George T. Dougherty

George T. Dougherty was born on January 4, 1860 in Franklin County, Missouri.  When Dougherty was two years old he got sick.  He had typhoid fever.  He became deaf because of the fever. He went to school at the Missouri School for the Deaf.

Photo Courtesy of Representative deaf persons of the United States of America.

Gallaudet University

Picture Courtesy of Gallaudet University

After that he went to Gallaudet College. He got a Bachelorís degree.  He also went to the Polytechnic School of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.  He studied chemistry for two years.  Then he got a Master's degree from Gallaudet College.

Dougherty became an assayer and chemist at the St. Louis Sugar Refining company.  He also worked for other companies such as the Vulcan Steel Works and the Deering Harvester Company.  Later he started the National Smelting and Refining Company.  His job was to test and study metal. After that he worked for the American Steel Foundries Company as the Head Chemist and Metallurgist.  This time it was a permanent job.  He was very good at his job.  Many other companies offered him a lot of money to work for them. He said no.


National Refining Company

Picture Courtesy of the Kansas State Libraray

              Nickel                                     Rust
Picture Courtesy of the Nickel Institute
Picture Courtesy of My Four Thirds Photography

                           Armored Vehicle
                                             Picture Courtesy of the U.S. Army

Dougherty created a formula to figure out how much nickel was in armor plate steel.  Armor plate steel is used to make armored vehicles for the military.  Steel has nickel in it.  Nickel keeps the steel from rusting. 


He also figured out a way to figure out how much vanadium was in steel.  This is important because vanadium is used to make car axles.    He also studied the amount of salt in petroleum


Car Axel

Picture Courtesy of Cary Academy


Picture Courtesy of Elementymology & Elements Multidict


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association

Vegetable Fat

Picture Courtesy of Crisco

Animal Fat

Courtesy of Lehman's Country Life

Later he invented the Reflux Air Condenser.  It changed oil and fat into soap.

Dougherty was active in the Deaf Community.    He was the first successful deaf scientist to graduate from a state school for the deaf.  He proved that deaf people could be just as successful as hearing people. 

He encouraged deaf students to go to college and become professionals.  He was one of the founders of the National Association of the Deaf.  He was also a leader at the World Congress of the Deaf and Chicagoís Pas-a-Pas club.

National Association of the Deaf

Picture Courtesy of the NAD


Library of Congress

Picture Courtesy of the Library of Congress

He communicated mostly through writing because he did not think reading lips was accurate.  Dougherty wrote many articles.  He was a very good writer.  One paper he wrote was put into a textbook that many students studied.   

He was a supporter of technical education and worked to preserve American Sign Language.  He gave a lecture in sign language about the discovery of chloroform in 1913 and it is still saved at the Library of Congress. 

He decided on December 2, 1938.  

Web Links


Gallaher, James E. (1898). Representative deaf persons of the United States of America. Chicago, IL: James E. Gallaher Publisher.

Lang, H. G., & Meath-Lang, B. (1995). George Dougherty.  In A Biographical Dictionary: Deaf Persons in the Arts and Science(pp.96-98). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.