James Logan

James Logan was born on February 27, 1843 in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania.  When he was four years old he got sick.  He had scarlet fever.  He became deaf because he was sick.  Logan went to school at the Pennsylvania Institution for the Deaf.  When he graduated he kept studying.  He did not want to stop learning.  He even had a tutor

Pennsylvania Institution for the Deaf

Picture Courtesy of The Free Library of Philadelphia

U.S. Coast Survey Area

Picture Courtesy of the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection

Logan started working for the U.S. Coast Survey.  He went to college at Gallaudet College.  He saved microbes he found at his job.  He would look at them under a microscope at school.

While he was in college he asked the Smithsonian Institution to help him get a better microscope.  He wanted to have it brought across the ocean from Europe.  He wanted to improve the microscope.  First he changed the microscope so it would not vibrate.  He was given a patent for the changes he made.


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Photo Courtesy of MSN Encarta Encyclopedia

After this he became a teacher at the Illinois School for the Deaf.  He did not think deaf students learned enough about science.  He wrote about this in the American Annals of the Deaf.  While he was a teacher there he became interested in foraminiferous materials.

After this he helped found the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf. He was the first Superintendent.  While he worked there he started writing books for children.  You can still find his book in some libraries. 

Picture Courtesy of The Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf

Photo Courtesy of Radio-Tech News

For a short time Logan had his own business.  He sold metal and sold glasses, and made scientific tools.  Later he worked for the Department of Agriculture in Pennsylvania as a microscopist.  His job was to make sure there were not bacteria in the city’s food. 

After this Logan started working as an instructor at the Western Pennsylvania Medical College.  Then he moved to work in the Biological Laboratory of the Western University of Pennsylvania.   

Western Pennsylvania Medical College

Picture Courtesy of the Carnegie Museum of Art


Photo Courtesy of Washington State University


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Logan then changed jobs again.  He was hired to work at Western University.  His job was to study molds, spores, and algae.  He was an expert.  Sometimes he even had to testify in court.  While he worked at the university he was chosen to serve on the City of Pittsburgh’s Water Commission.  He also founded the Iron City Microscopical Society.


Photo Courtesy of the State of Oregon

He communicated by writing most of his life.  He wrote articles about fingerspelling and sign language.   He died on December 9, 1917.  He had pneumonia.

Picture Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine

Web Links


Lang, H. G., & Meath-Lang, B. (1995). James Logan.  In A Biographical Dictionary: Deaf Persons in the Arts and Sciences
     (pp.228-231). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.