Edward Miner Gallaudet (1837 – 1917)

Edward Miner Gallaudet

Edward Miner Gallaudet, son of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet who founded the American School for the Deaf in West Hartford, Connecticut, was a famous early educator of the deaf. Gallaudet was only 14 when his father died. Having graduated from Hartford High School, Gallaudet entered the workforce at a local bank. Unsatisfied with the monotony of being a banker, he quit the job after three years and joined the staff at the American School for the Deaf thus beginning his long career as a teacher. While teaching, he attended Trinity College in Hartford and received his masters and doctorate degrees.

In 1857, U.S. politician Amos Kendall donated land for the establishment of a school for the deaf and blind in Washington, D.C. Familiar with Gallaudet’s success in teaching the deaf, Kendall asked him to lead the new school. Gallaudet agreed and became the first principal of Columbia Institution for the Deaf and Blind.

Less than 10 years later in 1864, Gallaudet sought college status for Columbia Institution. Although not necessary, President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill into law authorizing the Columbia Institution to award college degrees. As a result, Columbia Institution, which would eventually become Gallaudet University, became the first college for the deaf.

Edward Miner Gallaudet was associated with Gallaudet College/Columbia Institution for more than 50 years and his mother, Sophia Fowler Gallaudet, served as its matron. Although he recognized the value of speech training, he was a staunch advocate of sign language believing that speech training was not for everyone who was deaf.

After retiring from Gallaudet College, Edward Miner Gallaudet returned to his hometown of Hartford, Connecticut. He died in 1917 at the age of 80.

Gallaudet University. History of Gallaudet University. Accessed at
http://aaweb.gallaudet.edu/About_Gallaudet/History_of_the_University.html on August 24, 2010.
Wikipedia. Edward Miner Gallaudet. Accessed at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Miner_Gallaudet on August 24, 2010.

Photo Credit: Edward Miner Gallaudet, Public Domain