Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet (1787 – 1851)

Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet

Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on December 10, 1787. Gallaudet was an intelligent young man who earned an undergraduate and graduate degree from Yale University.  He then became a preacher after graduating from Andover Theological Seminary. 

In the early 1800s, Gallaudet became interested in teaching the deaf when he met Alice Cogswell, the nine-year-old deaf daughter of his neighbor.  He managed to teach Alice words by writing them with a stick in the dirt.  With Alice’s father, Gallaudet traveled to Europe to learn more about teaching methods for the deaf.

In 1817, Gallaudet assisted in founding the American Asylum for Deaf-Mutes – now called the American School for the Deaf – in West Hartford, Connecticut, and he served as its principal for many years.  This was the first in school in the country devoted to educating deaf children at the time of its establishment.  In 1821, Gallaudet married one his former students Sophia Fowler.

Thomas’s son, Edward Miner Gallaudet, established the first college for the deaf in 1864 in Washington, D.C.  In 1986, the college was renamed Gallaudet University.

Reverend Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet died on September 10, 1851.  He, along with his wife and son Edward, are interred at Hartford’s historic Cedar Hill Cemetery.  Gallaudet is recognized as the father of deaf education in the United States.

References:
Gallaudet University. The Legacy Begins. Accessed at
http://aaweb.gallaudet.edu/About_Gallaudet/History_of_the_University/The_Legacy_Begins.html on August 24, 2010.
New World Encyclopedia. Gallaudet, Thomas Hopkins. Accessed at
http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Thomas_Hopkins_Gallaudet on August 24, 2010.
Wikipedia. Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet. Accessed at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Hopkins_Gallaudet on August 24, 2010.

Photo Credit: Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, Public Domain