Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet

Dr. Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet
Dr Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet

Dr. Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet is probably the most influential person in the history of American Sign Language. Gallaudet, along with Laurent Clerc, was responsible for starting the first free public school for the deaf in the United States.

Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet Articles by Students

Who is your favorite person from deaf history?

Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet

by Lynette Wucher | May 4, 2016

Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet had a major part in the history of American Sign Language. Due to his neighbor’s daughter being deaf, he sought out a way for her to have an education.  He took his time to work with Alice but was unsuccessful in finding a solution to communicate and teach.  He didn’t give up.  He recruited the community to find a solution.  This involved going overseas to learn from the best about sign language at National Institute for Deaf-Mutes (the first of its kind in Europe).  This was not a normal feat. This would have taken time and a lot of money for the round-trip.  He took time away from his occupation as a minister in America to eventually “minister” to Alice and so many more.

Once he felt he had adequate information to make a difference, he returned home.  However, Gallaudet also brought back to America another teacher, Laurent Clerc – one of the best teachers in Europe for sign language.  This act enabled Gallaudet to continue to learn while still being able to teach others.  Gallaudet was thinking both for the present and the future for Americans who were and would eventually be deaf.  The ability to think beyond the here-and-now gave a strong foundation for American Sign Language today.

Finally, once Gallaudet arrived back in America, he not only taught Alice, which was his main reason; he also taught many others.  These deaf students came from all over America to have an equal chance for an education.  Eventually, due to Gallaudet’s one school, many other deaf schools opened throughout America through the students of his first school.  From these schools, more and more deaf students had the opportunity to learn, also. In the end, his son, Edward continued the work of his father in American Sign Language.

Gallaudet was a major key factor in the foundation of American Sign Language.  He contributed so much from his desire for deaf society to be a vital part, providing a school where many other schools began, and providing the signs we now use today.  American Sign Language would not be what it is today without the integral part of Thomas Gallaudet.

Dr. Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet

by Noelle (Santa Ana, CA) | December 13, 2013

In learning about the history of American Sign Language, it is hard to pick a favorite historical figure related to deaf history.

I have always been interested in ASL and the deaf community, and it wasn’t until recently that I decided to act upon this life-long passion. I also love history, and since this is an American Sign Language class, and before taking it I had heard of Gallaudet University, I find myself drawn to Dr. Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet.

I would like to say that my favorite is Abbe de L’Epee for pioneering deaf education, but Gallaudet did the same for America. His passion to teach and ability to see the need to help the deaf in America communicate like the deaf in Europe was a worthy endeavor.

I admire his drive to seek out the best methods and willingness to learn. In his day it would not have been a quick trip or cheap thing to travel to Europe, study, and come back to America to start a whole new school. His ability to be able to see the needs of our country by enlisting the help of Laurent Clerc is also admirable.

I also like that he was open-minded enough to take existing sign language of the native people to incorporate into ASL as opposed to just teaching the children what he was taught in Europe.

Finally, Gallaudet inspired his son to carry on in his work. This is probably what I like the most, because it really shows that he was a great leader and educator.

Dr. Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet and Alice Cogswell

by Anonymous (Texas) | March 8, 2013

I chose Dr. Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet and Alice Cogswell as my favorite people from Deaf history.

Why did I chose both instead of just one? Well the answer is simple really. Gallaudet made such a huge impact in Deaf history, but would this ever of really took off without Alice there to make him become so pasionate about teaching the Deaf? For Gallaudet to realize how smart Alice was she must have done something to catch his eye.

She showed how much she knew without being properly educated to start with well just how much could she understand about the world when she was educated. Then Gallaudet not only decided to educate her but left America and traveled over seas to learn the best and most effective way to teach her.

Alice must have been pretty special to Gallaudet for him to leave his home and go to a foreign place where he knows no one just so that he could give her the education he thought she deserved. Without Gallaudet’s passion to give Alice an education and not only an education, the best one she could get, then where would Deaf America be today?

Education would have made it over here eventually but would ASL be so widely used as it is today or would we all be learning a different type of sign and would we even have the acknowledgement that ASL is a language yet or would that have been set back years as well?

So you can’t really have Gallaudet’s progress in Deaf history without him getting to know the wonderful person Alice must have been.

My Choice…

by Lisa Ann (Killeen, Texas)| March 8, 2013

I have always been interested in sign language and was excited to find out more about how to sign, as well as, the history of its development. I was amazed at how little I knew and realized I had not heard of half of these remarkable people in all the years of my schooling. After reading and doing some research, it is quite difficult to choose just one since there are so many accomplished deaf citizens.

If choosing just one person is the assignment, then I must choose Reverend Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet. I found him quite interesting because he was on his own path before finding “His” path. Reverend Gallaudet had his hopes set on becoming a professional minister, after an amazing achievement of graduating from Yale University with his bachelor’s degree at seventeen, then earning his Master’s degree three years later and finally finishing seminary. Everything changed for Reverend Gallaudet when he met his neighbor’s young deaf daughter, Alice Cogswell. He was then inspired to travel to another continent to learn more on how to educate those who were hearing impaired.

While in Europe, the Reverend met those unwilling to help him but soon met Abbe Sicard who invited him to the Institution Nationale des Sourds-Muets à Paris and learn from two of their faculty members, Laurent Clerc and Jean Massieu, about manual sign language and its methodology. He then returned home to New England and with the aide of private and public funds, he created a school for the deaf which later became known as the American School for the Deaf.

I think the actions of Reverend Gallaudet were groundbreaking and quite extraordinary and to think it all began with a meeting of one remarkable young girl who put this man of God on the path he was meant to be on.

My Thoughts

by Caitlin (El Paso, Texas) | May 28, 2013

The person I admire the most from deaf history is Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet. The reason for this is the great impact he had on the deaf people in America.

Because of his interest in Alice Cogswell, Gallaudet traveled to Europe and learned from the most knowledgeable people in the techniques of teaching the deaf. After he learned the different teaching methods, and signs used by the French deaf schools, Gallaudet, accompanied by Laurent Clerc, returned to America and proceeded to establish the first school for the Deaf in the U.S. Eventually, because of Gallaudet, the first college for the Deaf was established along with twenty-two other Deaf schools.

The thing I like the most about Gallaudet is how his first small concern for a little girl started a chain of events that ended with a historic event like a college for the Deaf. For me, Gallaudet’s story shows how ordinary people can impact history and people around them by doing what seems impossible.

If you think about it, when Gallaudet returned to America with the dream of opening a free school for Deaf students, it might have seemed impossible at the time. However, Gallaudet accomplished his vision, which expanded and finally resulted in his son, Edward Gallaudet, helping to establish a deaf college, which was named Gallaudet University in 1986, in honor of he one who started the journey that ended in a Deaf University.

The Gallaudet Family

by Deanna Edmiston (Round Rock, Texas) | September 23, 2015

I was really impressed to learn about the Gallaudet family. Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet’s contribution to deaf history comes in his founding of the American School for the Deaf in 1816, in Hartford, Connecticut. His son, Edward Minor Gallaudet, also made a huge contribution in deaf history as the founder of Gallaudet University. These contributions have allowed the intellectual side of those who are deaf to be explored more fully. Edward Minor Gallaudet served as president of the university from 1864 through the first decade of the twentieth century.

Having lived in the suburbs of Washington, DC, I was used to hearing about Gallaudet university in the news, but it wasn’t until I developed deeper relationships with two deaf friends that I took more of an interest in the university. One of my friends shared with me a video that taught me about the deaf community. The video featured several interesting aspects of the university, including the Deaf President Now campaign that took place on the Gallaudet campus.

I’m really thankful for this assignment because it really has allowed me to explore aspects of history from a deaf cultural perspective, which is something I may not have explored without this assignment.

The First US Deaf Educator

by Lyndee (Missouri) | May 8, 2013

My favorite person from Deaf History would have to be Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet. While I find much of Deaf History intriguing, I am particularly interested in this man. He was essentially the first Deaf Educator in the United States. He was breaking new ground for all future Deaf Educators.

I am also a Deaf Educator and I know how challenging and rewarding it can be working with deaf and hard of hearing students. It is fascinating to think that he traveled to another country to learn how to best teach children with a hearing loss and then brought that knowledge back to help countless generations of children. Now that we have entire courses and majors dedicated to the pursuit of becoming a Deaf Educator, it is difficult to imagine a time when there was no training in the United States for what Gallaudet wanted to do.

The fact that he succeeded and started the first school for deaf children in the US is even more inspiring. He went for one little girl and his work essentially began generations of Deaf Educators. Without Thomas H. Gallaudet, I might not have a job today and we might not have American Sign Language.

Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet

by Nicole McGovern | October 31, 2016

So many people in Deaf history are significant and have made a great impact on Deaf culture in today’s society. My favorite person from Deaf history would have to be Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet. I chose Gallaudet as my favorite because he initiated American Sign Language in 1814. He was inspired by his neighbor’s intelligent deaf/mute daughter, and wanted to teach her. He gathered local support and eventually raised enough money to travel to Europe, where they had more effective ways of educating deaf/mute children. After studying the teaching methods of European peers Laurent Clerc and Jean Massieu, Gallaudet returned to America. He was so passionate about his mission that he spent a great deal of time raising money just so he could learn how to better educate deaf/mute children. He also brought Clerc back with him to America to help spread his teaching methods. Together, they started a deaf school, the American School for the Deaf, in 1817. Gallaudet is my favorite person in Deaf history because he was so determined to bring sign language and deaf/mute education to America, and all his determination and hard work paid off when he accomplished what he originally set out to do: give a better education to the deaf.

Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet

by Anonymous | September 23, 2015

Thomas H. Gallaudet is a remarkable figure in deaf history. He went above and beyond to help Alice Cogswell by traveling to Europe to learn from deaf educators there. He saw the need for deaf people to have access to an education. He also recognized the benefit of sign language and realized that oralism was not a good fit as the only method for educating deaf people. He helped establish American Sign Language by incorporating signs his students brought from home and some of the French signs he learned while studying with Laurent Clerc. The American School for the Deaf was founded in Hartford, Connecticut in 1817 by Gallaudet and Clerc. It was the first public deaf school in the U.S. Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet was so passionate in his pursuits that his legacy was passed on to his son Edward. Edward Gallaudet at only 18 years old was asked to be the Superintendent of the Columbia Institute for Deaf, Dumb, and Blind in Washington D.C. in 1855. Nine years later Columbia began granting college degrees. In 1893 the college was renamed Gallaudet College and was awarded university status in 1986. To date it is the only deaf university, and it is named after Thomas Gallaudet.

The minister and teacher: Dr. Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet

by Lori Reeve (Rodney, MI) | January 23, 2010

As a teacher and Christ-follower myself, I relate well with Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet (1787-1851) who was a social reformer, Congregationalist minister and teacher at heart. Since there were no schools for the Deaf in America at that time, Deaf children from wealthy families were often sent away to special schools in Europe to be educated. However, those without wealth had few options. Gallaudet’s life mission started when he saw a need and found a way to fulfill it. God blessed him with determination, dedication and diligence – all of which he would require throughout his life as he sought to demonstrate the value of educating the Deaf in America, a population of individuals who had typically and tragically been very isolated from society. He is quoted as saying, “Deaf people can learn” and so he spent the remainder of his life dedicated to proving that fact. What a wonderful impact Gallaudet’s work has had on so many people since that chance meeting with one little girl, almost 200 years ago.

In 1815, having just graduated from Andover Divinity School, Gallaudet met 9-year-old Alice Cogswell. She was the uneducated, deaf daughter of the physician, Dr. Mason Fitch Cogswell of Hartford, Connecticut. Gallaudet saw that she was intelligent and so he diligently worked with and taught Alice as much as he could, but he knew there had to be a better way.

Gallaudet felt a strong desire to further assist Alice and others like her. He observed how her deafness and lack of communication skills had isolated her from the community around her. He wanted to share the love of Christ with her as well as train her and other Deaf children in Biblical values and character through education.

Gallaudet found enough financial support from Dr. Cogswell and the wealthy members of the community of Hartford, CT to enable him to travel to Great Britain to seek out better techniques for educating the Deaf. After realizing that the schools in Great Britain were very protective and secretive of their methods, Gallaudet determined to find another place that would more willingly share their methods of educating Deaf children. He soon traveled across the English Channel to Paris, France and the National Institution for Deaf-Mutes, the 1st public school for the Deaf in the world. Gallaudet learned as much as he could from many of the educators, but particularly from one – the master teacher, Laurent Clerc, who was himself Deaf and had been trained at this school.

Two years after Gallaudet’s meeting of little Alice Cogswell, again with financial backing from Dr. Cogswell and others from Hartford, CT, Gallaudet along with Clerc started the 1st school for the Deaf in America, with Alice Cogswell as their first pupil to enroll.

Just as Gallaudet saw a need and met it, my introduction to ASL, was from a chance meeting with a little Deaf girl while I was a lifeguard at a pool in Toledo, OH almost 30 years ago. In order to facilitate communication with her, I studied every night from the book, “The Joy of Signing” and others which I borrowed from the library. By the end of my second summer as a lifeguard, there were about 15 different Deaf children coming to the pool each week, all with very appreciative parents.

Later in life, I used Baby Signs with our daughter, who is now 16 and wants to learn “real sign language.” As a home schooling family, we can easily accommodate this request and thanks to laws passed “of the people, for the people and by the people,” in 1989, we can count it toward her foreign language requirements.

Thanks to websites like yours, now, those without wealth DO have many options, as opposed to how, in the past, those without wealth had few options. Thank you so much for the possibilities you have opened up. I thank God that He blessed you with determination, dedication and diligence for creating this website. May your legacy live on like that of Dr. Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet.

Thomas H. Gallaudet

by Jay Hunsberger (Spring City, PA) | August 27, 2015

I am a hearing person who first heard the name Gallaudet on Switched at Birth when Gallaudet University was mentioned all through out the TV Show. the Deaf President Now movement that happened at Gallaudet University is also mentioned. Ever since college I have been a history buff, so when I had the opportunity to read about the origins of Gallaudet University, I was happy to read it.

When read about Thomas H. Gaulladet and all that he did to help deaf people it inspired me. the fact that he went to such great lengths to educate the deaf in America was so amazing to me. he was willing to go all the way to Europe in order to learn how to educate the deaf. In the school that he then created when he got back, ASL was created. If Gaulladet had not gone to such lengths to educate the deaf in America than ASL may never have been created. It is no wonder he son, Edward, decided to name Gallaudet University after him.

Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet

by Emily Wucher | May 4, 2016

Many people were a great influence to what deaf culture has become. It was hard to choose a favorite, but I think the most influential was Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet. Thomas met a young girl, Alice Cogswell, while going place to place teaching kids. Alice, who was deaf and mute, inspired Thomas to go to England to be a principal of a deaf school. That is one reason why Thomas is my favorite deaf person, because he met a deaf kid and wanted to help and do more for other deaf kids when he could have just moved on.

During his time in England, he had private lessons with Laurent Clerc. Thomas asked Laurent if he would go back to America with him. Thomas and Laurent went back to America and established American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Connecticut. Thomas established the first deaf school in America. Thomas used the signs he learned in England so he could teach the kids.

Thomas made a difference for deaf people. They could communicate and prosper in society. If Thomas didn’t meet Alice, he probably never would have gone to England to help out the deaf and establish an American deaf school. My favorite deaf person would definitely be Thomas because of his great influence he had on impacting deaf kids and helping them in society.

Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet

by Ciera Bailey | January 16, 2017

My favorite person is Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet. He was born on December 10th, 1787 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At age seventeen, he graduated at Yale University in 1805, earning a bachelor’s degree and graduated with the highest honors. Few years later, in 1808 Gallaudet earned his master’s degree at Yale University. Gallaudet wanted to become a minister, but that was put aside when he first met a nine year old girl Alice Cogswells who was deaf. His neighbor Mason Fitch Cogswells asked Gallaudet for help to teach his daughter due to the fact she was deaf. After watching her, Gallaudet wanted to help her to be able to communicate with others because he sees that she was very smart despite that she couldn’t hear or speak.

Thomas had no experience of communicating to deaf people, so he decides to take a trip to Europe to where first deaf education was established. In Europe, Gallaudet ran into Abbé Sicard, Jean Massieu, and Laurent Clerc. Jean Massieu and Laurent Clerc used to be Abbé Sicard’s students and they were both well accomplished deaf educators at the time. Gallaudet studied the teaching methods from Clerc and Massieu. When it was time for Gallaudet to return back to America, Gallaudet asked Clerc to come with him and help start new deaf schools in America. Clerc agreed and came along with Gallaudet’s journey to America.

Gallaudet and Clerc’s school, which is known as the first American School for the deaf, it was established in Hartford, Connecticut in 1817. It was the first public deaf school in America. Young Alice was one of the first students at the deaf school. The school began to grow quickly with many deaf children coming across the states to learn American Sign Language that were taught by Gallaudet and Clerc. By 1863, there were over 21 deaf schools scattered across the United States. I admire Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet for what he has done to help make America a better place for all the deaf children. Thomas Gallaudet truly made history for the deaf people. Without Thomas Gallaudet’s passion for helping the deaf children, there would not have been any deaf schools for the children in America. That is why Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet is my favorite person in the Deaf History.

Thomas H. Gallaudet

by Lisa Groves (Camdenton, MO) | March 8, 2013

I found it very difficult to choose just one favorite, but in the interest of the essay subject I chose Thomas H. Gallaudet.

He must have been very dedicated to learning the best possible ways to educate the deaf because in his day making a trip to Europe was no easy task. Raising the funds and opening a school for the deaf was a huge step forward for the deaf community and I’m sure at times it was a daunting task, still he persevered.

I find it impressive that he worked so diligently to bring an effective means of communication to the deaf in the United States, learning sign language so that he could teach it to others. He laid the foundation for his son Edward to found Gallaudet University which was yet another step in the right direction for the deaf so they may further their education.

I wonder where would the deaf be today without all his hard work? Anyone willing to put forth the hard work and dedication necessary to fulfill their dreams is impressive to me and I believe Thomas Gallaudet did just that. Everyone has the right to a good education and the deaf are no exception and thanks to Gallaudet they too could be educated.

My favorite deaf educator is Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet

by Becca (Paraguay, South America) | March 8, 2013

My favorite person in the history of deaf education is Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet. What I admire most about him was the sacrifice he made for one little girl. I was impressed that he was interested in her life enough to go all the way to Europe to learn the best way to teach the deaf.

Not only did he learn how, but he also brought the skills back with him and used them to teach many deaf children. By doing this, he influenced many lives in a positive way.

I have always admired teachers who take the time to learn the best approach for the children they are teaching. To me that is what a lot of deaf educators have done. They saw a need, took the time to learn how to address that need, and had the dedication to carry out what they needed to do.

Reading about the people who taught the deaf in the past reminds me of those who continue to teach the deaf today. I have never had the opportunity to work in a deaf setting in the United States, but for about a year I volunteered at a deaf school in South America.

The teacher that I worked under was amazing. I admired her patience and love for the kids. She knows that each child responds to different techniques. Some of the kids only signed while others did a mixture of signing and speaking. One girl had a hearing aid and did some lip reading while another girl was completely deaf and used only sign. Marisol never forced a certain way on them but took the time to learn what worked best for them and used that.

I greatly admire those who have taught the deaf in the past and paved the way for deaf education in the present. I also admire those who continue to teach with patience and love.

Dr. Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet

by Holly (UK) | March 8, 2013

Here is a man that went to great lengths to educate a child that was not even his own. A child that most people would not have taken the time to bother with as it would have been difficult to communicate with her. How did he know she was bright? He must have taken the time to spend with her, trying to communicate with her.

I am a great believer that all children are born bright, they are all born geniuses. Whether they are encouraged to their full potential depends heavily on people like Gallaudet who recognize this fact and take the time to educate them properly.

He reminded me of Glenn Doman – a pioneer in educating and developing brain injured children, a person who went to great lengths at personal cost in order to make the lives of those less fortunate better and more normal. Not only did Gallaudet help this little girl, he also helped many other children after what he had learned. How many other people would like to help but don’t? Have good intentions but do not follow through? Many of us I’m sure.

I am sure his part in American Sign Language history is an important one as the founder of educating Deaf children in America.

Thomas H Gallaudet

by E-L-I-E (Indiana, USA) | March 8, 2013

I cannot believe how much I am learning about the Deaf Culture. Every chapter is fascinating because I had no idea how much there was to learn. I had no idea how much I didn’t know!

My favorite person is Thomas H Gallaudet because he was the one who broke through and made a difference for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing in America. He had to do something no one else had done, or was able to do before. He knew he wanted to help his neighbor’s daughter, Alice, grow to her full potential and was willing to go to Europe to find out how.

His dedication and commitment to the Deaf Community made the world start to change its view on them and how they were treated. Even though there were hard times in the early 1900’s, things are better now because Gallaudet decided to change things in the first place.

A man shows his true worth with what he leaves behind. The fact that Gallaudet’s son followed in his footsteps and always strived to make things better for the Deaf shows the greatness he accomplished. He was a man that fought hard to allow the Deaf to have a voice when they couldn’t be heard.

Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet

by Lynn (Clearwater, FL, USA) | July 1, 2013

Up until now, the only deaf (famous) people I was really familiar with was Helen Keller. Most of us had heard her story and found her to be inspiring. Through the years I’ve had deaf students in my classroom, hard of hearing friends, and I’m hard of hearing. But I’ve never read much on, “deaf history.”

Since starting this course, I’ve read about Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet. I was so impressed with him that I went online to read more of my own. His dedication to the deaf is amazing. And it began when he met a nine year old little girl who was deaf. Rather than assume she was not smart enough to be educated, he saw her potential. So he traveled to Europe to study sign language. He brought back the language and a teacher! Together, they were able to start a school for the deaf.

His dedication, determination, and love for the deaf was apparent and passed on to his children. His son not only worked at the school with his father, but went on to open a college for deaf students.

In thinking about Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, you have to wonder where we would be now if he hadn’t met a young deaf girl. Her life might now have been the same, as we well as thousands of others.

Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet

by Beth Swanberg | June 13, 2016

Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet is my favorite deaf person for several reasons. First, Gallaudet, who was born December 10, 1787 in Pennsylvania and died September 10, 1851, was a Yale educated man who graduated with high honors. And, he also studied theology in order to minister to people. He used his education to better other peoples’ lives.

Secondly, Gallaudet wished to help people including Alice Cogswell, who was a nine year old deaf girl. Gallaudet wished to teach Alice to communicate. This sprouted a desire to learn different methods to teach  deaf students. He traveled to Europe to find the knowledge he desperately needed. Eventually, he met Abbe Sicard, head of the deaf school in Paris.  Gallaudet learned sign language from Sicard and other teachers at the Paris school. One of the teachers was Laurent Clerc, who would later help Gallaudet start his own American school for the deaf.

One of the first students to enroll in the new school for the deaf was Alice Cogswell.

Last, I appreciate that Gallaudet was a family man who worked at the school until 1831. He then went on to minister to the insane and those in prisons.. The education of the deaf, in particular, made great strides because of his success in teaching the deaf to communicate. His dedication to bettering peoples’ lives are still impacting us today.

Thomas Gallaudet

by Bethany Crouch | November 8, 2016

Thomas was a young teenager at age 14, when he graduated from Yale University. He also began studying sign language and European educational systems and how they taught students. Gallaudet was challenged and inspired by the educational system that he traveled to Europe to expand his further knowledge and reach out to future students.

Thomas came back from Europe, to his home town in Connecticut. At this time Gallaudet, met a young 9 year old girl named, Alice Cogswell. Who was deaf. Cogswell’s Father, reached out to Thomas for his educational help, because he didn’t want his daughter to miss out on an education just because she was deaf. When he was in England he met many educators, and Dr. Cogswell funded his trip back to Europe to help get him better educated in lip reading and oral methods of learning for deaf children. Thomas then met, Laurent Clerc, who was deaf. Thomas taught Laurent English, and Laurent taught Thomas Sign language.

They both traveled back to Connecticut for a mission to make a school in the U.S. Gallaudet and Clerc were the first people to build the first, American School for the deaf. Clerc was also the very first deaf teacher of deaf students of the United States. The school expanded and later, Gallaudet married one of the graduates of the school. With the help of Clerc and both of their compassionate hearts, they helped expand the education for many other students.

Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet

by Annette Banks | July 24, 2016

When I read the history of Thomas Gallaudet, I never knew he was a Reverend.  I am a Christian and I can see how the hand of God was guiding this man to become a renowned American pioneer, so every deaf person could have a voice to communicate.

I believe that it was the divine purpose of God for him to visit his family in Hartford, Connecticut, and it was God’s plan that Alice Cogswell, would be outside playing with his sister and brother.  When he saw Alice, his heart was filled with compassion to help her.  When Alice father Mason Cogswell, subsequently financed Mr. Gallaudet’s trip to Europe, I can see the plan of God in motion.

Even though Thomas ran into many oppositions with the Braidwood family, I believe this to be the will of God. Why? Because God had a better plan and method of how to teach the deaf.

When Thomas met Abbe Sicard, Laurent Clerc, and Jean Massieu while he was in England, I can see the divine hand of God still moving in the right direction.  He was able to accompany these men back to their country in France to learn more about teaching the deaf how to communicate. When he ran out of funds and he knew he needed to learn more before returning to America; I am not surprised when he ask Clerc to accompany him back to America, and Clerc excepted. On the way back to America, Clerc continued to teach Thomas sign language and he taught Clerc English.  After arriving to the United States the two men established the America School for the Deaf in 1817.

Thank you God for using these men to bring such a beautiful language to America. Also, this language has helped the deaf as well as the hearing.

This is my Christian perception!

Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet

by Claudia Naidoo – Durban, South Africa | May 30, 2016

Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet is my favourite historical figure in American Deaf History. Whilst doing additional research, I found that he had made a sacrifice of his own dreams in order to invest time into giving Alice Cogswell an education (around year 1814).I think that it is remarkable that he knew nothing about Deaf history or culture and yet he took the responsibility of finding out more (even in the period where finding this sort of information was very difficult) .What really impressed me is, Tomas sought help from others and he travelled across the world to the UK. He pushed on and sought help, even though there were people that didn’t want to provide him with the information he needed. He’s passion and determination to help his neighbours kid, has been a milestone in Deaf History. So many other have benefited from him, his passion filtered through to the generations after him. Thomas was pioneer for Deaf Education in the US. In Africa ( I live in South Africa) , it was Andrew Foster (1925–1987)  the first African American graduate of Gallaudet University that established schools  for the Deaf throughout Africa .Andrew is commonly referred to as the father of Deaf Education in Africa.

To conclude, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet was an ordinary man that had Goals and Dreams like you and I. He saw Alice Cogswell playing and found interest in her, he gave up his dreams. He invested in her and millions of others benefited from this (like Andrew Foster).It is for this reason that Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet is my favorite historical figure in Deaf history.

Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet

by Alex Maj | January 27, 2017

In my opinion the most influential historical figure to American Sign Language is Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet. He was the first person in America that believed deaf people needed to be heard and decided to start teach. His first student was a 9 year old girls, the daughter of his neighbor. Mr. Gallaudet realized the potential in this little girl but could see that his teaching methods were not very effective. He had heard that in Europe there was a strong education system established there for the deaf, he turned to the community to raise money so he could travel to Europe and learn how to teach the deaf. While over in Europe Mr. Gallaudet met Abbé de l’Épée also known as the “Father of the Deaf” for the 21 schools he established. Gallaudet learned how to use sigh language during his trip and returned to America accompanied by one of the best teachers in Europe, Laurent Clerc. They created the first deaf school in the United Stated which is known as the American School for the Deaf which was established in Hartford Connecticut 1817. This was a huge step for the Deaf Community in the United Stated before this there was no where for deaf people to learn. The school was very successful deaf student from all over the country attended bringing their own sign from home which all contributed to the development of the firs version of American Sign Language. Gallaudet is my favorite person because without this contribution and dedication to creating American Sign Language it would of taken years before someone else took the risk of creating a deaf school. It is also important to not the Gallaudet also inspired a the next generation in his son, Edward Miner Gallaudet who took after his father as an advocate for the deaf by creating the first College for the Deaf.

Thomas H. Gallaudet

by Heather Meyer | February 20, 2017

Thomas Gallaudet is my favorite in Deaf history for multiply reasons. I see many people stating how Gallaudet brought sign language to America but sign language was already here in many home signs as well as other regional signed systems (i.e. Martha’s Vinyard). What Gallaudet did was bring the Deaf community to a central location to learn as a group and encouraged and advocated more for the formation of a single language ASL which in turn connected the Deaf as a community and culture at large. As an educator of young students, I emphatically enjoy that Gallaudet saw an educational need for a child and put his whole heart, soul, and time into finding the appropriate and best method to educate her. He didn’t try to force his way of learning or communicating like so many others in the educational field can do. He saw a child who needed a different method of communicating, learning, and succeeding and researched, educated himself, and found an appropriate learning/communication avenue. The educational system in America has swings of paradigms that effect so many students. Sometimes, educators try to change things just to say they made a difference without considering the students’ best interest and sometimes educators think they know whats best without researching and looking at each child’s needs. There are many in the history of education that have hurt as well as helped improve our educational system. Howard Gardner in 1983 saw a need for each student to learn using different methods (intelligences) but even before him there was Thomas Gallaudet that saw the need for students to learn differently!


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