Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet

From Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core
Jump to: navigation, search
For Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet's son, see Thomas Gallaudet (1822–1902).
Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet
File:Thomas hopkins gallaudet posthumous oil painting by george f wright 1851.jpg
Painting by George F. Wright in 1851.
Born (1787-12-10)December 10, 1787
United States Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died September 10, 1851(1851-09-10) (aged 63)
United States Hartford, Connecticut
Occupation Minister, educator, co-founder of the first permanent school for the deaf in North America.
Spouse(s) Sophia Fowler

Reverend Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, LL.D., (December 10, 1787 – September 10, 1851) was a renowned American pioneer in the education of the deaf. Along with Laurent Clerc and Mason Cogswell, he co-founded the first institution for the education of the deaf in North America, and he became its first principal. When opened on April 15, 1817, it was called the "Connecticut Asylum (at Hartford) for the Education and Instruction of Deaf and Dumb Persons," but it is now known as the American School for the Deaf.


Gallaudet was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His parents moved to Hartford, Connecticut when he was 13. Wanting to be in the ministry from a young age he stayed behind as a youth minister, but because of health reasons he had to eventually move to Connecticut to live with his parents.[1] He attended Yale University, earning his bachelor's degree in 1805,[2] graduating at the age of seventeen,[3] with highest honors,[4] and then earned a master's degree at Yale in 1808.[5][6] He wanted to do many things such as study law, engage in trade, or study theology. In 1814, Gallaudet became a preacher following his graduation from Andover Theological Seminary after a two-year course of study.[7]

However, Gallaudet's wish to become a professional minister was put aside when he met Alice Cogswell, on the 25th of May, the nine-year-old deaf daughter of a neighbor, Dr. Mason Cogswell.[8] On that day, as he observed her playing, he wanted to teach her. Gallaudet started to teach Alice what different objects were called by writing their names and drawing pictures of them with a stick in the dirt. Then Cogswell asked Gallaudet to travel to Europe to study methods for teaching deaf students, especially those of the Braidwood family in England. Gallaudet found the Braidwoods unwilling to share knowledge of their oral communication method and himself financially limited. At the same time, he also was not satisfied that the oral method produced desirable results.

While still in Great Britain, he met Abbé Sicard, head of the Institution Nationale des Sourds-Muets à Paris, and two of its deaf faculty members, Laurent Clerc and Jean Massieu. Sicard invited Gallaudet to Paris to study the school's method of teaching the deaf using manual communication. Impressed with the manual method, Gallaudet studied teaching methodology under Sicard, learning sign language from Massieu and Clerc, who were both highly educated graduates of the school.

Having persuaded Clerc to accompany him, Gallaudet sailed back to America. The two men toured New England and successfully raised private and public funds to found a school for deaf students in Hartford, which later became known as the American School for the Deaf (ASD), in 1817. Young Alice was one of the first seven students at ASD.

In 1821, he married one of his former students, Sophia Fowler. They had 8 children as well.

Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet died in Hartford on September 10, 1851, aged 63, and was buried in Hartford's Cedar Hill Cemetery plot section 3. There is a residence hall named in his honor at nearby Central Connecticut State University in New Britain. There is also a residence hall named in his honor at the University of Hartford in West Hartford.


His youngest child Edward Miner Gallaudet (1837–1917) founded in 1864 the first college for the deaf, which, in 1986, became Gallaudet University. He was president for 46 years. The university also offers education for those in elementary, middle, and high school. The elementary school on the Gallaudet University Campus is named the Kendall Demonstration Elementary School (KDES); the middle and high school is the Model Secondary School for the Deaf (MSSD).

Gallaudet had another son, Thomas Gallaudet, who became an Episcopal priest and also worked for the deaf.

Gallaudet's father, Peter Wallace Gallaudet, was a personal secretary to US President George Washington, when the office of the President was located in Philadelphia.[9][10]

Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet was the eldest of 13 children. His younger siblings' names were: Edgar (1789–90), Charles (1792–1830), (unnamed twins, 1793), Catherine (1793–1856), James (1796–1878), William Edgar (1797–1821), Ann Watts (1800–50), Jane (1801–35), Theodore (1805–85), Edward (1808–47), and Wallace (1811–16).[11] William Edgar Gallaudet graduated from Yale with a B.A. in 1815.

File:Statue of alice cogswell and thomas hopkins gallaudet.jpg
Statue of Alice Cogswell and Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet.



  • Barnard, Henry. 1852.Tribute to Gallaudet – A Discourse in Commemoration of the Life, Character and Services, of the Rev. Thomas H. Gallaudet, LL.D. – Delivered Before the Citizens of Hartford, Jan. 7th, 1852. With an Appendix, Containing History of Deaf-Mute Instruction and Institutions, and other Documents. Hartford: Brockett & Hutchinson. (Download book:
  • Booth, Edwin. 1881. “Booth's reminiscences of Gallaudet” at the Wayback Machine (archived June 27, 2008), American Annals of the Deaf, Volume 26, Number 3, (July 1881), pages 200–202.
  • Gallaudet, Edward Miner. 1888. Life of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet – Founder of Deaf-Mute Instruction in America, New York, H. Holt and Co. (Download book:
  • Gallaudet, Edward Miner. Letter to J.H. McFarlane (undated). Published in Deaf-Mutes' Journal, vol. 51, no. 46 (November 16, 1922), p. 2.
  • Gallaudet, Thomas Hopkins. 1844. Letter to Horace Mann. Quoted in Heman Humphrey. 1857. The Life and Labors of the Rev. T.H. Gallaudet, LL.D., New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, pp. 209–212.
  • Gallaudet, T.H. 1848. On the Natural Language of Signs; and It's Value and Uses in the Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb. American Annals of the Deaf, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 79–93. Reprinted in: American Annals of the Deaf, vol. 142, no. 3, pp. 1–7. (PDF)
  • Humphrey, Heman. 1857. The Life and Labors of the Rev. T.H. Gallaudet, LL.D., New York: Robert Carter & Brothers. (Download book:
  • Peet, Isaac Lewis. 1888. “Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet” at the Wayback Machine (archived June 27, 2008), American Annals of the Deaf, Volume 33, Number 1, (October 1888), pages 43–54.
  • "Recent Deaths"; New York Daily Times; September 18, 1851; page 2. (Accessed from The New York Times (1851–2003), ProQuest Historical Newspapers, September 19, 2006).


  2. Gallaudet, E.M., "Life of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet," pp. 19–25.
  3. Barnard, Henry, "Tribute to Gallaudet," p. 10.
  4. Heman, Humphrey. 1857. The Life and Labors of the Rev. T.H. Gallaudet, LL.D., New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, p. 23.
  5. Dexter's volume on early Yale graduates
  6. archBishop, Lottie Genevieve. 1939 Historical Register of Yale University. New Haven, Conn., Yale university. p. 272 Link to Google Books
  7. Gallard, E.M., "Life of Thomas Hopkins Galllaudet," pp. 38–41.
  8. Gallaudet, E.M., "Life of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet," p.46.
  9. Boatner, Maxine Tull, "Voice of the Deaf," p. 1
  10. Notable Gallaudet's in American history at the Wayback Machine (archived January 14, 2004) on Web site of direct descendants of TH Gallaudet.
  11. Boatner, Maxine Tull. 1959. Voice of the Deaf, p. xiv, citing Virginia W. Somerville.
  12. Gallaudet, E.M., "Life of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet," p. 319.
  13. Gannon, Jack. 1981. Deaf Heritage–A Narrative History of Deaf America, Silver Spring, MD: National Association of the Deaf, p. 6 (PDF)

External links