Profile of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet

Gallaudet University was named for a hearing man who brought education to deaf children in America. Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet (1787-1851), who suffered from poor health throughout his life, discovered the world of the deaf when he met young Alice Cogswell. Alice was a deaf child with no language.

Through interacting with Alice, he discovered teaching. On a trip to Europe, he met and brought back the young Laurent Clerc, a deaf teacher, to help him start the American School for the Deaf in Connecticut. He fell in love with and married one of his former pupils, Sophia Fowler, starting a large family of CODAs (children of deaf adults). One of his CODA sons, Edward Miner Gallaudet, grew up to be the first president of Gallaudet University (then under a different name). Thomas Gallaudet's life was short, but he left a legacy of educated deaf people.​​

Biographies of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet

Biographies of Thomas Gallaudet are available both online and in print.

  • A Father, A Son, A University: Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet - This long biography, written for younger readers, is pleasant to read and well-illustrated. It is written by a writer who has written often for the deaf youth publication, World Around You.
  • The Library of Congress also has an archived article, "Life and Labors of Thomas H. Gallaudet" that was published in The North American Review, Volume 87, Issue 181, October 1858. Scanned text and graphics are available on the Library of Congress website.
  • Life of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet - Gallaudet's son Edward wrote this book about his father. No longer in print, it is available online from

A few books have been published about Thomas Gallaudet.

  • World of Knowing: A story about Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet - An illustrated children's book.
  • A Deaf Child Listened: Thomas Gallaudet, Pioneer in American Education, by Anne Neimark. This book is out of print, but is be available through used book dealers.
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