Skip to main content
Select Source:

Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet

Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet

Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet (1787-1851), American educator, founded the first free school for the deaf in America.

Thomas Gallaudet was born in Philadelphia on Dec. 10, 1787. His family moved to Hartford, Conn., where he attended grammar school. He entered Yale College as a sophomore in 1802 and graduated the youngest in his class and with highest honors. He then tried his hand at law, teaching, and business but finally decided on the ministry. He attended Andover Theological Seminary from 1811 to 1814.

As a new pastor, Gallaudet encountered a deaf-mute child, Alice Cogswell, whose father set about to establish a special school for children like his daughter. Enlisted in the project to formalize this kind of education in America, Gallaudet went to Europe in 1815 to study established systems of symbolic instruction. He investigated the Braidwood method used in London and Edinburgh. Learning of advanced techniques practiced by Abbé Sicard with deaf-mutes in Paris, Gallaudet visited him and mastered his methods. When Gallaudet returned to the United States in 1816, accompanied by one of Sicard's assistants, he began seeking financial support for a school for the deaf and mute which had already been incorporated by the Connecticut Legislature. The school, inspired by the ability of Alice Cogswell to overcome her handicap, opened in Hartford in 1817.

Gallaudet's direction, writings, and public appearances made the school successful. By 1830, when ill health forced him to retire, the school had 140 pupils, and its effectiveness had drawn public notice throughout the United States.

Gallaudet turned down offers to join university faculties or to lead other special schools so that he could devote himself to writing books for young children and promoting popular education. He worked on a speller and a dictionary and wrote Book on the Soul (1831), Scripture Biography (1833), and Everyday Christian (1835). These, along with numerous journal and magazine articles, gained him worldwide recognition.

The care of the insane became Gallaudet's new interest. In 1838 he became chaplain to the Retreat for the Insane in Hartford. From 1837 to 1844 he was also a volunteer chaplain of the Hartford county jail.

In 1821 Gallaudet had married Sophia Fowler, a deaf-mute and former pupil. They had eight children, one of whom, Edward, participated in founding the Gallaudet College for the deaf in Washington, D.C. Thomas Gallaudet died in Hartford on Sept. 10, 1851.

Further Reading

Heman Humphrey, The Life and Labors of the Rev. T. H. Gallaudet (1857), contains many letters, sermons, and addresses. The early chapters of Maxine T. Boatner, Voice of the Deaf: A Biography of Edward Miner Gallaudet (1959), provide a good, illustrated summary. See also Henry Barnard, Tribute to Gallaudet (1852; 2d ed. 1859). □

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Jun. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 20, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/thomas-hopkins-gallaudet

"Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Retrieved June 20, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/thomas-hopkins-gallaudet

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Gallaudet, Thomas Hopkins

Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet (găl´ədĕt´, gô´lə–), 1787–1851, American educator of the deaf, b. Philadelphia, grad. Andover Theological Seminary. In England and France he studied methods of education in schools for the deaf, and in Hartford, Conn., he founded (1817) the first such free school in the United States. He was interested also in many other philanthropies.

See biography by his son, E. M. Gallaudet (1888).



His oldest son, Thomas Gallaudet, 1822–1902, was ordained (1851) as an Episcopal priest. He devoted most of his time to missionary work among the deaf, founding St. Ann's Church for Deaf-Mutes in New York City and the Gallaudet Home for aged deaf-mutes at Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

Edward Miner Gallaudet, 1837–1917, youngest son of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, opened a school for deaf-mutes in Washington, D.C.; the upper branch of this became Gallaudet Univ., which is now partially funded by the U.S. government.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Gallaudet, Thomas Hopkins." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Jun. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Gallaudet, Thomas Hopkins." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 20, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/gallaudet-thomas-hopkins

"Gallaudet, Thomas Hopkins." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved June 20, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/gallaudet-thomas-hopkins

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.