Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet
Co-founder of the American School for the Deaf
Thomas H. Gallaudet’s early ambition was to become a traveling preacher, but after he met 9-year-old Alice Cogswell, the deaf and languageless daughter of his neighbor, Dr. Mason Fitch Cogswell, he agreed to go to Europe to study deaf-education methodologies. In London, he met the Abbé Sicard, Jean Massieu, and Laurent Clerc, and at the Institut Royal des Sourds-Muets in Paris, observed, learned, and practiced—then brought Clerc back with him to found the nation’s first successful school for the deaf. When it opened in Hartford on April 15, 1817, Alice Cogswell was the first enrollee. Gallaudet served as principal until 1830. His youngest son, Edward Miner Gallaudet, would found Gallaudet University, naming it in T. H.’s honor.