Milan 1880

Milan 1880 is an infamous historical mark of "slashing" sign language which led to the Dark Age of Deaf Education. At this biased, pre-planned conference, International Congress on Education of the Deaf in Milan, oralist proponents voted to ban sign language.

The work of art Milan, Italy 1880 by Mary J. Thornley is a visual metonym of the famous work The Executions of the Third of May 1808 (painted in 1814-1815) or the shorter title Third of May, 1808 by Francisco Goya (1746-1828), one of the great Spanish masters.

the third of may by goya
The Third of May by Goya.

The painting The Third of May 1808 depicts a tragic event about Napoleon's French soldiers vengefully slaughtering unarmed Spanish civilians when the Spaniards rebelled against their invasion in 1808.

milan 1880 by mary thornley
Milan, Italy 1880 by Mary Thornley. Photograph by Gallaudet University.

The work Milan, Italy 1880 was purchased by Gallaudet University, where it was unveiled on March 11 at the Gallaudet University Kellogg Conference Center in 1997. Mary J. Thornley is a Deaf American-born artist.


Nick Sturley of U.K. maintains a wonderful website on Milan 1880 at

Unveiling of Milan, Italy, 1880. (this link no longer exists).

Also see signoclasm: slashing hands for signing.


linguicism: a discrimination based on language.

You may also be be interested in Deaf history.

Laurent Clerc: America's first Deaf teacher.

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