Just across town from the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., stands Gallaudet University, an institute for higher learning for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. In 1864, President Abraham Lincoln signed the law that allowed the school to begin issuing college degrees, a milestone for deaf people seeking higher education. Edward M. Gallaudet (right) was the first principal of what was then referred to as the Columbia Institution for the Deaf, and advocated for the institution to become a college.
The Gallaudet family had a storied history in deaf education. Edward M. Gallaudet’s father, Dr. Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, was part of a trio of men who founded the first permanent school for the education of the deaf in the United States back on April 15, 1817 in West Hartford, Connecticut. The school, known today as the American School for the Deaf, is depicted in this 1881 print which includes portraits of important figures, including Dr. Gallaudet at top center.
Take a visual journey through images related to deaf education over the years from our collections as we mark and celebrate National Deaf History Month!
- National Deaf History Month is observed March 13 to April 15. Revisit this post from the Teaching with LC blog: National Deaf History Month: Exploring Deaf Culture with Library of Congress Primary Sources
- View color photos of Gallaudet University by photographer Carol M. Highsmith.