Reverend Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, LL.D

Is your surname Gallaudet?

Research the Gallaudet family

Reverend Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, LL.D's Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!


Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet

Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Death: Died in Hartford, CT
Immediate Family:

Son of Peter Wallace Gallaudet and Jane "Jeannette" Gallaudet (Hopkins)
Husband of Sophia Gallaudet
Father of Thomas Gallaudet; William Gallaudet; Peter Wallace Gallaudet; Jane Hall; Sophia Gallaudet and 3 others
Brother of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Reverend Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, LL.D

Reverend Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, LL.D., (December 10, 1787 – September 10, 1851) was a renowned American pioneer in the education of the Deaf. Along with Laurent Clerc and Mason Cogswell, he co-founded the first institution for the education of the Deaf in North America, and he became its first principal. When opened in 1817, it was called the "American Asylum for Deaf-Mutes" in Connecticut, but it is now known as the American School for the Deaf.


Gallaudet was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He attended Yale University, earning his bachelor's degree in 1805, graduating at the age of seventeen, with highest honors, and then earned a master's degree at Yale in 1808. He wanted to do many things such as study law, engage in trade, or study theology. In 1814, Gallaudet became a preacher following his graduation from Andover Theological Seminary after a two-year course of study.

However, Gallaudet's wish to become a professional minister was put aside when he met Alice Cogswell, the nine-year-old deaf daughter of a neighbor, Dr. Mason Cogswell. He taught her words by writing them with a stick in the dirt. Then Cogswell asked Gallaudet to travel to Europe to study methods for teaching deaf students, especially those of the Braidwood family in Edinburgh, Scotland. Gallaudet found the Braidwoods unwilling to share knowledge of their oral communication method and himself financially limited. At the same time, he was not satisfied that the oral method produced desirable results.

While still in Great Britain, he met Abbé Sicard, head of the Institution Nationale des Sourds-Muets à Paris, and two of its deaf faculty members, Laurent Clerc and Jean Massieu. Sicard invited Gallaudet to Paris to study the school's method of teaching the Deaf using manual communication. Impressed with the manual method, Gallaudet studied teaching methodology under Sicard, learning sign language from Massieu and Clerc, who were both highly educated graduates of the school.

Having persuaded Clerc to accompany him, Gallaudet sailed back to America. The two men toured New England and successfully raised private and public funds to found a school for deaf students in Hartford, which later became known as the American School for the Deaf. Young Alice was one of the first seven students in the United States. This is where his school began. Even some hearing students came to this school to learn.

In 1821 he married one of his former students, Sophia Fowler.

Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet died at his home in Hartford on September 10, 1851, aged 63, and was buried in Hartford's Cedar Hill Cemetery. There is a residence hall named in his honor at nearby Central Connecticut State University in New Britain.


His son Edward Miner Gallaudet (1837–1917) founded in 1864 the first college for the Deaf which in 1986 became Gallaudet University. The university also offers education for those in elementary, middle, and high school. The elementary school on the Gallaudet University Campus is named Kendall Demonstration Elementary School (KDES), the middle and high school is Model Secondary School for the Deaf (MSSD).

Gallaudet had another son, Thomas Gallaudet, who became an Episcopal priest and also worked for the Deaf.

Gallaudet's father, Peter Wallace Gallaudet, was a personal secretary to US President George Washington, when the office of the President was located in Philadelphia.

Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet was the eldest of 12 children. His younger siblings' names were: Edgar (1789–90), Charles (1792–1830), (unnamed baby, 1793), Catherine (1793–1856), James (1796–1878), William Edgar (1797–1821), Ann Watts (1800–50), Jane (1801–35), Theodore (1805–85), Edward (1808–47) and Wallace (1811–16).[10] William Edgar Gallaudet graduated from Yale with a B.A. in 1815.


Just days before his death, Gallaudet received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the Western Reserve College of Ohio.

Gallaudet University took the Gallaudet name in honor of him in 1894.

A statue of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet and Alice Cogswell created by Daniel Chester French sits at the front of Gallaudet University.

A memorial honoring the 100th anniversary of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet's birth was erected in 1854 at the American School for the Deaf.

A Great Americans series 20¢ postage stamp was issued by the United States Postal Service in 1981 to honor him.

view all 11

Reverend Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, LL.D's Timeline

December 10, 1787
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Age 34
Age 36
Age 39
Age 39
Age 41
Age 43
Age 45
February 5, 1837
Age 49
September 10, 1851
Age 63
Hartford, CT