Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.). Department of Speech Correction and Audiology
Northwestern University’s Department of Audiology, in the School of Communication, had its origins in the Program in Education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, which had begun in June 1941. In 1942 a small faculty headed a budding program in speech correction. In 1946 Dr. Raymond Carhart (1912-1975) offered the school’s first course in audiology.
Although Dr. Carhart is sometimes credited with coining the term audiology, it was probably first used in 1939 by Stanley Nowak, a distributor of hearing aids. Calling it a word of great usefulness, Dr. Carhart noted “the University of Illinois has the distinction of having made the first academic appointment in Audiology, while Northwestern University is the first school to establish and maintain an educational program in Audiology”.
Immediately following the end of World War II, the Speech and Hearing Clinic received an impetus when the Veteran’s Administration appointed Northwestern University as “the first of several agencies in the nation for aiding in the speech rehabilitation of war veterans.” Among the staff members involved in veteran rehabilitation were Isaac Brackett, Harold Westlake, who joined the faculty in 1944, and Dr. Carhart, who in 1944 had worked with veterans at Deshon Army Hospital in Pennsylvania.
During the academic year of 1945-46, approximately 85 students took courses in hearing as part of their programs. A report on the Program in Education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing stated that “more than a dozen undergraduate students and as many graduate students specialized in audiology and (emerged) as qualified for professional positions in the field.” By then, eight students were well on their way to earning their PhDs with specialization in hearing, which the department offered as “evidence that Northwestern University is considered a leading center for education of specialists in audiology and hearing.”
In 1947 Dr. Carhart was promoted to professor of audiology with indefinite tenure. He was named Head of the Audiology Program in 1953 and held that position until his death in 1975. Dr. Lois Elliott (1931-1995) served as Head of the Program in Audiology and Hearing Sciences from 1976 until her death in 1995.
See also: Raymond Carhart Papers, Series 20/13; Lois Elliott Papers, Series 20/62; and, for additional historical background, Lynn Miller Rein’s Northwestern University School of Speech: a history (Northwestern University, 1981).