“The Father of Deaf Education in America”

ThomasHopkinsGallaudetpicThomas Hopkins Gallaudet (1787-1851) was a renowned American pioneer in the education of the deaf. He helped found and was for many years the principal of the first institution for the education of the deaf in North America. 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.

After graduating from Yale College in 1805, Gallaudet studied theology at Andover. His interests soon turned to the education of the deaf, and he visited Europe, studying in England and France, where he learned the sign method of communication from Abbé Roch-Ambroise Sicard, head of the French Royal Institute for the Deaf. On Gallaudet’s return to the United States in 1816, he and Laurent Clerc established the American Asylum for Deaf-mutes at Hartford, Conn., in support of which the U.S. Congress made a land grant. For more than 50 years this school was the main training centre for instructors of the deaf.

Gallaudet retired from the school in 1830, later receiving an appointment to the first professorship in the United States for the philosophy of education at New York University (1832–33). In his Plan of a Seminary for the Education of Instructers of Youth (1825), he proposed special schools for the professional training of teachers.

In the kind providence of God I was directed to a book Gallaudet wrote for children entitled The Child’s Book on the Fall, which opened a whole new world for me. From the moment I read the first story I was hooked, and I realized that the man who wrote this book had a special gift for communicating spiritual truth in simple language. This was confirmed when I read that story to my two oldest grandchildren a few years ago. They loved it instantly, and asked me to read it again and again.

This led me to search for everything I could find by Gallaudet which enabled us to produce The Child’s Book on Repentance, The Youth’s Book on Natural Theology, The Child’s Book on the Sabbath (written by his closest friend, Horace Hooker) and The Child’s Book on the Soul. A very precious providence went along with the last of these named.

 Childsbookonfallpic      ChildsbookRepectancepic      Childsbooksoulpic     YouthBookNat.TheoPic 

Gallaudet wrote The Child’s Book on the Soul in two parts and I found it difficult to get both parts in a clean usable form. Thus we began the long process of retyping the entire work. When I came to the last chapter of the second part I was left dissatisfied. The book left the reader in a position of knowing the value of their soul, but without the clear remedy found in the Gospel. It seemed that Gallaudet hoped the child would be directed to one of his other books to find that answer. In my mind, the book was incomplete, so I determined to try to write a last chapter that would present the Gospel in a way that would fit the framework of the book.

A problem arose when I realized that two pages were missing from the middle of the original volume, so I had to go online and search for another old copy of the work that would have those two pages. The only copy I could find was a revised edition written about ten years after the original. When that revised edition arrived I was delighted to discover that Gallaudet himself had written an additional chapter to the book that presented the Gospel in a beautiful and powerful way. I was immediately struck with the kindness of the Lord to have those two pages missing from the book, which forced me to search for another copy to complete the project. And then upon receiving the revised edition to see that Gallaudet had been led to see the very thing I had seen: The Gospel Was Missing! I do not know how he came to write that chapter. Perhaps he had been told by others that it was needed, or perhaps he had seen it himself. But for me it came as an answer to prayer, and now it has gone throughout the world once again leading children and adults to learn the lesson contained in our Lord’s words, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but loses his own soul?”


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One Response to ““The Father of Deaf Education in America””

  1. Andrew Myers Says:

    Thanks for your good work in republishing this works and bringing our attention to Gallaudet. He was of French Huguenot lineage as well.

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