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The History of Gallaudet University

150 Years of a Deaf American Institution

David F. Armstrong

Publication Year: 2014

On April 4,1864, President Abraham Lincoln and the United States Congress put into effect legislation authorizing the granting of collegiate degrees by the Columbia Institution for the Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb and the Blind. At this moment, what became Gallaudet University began a century and a half of offering a collegiate liberal arts education to deaf and hard of hearing students. David F. Armstrong’s The History of Gallaudet University: 150 Years of a Deaf American Institution chronicles its development into a modern, comprehensive American university through more than 250 photographs and illustrations. At first a tiny college of fewer than 200 students, Gallaudet’s growth paralleled the emergence of the American Deaf Community and the history of the nation in general. In the same way that the country’s land-grant universities brought higher education to more American students than ever before, Gallaudet offered the same opportunities to deaf students for the first time. Gallaudet mirrored other institutions in addressing major issues of the time, from legislated segregation to the Civil Rights movement that inspired the struggle by deaf people to gain control of the governance of their university. Most critically, this volume details poignantly the evolution of a signed language, American Sign Language, as a language of scholarship at Gallaudet during a time when its use in educational institutions was largely discouraged or prohibited. Through story and image, it traces the historic path that Gallaudet traveled to be recognized as the finest institution of higher education for deaf people throughout the world.

Published by: Gallaudet University Press

Title Page, Frontispiece, Copyright

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

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p. vii-vii

This book focuses on the history of the unique collegiate program that was established in 1864, which still is the only freestanding institution of higher education in the world designed to meet the specific needs of deaf students. It chronicles Gallaudet’s growth from a tiny college of less than two hundred students into a modern comprehensive American...


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p. viii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

April 8, 1864, was a momentous day for the American Deaf community. On that day President Abraham Lincoln signed the federal legislation, passed unanimously by the United States Congress, authorizing the Columbia Institution for the Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb and the Blind to grant collegiate degrees. As a result, deaf people...

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1. Establishing a College for the Deaf, 1864–1910

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pp. 1-36

The entire early history of the Columbia Institution revolves around the actions of one man—Edward Miner Gallaudet, the youngest son of Thomas Hopkins (T. H.) Gallaudet and Sophia Fowler Gallaudet. The elder Gallaudet is renowned as the founder, along with Laurent Clerc and Mason Fitch Cogswell, of deaf education in the...

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2. Growing into a New Century, 1910–1957

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pp. 37-70

The Gallaudet Board of Directors appointed Percival Hall, a graduate of Harvard College and a professor at Gallaudet, to succeed EMG as president, and he took office in September 1910. According to Albert Atwood, who was chairman of the board from 1946 to 1968, the directors would have offered the position to Edward Allen...

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3. From College to University, 1957–1988

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pp. 71-104

In 1955, prior to Gallaudet’s accreditation, the college enrollment totaled 294, including 61 preps, 219 undergraduates, and 14 graduate students. Undergraduates could major in biology, chemistry, mathematics, economics, history, political science, psychology, sociology, art, English, philosophy, business administration, education,...

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4. Deaf President Now, March 6–13, 1988

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pp. 105-126

The Gallaudet Board of Trustees met on Sunday, March 6, 1988, at the Mayflower Hotel in downtown Washington, DC, for its final deliberations on the choice of a new president. Suspicions arose on campus because of the off-campus location, which ran contrary to the board’s usual practice of meeting in the Edward...

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5. Deaf Leadership Begins, 1988–2006

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pp. 127-154

On Monday, March 21, just two weeks after becoming president of Gallaudet University, I. King Jordan appeared before a Senate subcommittee to testify on behalf of the university concerning the report of the Commission on Education of the Deaf (COED). His presence at the hearing created a great deal of interest among...

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6. Reaffirmation and Rebuilding, 2007–2014

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pp. 155-178

The passions surrounding the protests of 2006 seemed to have run their course by the beginning of 2007. All was calm as Robert Davila assumed the presidency on January 2, 2007, and given his history as assistant secretary of education and director of NTID, he was ideally situated to restore confidence in the university. The two most...

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Epilogue: A Sense of Place

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pp. 179-182

Since the earliest days of deaf education in the United States, deaf people have described their arrival at school as finding a home, even though they were among strangers.1 For many of them, their school was the first place where they were not alone in a family of hearing people. Learning American Sign Language and living among other...


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pp. 183-190

Selected, Annotated Bibliography

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pp. 191-194


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pp. 195-200

E-ISBN-13: 9781563685965
E-ISBN-10: 1563685965
Print-ISBN-13: 9781563685958
Print-ISBN-10: 1563685957

Page Count: 208
Illustrations: 25 illustrations, 225 photographs
Publication Year: 2014