John Isaac Doran was born in Sydney in 1873. He lost his hearing in an accident when he was four years old. At the age of seven he was admitted to the NSW Institute at Darlington and when he finished school he boarded with the family of Darlington schoolmate Fletcher Booth.
John’s leadership in the Deaf Community came about through his love of sports, particularly cricket and lacrosse. He began playing cricket with his former deaf schoolmates, and lacrosse with a group of hearing players at Moore Park on Saturday afternoons. At this time there were no formal cricket and lacrosse teams for deaf men so in 1895 John formed a NSW team to play the first interstate friendly cricket game for deaf teams in Melbourne. He also assisted his deaf friends in setting up a deaf lacrosse team.
In addition to starting up sporting teams for deaf players, John was also involved in the establishment of the Deaf Society. As a member of the original Deaf Committee he put in a huge amount of work towards the formation of the Deaf Society in 1913. At the end of World War I the Deaf Committee began to hold joint meetings with the Board of Management of the Deaf Society, and from 1934 through to 1937 John Doran was a member of the Society’s Council.
John met his future wife Rosa Minna Von Bertouch at the first interstate Conference of the Deaf held in Melbourne in 1903. They married in Adelaide in 1904 and had two children, Mabel and Elvira (Ella).
After the establishment of the Deaf Society, both John and his wife Rosa became professional Collectors who travelled around NSW collecting vital funds for the Society. Rosa was the Society’s Northern Districts Collector for 12 years until her death in 1942 in a railway accident in Kurri Kurri, NSW. Their daughter Ella went on to work as an interpreter and later Welfare Officer for the Deaf Society.
John had always been a keen amateur photographer and went on to work as a professional photographer for weddings, picnics and family gatherings. He became popular in this job and successful enough to employ a number of assistants.
John was recognised in the Silent Messenger for his dedication to the Deaf Community, and for being an integral part of the formative years of the Deaf Society. John died at the Alfred Lonsdale Home in Strathfield in 1956 at the age of 82.
Book ‘Hand in Hand with Time and Change’, Ella Doran, 1998
Annual Report DSNSW 1932 DBR 318
Silent Messenger 1942 DBR 262
Silent Messenger 1956 DBR 276