Sophia Fowler Gallaudet

Teacher and advocate

Sophia Fowler began her education in Hartford at the age of 19. Three years later, in 1821, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet proposed to her. Concerned about the disparity of their backgrounds and her lack of education, she ultimately accepted, and became head of a busy household, and an honored personage in the Deaf community. She was known as a gracious hostess. All of her eight children—four girls and four boys—were hearing, but all were native signers. When her youngest child, Edward Miner Gallaudet, accepted the post of principal of the newly-founded Columbia Institution for the Deaf and Dumb and Blind (nowadays the Kendall Demonstration Elementary School), Sophia accompanied him as matron, and oversaw the girls’ education, teaching them household arts (as was customary in those days). She was also an early Deaf lobbyist, enlisting the support of Congressmen in the establishment of a collegiate department—today’s Gallaudet University. She was known affectionately as “Mother Gallaudet” and “Queen Sophia.”

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