was already a much activity before 1910. For example:


“Speech correction in the public schools apparently began with a New York City class in 1908, the work being prompted by the increased sense of responsibility for the handicapped which had led to the earlier establishment of “ungraded classes…” Other cities soon followed the example if not the exact pattern of New York to establish the pattern of public school speech correction. Chicago in 1910, Boston in 1912, with Detroit, San Francisco, Grand Rapids, and eight cities in Wisconsin by 1916 were early on the list.”



historyofspeeche012803 mbphistoryofspeeche012803mbp_djvu.txt 


Jennie Hedrick gave a paper to the National Society for the Study and Correction of Speech Disorders in 1921 in Atlantic City and proclaimed the “speech correction movement” was “sweeping the nation” like a “huge wave,” and that speech correction teachers could learn from association with the medical field.





By 1930 there were school leaders in the field of speech correction engaged in scholarship.   At a symposium on stuttering in Chicago the following presentations were made:


“Basis for Work with Stutterers in Grand Rapids Public Schools.” Miss Eudora P. Estabrook, Grand Rapids, Michigan. 


“Methods Used in the Treatment of the Stuttering Child in the Public Schools of Omaha (Nebraska).” Miss Alice Liljegren, Omaha. 


“The Treatment for Stuttering in the Public Schools of Wisconsin.” Miss Lavilla A. Ward, Madison, Wiscons 




From the beginning of the speech correction movement  “…groups with special interests in speech correction were formed within the National Education Association.” The National Education Association (NEA) was established in 1857.


(Lubinski, R., Golper, L. A. C. & Frattali (2007). Professional issues in speech-language pathology and audiology, United Kindom: Cengage Learning. Accessed online July 2011: // 



The Metro in Paris


Speech correction teachers  joined The National Society for the Study and Correction of Speech Disorders in 1918, approximately. This signalled movement away from NEA though college preparation remained in education. 


(http://depts.washington. edu/lend/seminars/modules/pdfs/splprint.pdf)


Walter Babcock Swift was a founder and president of the Society. “He was widely known as an advisor to public school programs throughout the United States providing suggestions for how to set up speech therapy services.”    


(J. Duchan,


Smith published, Speech Defects in School Children and How To Treat Them. Boston, NY and Chicago Houghton Mifflin Co. 1918 (wiki)


Until 1931,The National Society for the Study and Correction of Speech Disorders had some success but lacked organizational patterns, strong academic ties, and a mission suitable for school speech correction. 


(C. Van Riper, ASHA Magazine, November 1981; Volume 23:11, pp. 855-858)


At a meeting of the American Academy of Speech Correction in 1930 Pauline Camp proposed an alliance with Academy.   This effectively ended the 

The National Society for the Study and Correction of Speech Disorders about 1931. The Academy offered the resources of an established academic network.


(C. Van Riper, ASHA Magazine, November 1981; Volume 23:11, pp. 855-858).




From 1905 to 1930 American school correction teachers provided services to speech-impaired children. Services spread from state to state. Speech correction teachers were organized through the National Education Association, college education departments, state agencies and local school districts. Speech correctionists laid the foundation for modern school practice, developing the “pull-out” model for the treatment of articulation, stuttering, voice and hearing problems. They laid the foundation for modern articulation therapy, and worked on stuttering methods for children. Their alliance with professors and reseachers in the American Academy of Speech Correction provided Academy members with concrete speech correction models, strategies and techniques to use in the design of later certificate programs. Academy members were heavily  invested in stuttering methods for adults rather broad educational approaches for children. Speech correction grew in public education at a fast rate so as to demonstrate varied practices in professional settings. Demonstrated programs of clinical supervision were transfered to college clinics. Growth in speech correction provided the engine of development in the speech therapy branch of the profession, thereby giving structure to medical model concepts which were abstract and ill-defined. Growth in numbers provided the financial resources for the academic departments and professional organizations. Without the contributions of school speech-language pathology, the field would be a skeleton of its current self.


Varied sources cite the beginnings of American speech pathology as orginating in the year 1925, when a tiny number of speech professors started the Academy over dinner. In fact, the profession was already established in schools in content and organization at that time. A preference for the later date of 1925 denies the contributions of educational speech pathologists to the field.

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