Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet

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Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet (December 10, 1787 - September 10, 1851) was an American teacher and the founder of the American School for the Deaf. He founded the school in 1817.

History[change | change source]

Gallaudet was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He went to Yale University. He got his bachelor's degree in 1805 and master's degree in 1808. He wanted to do many things for example, study law or study religion. In 1814, Gallaudet became a preacher.

Gallaudet chose not to become a preacher when he met Alice Cogswell, the nine-year-old deaf daughter of a neighbor, Dr. Mason Cogswell. He taught her many words by writing them in the dirt. Cogswell asked Gallaudet to go to Europe to learn ways for teaching deaf people.

While in Great Britain, he met Abbé Sicard, head of a school for deaf people in Paris, and two of its deaf teachers, Laurent Clerc and Jean Massieu. Sicard asked Gallaudet to go to Paris to study the school's ways of teaching the deaf. Gallaudet studied with Sicard. He learned sign language from Massieu and Clerc, who were both graduates of the school.

Gallaudet asked Clerc to go back to America with him. The two men toured New England and got money to create a school for deaf students in Hartford, Connecticut which later became known as the American School for the Deaf. Young Alice was one of the first seven students in the United States.