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Carhart, Raymond, 1912-1975



  • Existence: 1912-1975


Raymond Thomas Carhart was born on March 28, 1912, in Mexico City, son of Raymond Albert and Edith (Noble) Carhart. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech and Psychology from Dakota Wesleyan University in 1932, and the Master of Arts (1934) and Doctor of Philosophy (1936) degrees in Speech Pathology, Experimental Phonetics and Psychology at Northwestern University.

Carhart remained at Northwestern with the title of Instructor in Speech Re-education from 1936 to 1940. In 1940 he was promoted to Assistant Professor and in 1943 to Associate Professor. The following year he joined the Medical Administrative Corps, U. S. Army, as a captain. Carhart served as Director of the Acoustic Clinic and as Acoustic Physicist at the Deshon General Hospital in Butler, Pennsylvania until 1946. He then returned to Northwestern where he became Professor of Audiology in 1947, a position he held until his sudden death on October 2, 1975. In 1948 Carhart was appointed Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology at the Medical School in recognition of his work on the Chicago Campus; he was made a full Professor in 1952.

Several administrative positions were also assigned to Carhart. From 1942 to 1947 he was Director of Education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. In the latter year he was appointed Director of Hearing Clinics; he was also in charge of the Auditory Research Laboratories. He held the post of Head of the Audiology Program from 1953 until shortly before his death.

Carhart combined in a remarkable degree the roles of teacher and researcher. As a teacher he was lucid and enthusiastic with all levels of students, treating each as an individual but expecting substantial efforts on their parts. He guided 45 doctoral candidates and post-doctoral students to the completion of their work, and many of these moved into the upper echelons of their fields. His students' feelings toward him were well summed up on the plaque of the portrait they commissioned for the Frances Searle Building. This states simply, “Raymond Carhart, Teacher, Scholar, and Friend. From his students.”

As a researcher Carhart was honored by the grant of a Research Career Award beginning in September 1963 by the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Blindness. He was called on many times to evaluate research projects in educational, commercial, and governmental institutions and programs. His recommendations on individuals were widely sought. It was in audiology that Carhart made his major contribution. He popularized the word itself (although he did not coin it), and established the first academic program in audiology in the United States. He did much to give the word and the field truly scientific significance. He developed and refined speech audiometry and used this tool effectively in evaluating the efficiency of hearing aids in a great variety of individuals. The techniques of interpreting the pure-tone audiogram remain as one of his outstanding contributions. Carhart did his early work in the acoustics of the vocal tract. He then moved on to various problems in psychoacoustics such as masking, binaural fusion and lateralization, and both threshold and supra-threshold power integration. He achieved lasting eponymic fame at the First International Congress of Audiology held in Stockholm in 1950. Here he described an important, previously unsuspected, shift in bone-conducted hearing (produced by otosclerosis) that disappeared after successful stapes surgery. This condition is still known as the “Carhart Notch”.

Many organizations and governmental groups benefited from Carhart's advice and service. He served as President of the American Speech and Hearing Association at a trying time in its organizational life and was a Fellow of the Association for many years. This Fellowship, along with one in the Acoustical Society of America and an Associate Fellowship in the American Laryngological, Rhinological, and Otological Society, were among his most cherished scientific honors. He was also a member of the Otosclerosis Study Group, the American Otological Society, and the International Society of Audiology among others. Carhart served as a consultant to the U. S. Army (1946-1952). He was a member of the National Research Council's Committee on Hearing (1948-1952) as a consultant to the Committee on Conservation of Hearing, American Academy of Ophthalmology and otolaryngology (1944-65); and a consultant in audiology to the Veterans Administration (1955-61). This last position involved him in a vigorous controversy over the evaluation of hearing impairment in veterans. He also served the VA as Chairman of its Advisory Committee on Hearing Aids. The Beltone Institute for Hearing Research counted him among their Trustees for almost 20 years. Carhart was a member of the National Advisory Council on the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke, 1965-69, and at one time was seriously considered for appointment as Director of the NINDS. He was also active in promoting high quality in education and training.

Carhart's articles, chapters, and reports number more than 140, from 1938 to 1975. Of these 45% were produced after he embarked on his Research Career Award. Many of his publications have been of considerable importance.

In addition to career award and his various fellowships Carhart received the Award of Merit from the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology (1960), the Honors of the American Speech and Hearing Association (1960), and The Alumni Medal from the Northwestern University Alumni Association (1974). On his 61st birthday his students honored Carhart with a research colloquium held at Northwestern.

On August 2, 1935, Carhart married Mary Ellen Westfall, and three children were born of this marriage: Richard Alan, Robert Noble, and Raymond Edgar. There are five grandchildren. Mrs. Carhart died December 24, 1971, and on March 31, 1973, Carhart married Jeanette Davis Grunig.

Carhart holds a distinguished position as the founder and chief pioneer in the field of audiology. The Frances Searle Building (dedicated in 1972), which houses Northwestern's Communicative Disorders Department, was conceived, planned, and built largely through his efforts. His most widespread effects, however, are found directly in the impressions he made upon his students and indirectly in the benefits reaped by so many of the hard-of-hearing as a result of Carhart's decades of research and evaluation.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Raymond Carhart (1912-1975) Papers

Identifier: 20/13
Abstract Raymond Thomas Carhart was a professor of Audiology and Otolaryngology at Northwestern University. He holds a distinguished position as the founder and chief pioneer in the field of audiology, establishing the first academic program in audiology in the United States. He developed and refined speech audiometry and used it effectively in evaluating the efficiency of hearing aids. The Raymond Carhart Papers are arranged in five main categories: Biographical Material; Correspondence, Committee...
Dates: 1938-1975