History People

Max A. Goldstein: Innovator in deaf education

photo fo max Goldstein in front of Central Institute for the Deaf

The Central Institute for the Deaf (CID) St. Louis has contributed to over 100 years of deaf education for children and patients. This is all thanks to an innovator in deaf education and renowned St. Louis ear, nose, and throat physician, Max A. Goldstein, MD.

Goldstein was a St. Louis native and Washington University alumnus. His passion for the ear, nose, and throat specialty led him to study abroad where he received an honorary medical degree from the University of Strassburg in 1894. Throughout the years, Goldstein realized his passion was identifying new methods for improving the education of congenitally deaf children with apparent remnants of hearing by concentrating on the stimulation of dormant auditory senses.

Soon after returning to the states, he sought out various avenues to educate others on innovative acoustic stimulation procedures. His desire to educate others led to the founding of the medical journal Laryngoscope. This international monthly publication focused on infections in the ear, nose, and throat. Goldstein would remain the primary editor of this journal until his death in 1941.

photo of Goldstein with students
Max Goldstein, MD, flanks by two young students in the early days of Central Institute for the Deaf.

In the early 1900s, Goldstein became the Professor of Otology of Beaumont Hospital Medical College, which soon merged with the Marion Sims College of Medicine and became St. Louis University. He became nationally known for his interest and research in deaf research and eventually crossed paths with author and educator Helen Keller. By 1901, he had published eight articles and presented his work on deaf education at several scientific meetings around the country. Goldstein’s experiences and education throughout the years led him to focus on convincing the world that congenitally deaf children could learn to listen and speak.

In 1914, Goldstein founded Central Institute for the Deaf (CID), where doctors and teachers worked together to serve people who are deaf or hard of hearing. CID quickly gained international acclaim and would have more than 300 enrolled students from the U.S. as well as several foreign countries by the time of his death. The institute’s auditory-oral methods for educating children were revolutionary.

Goldstein would also become a pioneer in developing educators of the deaf, with his first class of teachers graduating in 1915. That training program continued until CID and Washington University in St. Louis joined forces to establish the first undergraduate deaf education program in the country to collaborate with a university. This effort led to what we now know as the Program in Audiology and Communication Sciences at Washington University School of Medicine.

Today, CID at Washington University School of Medicine continues its distinctive combination of education, research, and clinical service to benefit children and adults who are deaf and hard of hearing. Goldstein’s efforts will live on through the continued success, growth, and innovation of his mission.