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Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet

From Academic Kids

Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet (December 10, 1787September 10, 1851) was born in Philadelphia. In 1805 he graduated from Yale University. He wanted to do many things such as study law, engage in trade, or study divinity. In 1814 Gallaudet became a preacher; he later became interested in writing children's books.

Gallaudet's wish to become a preacher was put aside when he met Alice Cogswell, the nine-year-old deaf daughter of a neighbour, Dr. Mason Cogswell. 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. At the same time, he 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" in 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 deaf students 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. Young Alice was one of the first seven students in the United States. This is where his school began. Even some hearing students came to this school to learn.

His son Edward Miner Gallaudet (1837-1917) founded 1857 the first college for the deaf which later 1864 became Gallaudet University. Gallaudet University isn't just a school for people who are in college but a school for young people who are in elementary, middle, and high school.

Gallaudet died in Hartford in 1851.

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