Samuel Silas Curry


Samuel Silas Curry was an elocutionist. Curry studied elocution with a prominent dramatic reciter Anna Baright. Together they founded a private school, the School of Elocution and Expression, in Boston in 1879. The school had well known patrons who served on its board, including Henry Hudson, Alexander Graham bell, Alexander Melville Bell, Charles W. Eliot, William Dean Howells and Joseph Jefferson (Blanchard, 1953, p.626). Among the students in attendance were Smiley Blanton and Sara Stinchfield Hawk, who were to become founding figures in the field of speech language pathology.

The school's philosophy was that individuals could reach their true potential by cultivating the art of expression. Their approach came to be called the "think the thought" method in which expression was primarily a conveyer of thought. Their emphasis was to enhance a person's natural expression by activating their mind and imagination. They designed their teachings based in this philosophy, as well as on the science of elocution (physiological basis of speech sound production) in areas of drama, oratory and elocution.

The School of Expression was granted the right to award a BS and MS degrees in Oratory in 1939. The name was changed to Curry School, and in 1943 it was again changed, this time to Curry College. The college, now a liberal arts undergraduate college, still exists in Milton, Massachusetts.

Samuel Curry was born in Chatata, a city in Eastern Tennessee, on November 23, 1847. In his young years Civil War armies from the North as well as the South moved across Tennessee taking things from his family's farm.

Curry was self educated, since there were no schools in his area. He graduated with honors from East Tennessee Wesleyan University in 1872. In 1875 he earned a ministerial degree from Boston University and took courses in elocution as part of his ministerial training. He continued his studies there earning a Masters degree in 1878 and a Ph.D. in 1880. He also received a diploma from Guilmette's School of Vocal Physiology.

In 1873, Curry attended a lecture by Alexander Graham Bell at the School of Oratory at Boston University. It is said that that the scientific aspects of Bell's lecture influenced Curry so strongly that he decided to become an elocutionist rather than a minister. Curry's strong interest in elocution also stemmed from his own speaking difficulties which he described thusly:

One Sunday morning I stood before an audience in the middle of an address (he was a minister), unable to speak a word. The horror of those moments has never been blotted from my memory. The failure was a climax of several years of misuse of my voice, though during that time I had sought help from every available source. I determined to search still more diligently to find the causes of my condition (cited in Curry College history).

Writings of Samuel Silas Curry, arranged chronologically

Curry, S. (1875) The minister's conception of his work. Unpublished Ministerial Thesis, Boston University.

Curry, S. (1891). The province of expression; a search for principles underlying adequate methods of developing dramatic and oratoric delivery. Boston, School of Expression.

Curry, S. (1895). Lessons in vocal expression: Course I. Processes of thinking in the modulation of the voice. Boston, MA: The Expression Company.

Curry, S. (1896). Imagination and dramatic instinct. Some practical steps for their development. Boston: The Expression Co.

Curry, S. (1903). Vocal and literary interpretation of the bible. NY: G. H. Doran.

Curry, S. (1907). Foundations of expression: Studies and problems for developing voice, body and mind in reading and speaking. Boston, The Expression Company.

Curry, S. (1908). Browning and the dramatic monologue: Nature and interpretation of an overlooked form of literature. Boston: Expression Company.

Curry, S. (1909). Alexander Melville Bell. Boston, MA: Expression Co.

Curry, S. (1910). Mind and voice, principles and methods in vocal training. Boston: Expression Co.

Curry, S. (1912). Little classics, with initiative steps in vocal training for oral English. Boston, MA: The Expression Co.

Curry, S. (1915) How to add ten years to your life and to double its satisfactions. Boston, MA: School of Expression.

Curry, S. (1915). The smile: if you can do nothing else, you can smile. Boston, MA: School of Expression.

Writings about S. Curry

Blanchard, F. (1853). Professional theatre schools in the early twentieth century. In K. Wallace (Ed.) History of speech education in America. NY Appleton-Century Crofts, Inc.