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A Fair Chance in the Race of Life

The Role of Gallaudet University in Deaf History

Brian H. Greenwald and John Vickrey Van Cleve, Editors

Publication Year: 2008

Despite its prominence as a world cultural center and a locus of research on deaf culture, history, education, and language for more than 150 years, Gallaudet University has only infrequently been the focal point of historical study. Eminent historians Brian H. Greenwald and John Vickrey Van Cleve have remedied this scarcity with A Fair Chance in the Race of Life: The Role of Gallaudet University in Deaf History. In this collection, a remarkable cast of scholars examine the university and its various roles through time, many conducting new research in the Gallaudet University Archives, an unsurpassed repository of primary sources of deaf history. Pulitzer-Prize-winning historian James M. McPherson sets the stage in his essay “A Fair Chance in the Race of Life,” President Abraham Lincoln’s first statement to Congress championing the rights of all people. The papers that follow scrutinize Gallaudet’s long domination by hearing presidents, its struggle to find a place within higher education, its easy acquiescence to racism, its relationship with the federal government, and its role in creating, shaping, and nurturing the deaf community. These studies do more than simply illuminate the university, however. They also confront broad issues that deal with the struggles of social conformity versus cultural distinctiveness, minority cohesiveness, and gender discrimination. “Deaf” themes, such as the role of English in deaf education, audism, and the paternalism of hearing educators receive analysis as well.

Published by: Gallaudet University Press

title page

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-ix

ARTICLES IN THIS collection are adapted in part from the presentations given at the conference “150 Years on Kendall Green: Celebrating Deaf History and Gallaudet,” chaired by Brian Greenwald. The conference marked the celebration of the sesquicentennial anniversary of the beginning of deaf education on Kendall Green. On February 16, 1857, President Franklin Pierce signed into law an act authorizing federal funding ...

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pp. xi-xii

GALLAUDET UNIVERSITY, located on Kendall Green in the northeast quadrant of Washington, D.C., is a long-standing, complex, and diverse institution. Simultaneously a world cultural center, a locus of research on deaf culture, history, and language, an experimental elementary and secondary school, and the primary higher education home of nearly every American deaf leader for well over one hundred years, Gallaudet’s ...

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1. A Fair Chance in the Race of Life: Thoughts on the 150th Anniversary of the Founding of the Columbia Institution

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pp. 1-11

ON THE FOURTH OF JULY 1861, President Abraham Lincoln delivered his first message to the United States Congress, which he had called into special session to deal with the Civil War that had begun three months earlier. Explaining what the North was fighting for in this war, Lincoln said: “This is essentially a People’s contest. On the side of the Union, it ...

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2. John Carlin and Deaf Double-Consciousness

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pp. 12-21

DU BOIS’S FAMOUS ASSERTION IN The Souls of Black Folk (1903) that African Americans have a double-consciousness, a psychic split brought about by living among a white majority that views them with “amused contempt and pity,” potentially illuminates the psychology of many oppressed people.1 According to Du Bois, black Americans internalize ...

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3. A Legacy of Leadership: Edward Miner Gallaudet and the Columbia Institution, 1857–1864

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pp. 22-32

IT IS SAID THAT any new business will either succeed or fail in its first three years of existence. This seems relevant to the Columbia Institution, whose start-up was indeed a bumpy road filled with financial challenges, operating ordeals, and political machinations. Edward Miner Gallaudet was a young man, only twenty years old, when he began his ...

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4. The Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet and Alice Cogswell Statue: Controversies and Celebrations

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pp. 33-49

IN 1883, AT THE SECOND CONVENTION of the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), held in New York City, C. K. W. Strong, a Deaf member from Washington, D.C., proposed that the NAD sponsor the erection of a bronze statue of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet on the 100th anniversary of Gallaudet’s birth in 1887. The statue would be situated on the grounds ...

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5. Two Views on Mathematics Education for Deaf Students: Edward Miner Gallaudet and Amos G. Draper

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pp. 50-64

ON APRIL 25, 1876, Amos G. Draper, a deaf professor at the National Deaf-Mute College (now Gallaudet University), delivered an oration on “The Influence of Mathematical Studies upon Personal Character.” He gave the speech during the exercises of the college’s regular public anniversary in the District of Columbia. In his presentation, Draper noted that, ...

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6. Douglas Craig, 186?-1936

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pp. 65-84

THE CHILD WAS approximately nine years old, but he did not know his age, could not speak or hear, and could not find his way home. That was the dilemma for an African American boy found on the streets of Washington, D.C., in 1870. New Hampshire Senator Aaron Harrison Cragin just happened to drive by in his buggy that cold wintry night. ...

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7. The Women of Kendall Green: Coeducation at Gallaudet, 1860–1910

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pp. 85-1112

COEDUCATION IN AMERICA was a source of controversy during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, delineating distinct boundaries between those who viewed women’s familial roles as incompatible with classroom education, particularly higher education, and those who saw gender equality in education as an inalienable right. While this issue has ...

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8. The Struggle to Educate Black Deaf Schoolchildren in Washington, D.C.

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pp. 113-131

FOR MANY AMERICANS the chance to obtain an education has been a struggle. Frederick Douglass recounts how during his enslavement his owner’s wife started teaching him to read only to stop after her husband forbade the lessons. At the risk of severe physical punishment he used every opportunity he could find to continue his education.1 For a great ...

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9. George Detmold, The Reformer

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pp. 132-139

GEORGE DETMOLD BECAME the dean of instruction at Gallaudet College in 1952. He was hired with the primary charge of revamping the college program so that it could be accredited within five years. Detmold was able to enact multiple reforms and carry out many changes in the face of controversy and dissension from (mostly hearing) educators at ...

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10. Building Kendall Green: Alumni Support for Gallaudet University

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pp. 140-153

PHILANTHROPIC SCHOLARS, nonprofit organizations, and foundations recently began looking at traditions of giving outside of majority communities. One study stated that philanthropy in the United States was connected to “a relatively small number of White [hearing] families and individuals who enjoyed access to education, owned major businesses, ...

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11. The Power of Place: The Evolution of Kendall Green

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pp. 154-169

DEAF PEOPLE INHABIT a highly visual world; they have a visual and spatial language, a visually centered way of orienting themselves within the world, and a strong cultural bond built around their shared experiences. It should follow, then, that the places they build be completely responsive to and expressive of the unique physical, cognitive, and cultural ...

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12. DPN and the Evolution of the Gallaudet Presidency

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pp. 170-188

During the first 120 years of its existence, Gallaudet University was led by only four presidents. In the next four years, there were four more. The eighth president was named by the Gallaudet Board of Trustees after an historic protest known as Deaf President Now or DPN. Reading about Gallaudet’s presidents while preparing this chapter was a fascinating ...


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pp. 189-194


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pp. 195-198

E-ISBN-13: 9781563684296
E-ISBN-10: 1563684292
Print-ISBN-13: 9781563683954
Print-ISBN-10: 1563683954

Page Count: 208
Illustrations: 1 figure, 17 photographs
Publication Year: 2008