Edward Miner Gallaudet

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Edward Miner Gallaudet
Edward Miner Gallaudet - Brady-Handy.jpg
Edward Miner Gallaudet, c. 1893
Born (1837-02-05)February 5, 1837
Died September 26, 1917(1917-09-26) (aged 80)
Spouse(s) Jane M. Fessenden, 1858-1866; Susan Denison, 1868-1903[1]

Edward Miner Gallaudet (February 5, 1837 – September 26, 1917), son of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet and Sophia Fowler Gallaudet, was a famous early educator of the deaf in Washington, DC. As a youth, he enjoyed working with tools and also built an "electrical machine." He kept birds, fowl, and rabbits, spending most of his time in the city, but also occasionally venturing into the country. He had a fond memory of climbing a hill with his father, and another fond memory of his father introducing the subject of geometry to him. His father died when he was 14, just after he graduated from Hartford High School in Hartford, Connecticut. He then went to work at a bank for three years. He didn't like the "narrowing effect" of the mental monotony of the work, and he quit to go to work as a teacher at the school his father founded. He worked there two years, from 1855 to 1857. While he was teaching, he continued his education at Trinity College in Hartford, completing his studies for a bachelor of science degree two years later.[2]

In 1857, Amos Kendall donated 2 acres (0.81 ha) of land for the establishment of a school for the deaf and blind in Washington, D.C., and asked Gallaudet to come to Washington to help lead this school. Edward Miner quickly agreed and became the first principal of the Columbia Institution for the Deaf.

In 1864, Gallaudet sought college status for the Columbia Institution and got it when President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill into law which authorized the Columbia Institution to award college degrees—a law which was not strictly necessary, but which Gallaudet desired.[citation needed] This first college of the deaf eventually became Gallaudet University.

Edward Miner Gallaudet, 1900

Edward Miner Gallaudet was the president of Gallaudet College/Columbia for a remarkable 46 years (1864–1910), was the head administrator for 53 years (1857–1910), and was the President of the Board of Directors for 47 years (1864–1911).[3] He was a staunch advocate of sign language. He recognized the value of speech training, but also recognized that speech training was not for everyone.

Gallaudet was awarded honorary degrees by Trinity College in 1859 (M.A.) and 1869 (LL.D.), the Columbian University (later George Washington University) also in 1869 (Ph.D.), and Yale University in 1895 (LL.D.).[1]

After retiring from Gallaudet College, Gallaudet returned to Hartford.

A statue commemorating Gallaudet's life and works resides on the campus of Gallaudet University, which was sculpted by Pietro Lazzari.[4]

He is buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery in Hartford.

Edson Fessenden Gallaudet, who was Edward Miner Gallaudet's fifth child (and second child with his second wife Susan) was an early pioneer in the field of aviation, being the first to experiment with wing warping, and the founder of the first aircraft factory in America.


"The same arguments which go to show that knowledge is power, that the condition of a people is improved in proportion as the masses are educated, have their application with equal weight to the deaf..."—Edward Miner Gallaudet, 1864.[5]

"Deafness, though it be total and congenital, imposes no limits on the intellectual development of its subjects, save in the single direction of the appreciation of acoustic phenomena."—Edward Miner Gallaudet, 1869.

"As eternity is longer than time, as mind is stronger than matter, as thought is swifter than the wind, as genius is more potent than gold, so will the results of well-directed labors toward the development of man's higher faculties ever outweigh a thousand fold any estimate in the currency of commerce, which man can put upon such efforts."—Edward Miner Gallaudet, 1870.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b (National Cyclopedia of American Biography, Volume 9, New York: James T. White & Company, 1899, pp. 140–141.)
  2. ^ Boatner, Maxine Tull. 1959. Voice of the Deaf--A Biography of Edward Miner Gallaudet. Washington: Public Affairs Press, p. 174.
  3. ^ http://saveourdeafschools.org/columbia_institution_for_the_deaf_annual_report_1910.pdf
  4. ^ Gannon, Jack. 1981. Deaf Heritage–A Narrative History of Deaf America, Silver Spring, MD: National Association of the Deaf, pp. 332-333 (PDF)(PDF)
  5. ^ http://saveourdeafschools.org/edward_miner_gallaudet_inaugural_address.pdf
  6. ^ http://saveourdeafschools.org/columbia_institution_for_the_deaf_annual_report_1870.pdf

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Position created
President of Gallaudet University
June 22, 1864–June 22, 1910
Succeeded by
Percival Hall