Timeline: History of Gallaudet and the Deaf Community


1000 BC
             Hebrew law provides that the Deaf have limited rights to property and marriage. These laws
             protects deaf people from being cursed by others but prevents the deaf from participating fully
             in rituals of the Temple.

355 BC
             Aristotle says "Those who are born deaf all become senseless and incapable of reason.”

360 BC
             Plato’s Cratylus, in this, Socrates mentions the use of signs by the deaf. Socrates discusses
             innate intelligence, persons born perfect but without speech gives no sign of intelligence so
             therefore Deaf people are incapable of language and ideas.

99-55 BC
             Lucretius, a Latin Poet who wrote only one poem. In his poem, he wrote “To Instruct the deaf,
             no art can ever reach, no care to improve them, and no wisdom teach.” His one work was titled
             De rerum natura.

77 AD
             Pliny the Elder publishes his Natural History. He mentions Quintus Pedius, the son of a
             Roman Consul. Quintus was a very talented artist who happened to be Deaf. In order to be an
             artist, he had to first receive permission from Caesar Augustus. 

354-430 AD
             St. Augustine wrote that the sins of the parents are visited upon the children. Afflicted children
             are a sign of God’s anger and punishment. Augustine believed that faith cometh by hearing
             and that deafness is a hindrance to faith. However, he believed that Deaf people can learn and
             thus are able to receive faith and salvation. Augustine refers to bodily movements, signs, and
             gestures, and believed that these modes were capable of transmitting thought and belief. He
             implies that it is equal to spoken language in terms of reaching the soul. De quantitate animae
             liber unus

529 AD
Corupus Iurus Civilis or the Justinian Code, developed during the reign of Emperor Justinian,
             was a result of Emperor Justinian's desire that existing Roman law be collected into a simple
             and clear system of laws or "code." The code
denied deaf people the ability to hold and control
             property, make contracts, or write a valid will.

             Rudolf Agricola, a Dutch humanist, believed that the Deaf could communicate via writing. He
             advocated the theory that the ability of speech was seperate from the ability of thought. He
             wrote De Inventione Dialectica.

1501-1576 ca.
Girolamo Cardano was the first physician to recognize the ability of the Deaf to Reason and
             the first to challenge Aristotle's belief that hearing was a requirement for understanding.

             Lasso, a Spanish lawyer, argues that those who learn to speak are no longer dumb and
             therefore have a right to primogeniture (inheritance).

             John Bulwer was a British Physician who studied gestures and published Philocopus, also
             known as the Deaf and Dumbe Man’s Friend in 1648 and Chirologia, also known as the
             Naturall Language of the Hand in 1644. These were the first English books on deaf education
             and language. These books showed the use of manual signs but did not refer directly to the
             sign language of the Deaf. Bulwer also advocated the establishment of a school for the Deaf.

             George Dalgarno, a Scottish Tutor, taught students to lipread, speak, and fingerspell. He
             published conclusions about the education of the deaf in Didascalocophus, also known as the
             Deaf and Dumb Man’s Tutor
which supported the use of fingerspelling and gestures in the
             education of Deaf people.

18th Century
Enlightenment Era philosophers Locke, Rousseau, Condillac debate the nature of language,
             the origin of language and thought, and signs. The Enlightenment Era was a period of spiritual
             awakening and intellectual movement.

Alberti, a German physician, published the first book of any kind specifically regarding
             deafness. Discourse on Deafness and Speechlessness. He stated that hearing and speech
             were separate functions. Alberti believed that Deaf people were rational, capable of thought,
             even though they lacked speech. He showed that the Deaf can read lips, understand speech,
             and read, without the ability to hear.

             Earliest records of Deaf Education occurs in Spain. Melchor de Yebra and Juan Pablo de
             Bonet are prominent during this era. De Yebra was familiar with the hand alphabet used by
             monks sworn to vows of silence. He published those handshapes and publicized its use for
             for religious purposes among deaf people to promote understanding of spiritual matters. Bonet
             reproduced de Yebra’s work in 1620 entitled Simplification of the Letters of the Alphabet and
             Method of Teaching Deaf Mutes
to Speak. He supported oralism but used finger spelling to
             teach speech and literacy. He used this methodology so the deaf could be integrated with
             hearing society.

             Samuel Heinicke establishes the first oral school for the deaf in Germany. 

Abbe Charles Michel de l'Epee (1712-1789) establishes the Royal Institution of Deaf and
             Mutes in Paris. L'Epee supported the school at his own expense until his death. After his
             death, the government began to support the school. His successor was the Abbe Roch
             Concurrou (Curcurran) Sicard (1742-1822). It was Sicard who brought Laurent Clerc and Jean
             Massieu to London where they met Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet. The Royal Institution was the
             first free school for the deaf in the world.

             Thomas Braidwood founded the first British Academy for the deaf.

             Abbe de l’Eppe publishes “Instruction of deaf and dumb by means of methodical signs.”

             Braidwood School is founded in the United States by John Braidwood the grandson of the
             founder of Braidwood Academy. His attempt failed and he moved on to establish a small
             school at the Cobbs planation where he taught the Bolling children. This school closed in

             American School for the Deaf is founded by Mason Cogswell, Thomas H. Gallaudet, and
             Laurent Clerc.

The New York Institution for the Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb is founded.

Pennsylvania School for the Deaf is founded.

            Kentucky School for the Deaf, the first school supported by the state, opens.

            Thomas H. Gallaudet resigns as principal of American School for the Deaf.

Dr. Samuel Howe is the first director for the first school for the blind in the United States which
             later became known as the Perkins School for the Blind. He later taught Laura Bridgman and
             she was the inspiration for Helen Keller.

            Alice Cogswell dies 13 days after her father dies in December. She was 25 years old.

             In St. Louis, Missouri, St. Joseph's, the first Catholic school for the deaf, opens.

             The Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind opens. It is the first school to integrate deaf and
             blind students.

American Annals of the Deaf (AAD) begins publication in Hartford at American School for the

             American Annals of the Deaf first proposes the idea of higher education for the deaf.

             On September 10, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet dies.

New England Association of the Deaf is established at Montpelier, Vermont.

AAD features an article, “The National College for Mutes” by John Carlin.  The first honorary
             degree (and also first degree of any kind awarded by Gallaudet College) was granted to him in

             John J. Flournoy first floats the idea of an independent deaf state sparking a debate in the deaf

Amos Kendall donates 2 acres of land and a house to found a school for the deaf, dumb,
             and the blind.

             On June 13, Kendall School is incorporated as the Columbia Institution for the Instruction of
             the Deaf and Dumb and the Blind on land owned by Postmaster General, Amos Kendall.

             School buildings are used by Civil War soldiers as a hospital for sick soldiers.  The occupiers
             are the Pennsylvania regiment of troops under Colonel Samuel Black.

             The Enabling Act is signed by President Abraham Lincoln. The college was previously
             established as Kendall School in 1857 with Edward Miner Gallaudet as its superintendent.  On
             April 8, 1864, the 38th congress of the United States of America, authorizes the Columbia
             Institution for the Deaf and Dumb and the Blind, to confer degrees in liberal arts and sciences
             that are usually conferred in colleges. Edward M. Gallaudet became the first president and
             continued until 1910. In September, the CIDDB was named the National Deaf Mute College.

             On September 8, the college has a faculty of 5 and a student body of 13 including 8
             preparatory students and 5 collegiate students. The five collegiate were Melville Ballard (1866),
             James Cross Jr., James H. Logan, John B. Hotchkiss, and Joseph Parkinson. (1869). The
             faculty were: Edward M. Gallaudet, Richard Storrs, Rev. Lewellyn Pratt, James W. Patterson,
             and Peter Baumgras. Instruction begins.

The Empire State Association of the Deaf is formed. It is the first state association of the Deaf.

             Melville Ballard is the first graduate of the college.

             Frederick Law Olmsted presents plan for buildings and grounds of the National Deaf Mute

School opens in New York City, becoming the first pure oral school in the country.
             Clarke School soon follows in Northampton, MA.

             North Carolina becomes the first state to provide an institution for the education of black deaf
             children. The school is named
the Governor Morehead School.

             The first regular class graduates. Amos Kendall dies.

             Directors, with five thousand dollars on hand, purchase 81 acres of adjoining property from
             Amos Kendall’s estate for $85,000

             Chapel Hall completes construction. President Grant dedicates the building. Mortgage on
             Kendall Green is paid off with seventy thousand dollars from Congress.

             George Wallis publishes his book; “Language of Touch – a narrative illustrating the instruction
             of the Blind and Deaf Mute” based on a deafblind woman called Mary Bradley.

             Gallaudet purchases the personal library of Charles Baker of England for the college, now part
             of the Archives’ Baker Collection of rare books related to the Deaf.

             The Deaf Mutes’ Journal is established. It continues operation as a popular newspaper of the
             Deaf until 1951. DMJ is renamed the New York Journal in the 1930s. Edwin Hodgson was its
             editor for 53 years and later succeeded by Thomas F. Fox.

             Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone. He also uses his influence to implement the
             practice of ‘oralism’, banning the use of sign language in 1880 at the Milan conference – thus
             restricting communication for the deafblind.

             Henry W. Syle and AW Mann are first Deaf persons to be ordained clergymen in the United

             Sophia Fowler Gallaudet dies. She was born in 1798 and entered ASD at the age of 19 with
             her older sister and a cousin. She married in 1821 to Thomas H. Gallaudet. She had 8 children
             with Gallaudet and became the Kendall School's first matron when her son, Edward was
             invited to be the superintendent of the Columbia Institution. In 1918, the first women’s
             dormitory on campus was named in her memory.

             The National Association of the Deaf is established in Cincinnati, Ohio. The first president is
             Robert P. McGregor of
Ohio, who formed the local committee for the first convention.  The
             conference addresses issues of social change, Deaf education, Deaf Marriage, rights,
             privileges, legislation, support of
Gallaudet College, and the combined system.

 International Congress of Educators of the Deaf meets for the Milan Conference. Gallaudet is
             in attendance. James
Denison is the only deaf person there out of 16 attendees. The
             conference overwhelmingly supports oralism, with the American delegation and Richard Elliot
             the sole opponents to the decision. 

             Episcopal Conference of Church Workers Among the Deaf is established. They met to
             exchange ideas and explore ways of improving the teaching of religion to the deaf.

Construction of the new gymnasium (Ole Jim) is completed. The gym has the nation's first
             indoor swimming pool. Congress funded the construction because Edward M. Gallaudet told
             Congress that physical education and a pool were needed after 4 drownings elsewhere.

             Gallaudet football is officially organized with John B. Hotchkiss as coach. The team record is
             2-0.  The first loss came in 1888 to Navy.

             Bell reads Memoir upon the Formation of a Deaf Variety of the Human Race at the American
             Academy of Sciences in New Haven, CT and to the Conference of Principals of American
             Schools for the Deaf in 1884. Bell is concerned about intermarriage amongst the deaf and
             states that they shouldn’t marry because this would isolate the deaf from hearing society and
             encourage births of deaf children. This sparked debate for prohibition of marriage amongst the

             Construction of Dawes House is completed. Dawes House was designed and planned by Deaf
             architect Olof Hanson, ’86.

             First women admitted to Gallaudet College on conditional basis.

             William Dummy Hoy begins his 15 year career in professional baseball. He is widely attributed
             to for developing the hand count for umpires in baseball. He played for the Cincinnati Reds and
             Washington Senators.

             Alexander G. Bell establishes the Volta Bureau

             The Gallaudet College Alumni Association is organized at the third convention of the National
             Association of the Deaf in
Washington DC. Ballard is elected president, Hotchkiss Vice
             President, Veditz secretary, and Draper as Treasurer.

             Edward Allan Fay rebuts Bell’s Memoir upon a Variety of a Human Race, and does data
             collection of deaf couples in the U.S. 4,471 responses were received and he found that while
             the incidence of deaf children born were greater, the numbers were not significant and not
             equal to Bell’s panic. Fay publishes Marriages of the Deaf.

             On June 26, the statue of Thomas H. Gallaudet and Alice Cogswell, sculpted by Daniel
             Chester French, is unveiled on Kendall Green. Robert P. McGregor said: “With the appearance
             of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet upon the scene, the history of the deaf of this country begins.
             Commanding the highest art of the sculptor, his children of silence have placed his statue here
             in commemoration of his grand work in their behalf. It springs from their hearts; it is worthy of
             them; it is worthy of the sculptor who created it…it is sublime in the nationality, the
             universality of the sentiment which it symbolizes.”

             British Deaf Association is founded.

             Ennals Adams Jr. is the first African-American enrolled at Gallaudet College.

The OWLS is formed.  Before then, women newly admitted to the College were only there on
             an experimental basis. They were few and treated as guests of the college. The men
             considered them somewhat an intrusion. They were left to themselves and not allowed to
             actively participate in extracurriculars at the college. They could not attend Literary Society
             meetings without a female chaperone. The women decided to create a space for themselves,
             to meet socially, provide support, and entertain themselves. Thus they established the OWLS.
             The alumnae was organized in 1910 and the first president of OWLS was Agatha Tiegel

             Alto Lowman is the first woman to graduate. She earns a Bachelor of Philosophy.

             On November 1, the first issue of The Buff and Blue is published.

             Agatha Tiegel Hanson is the first woman to graduate with a four year degree, a Bachelor of
             Arts. She delivers the commencement speech. 

             The Gallaudet College Alumni Association met in Chicago and drafted a petition to rename the
             National Deaf Mute College as Gallaudet College in honor of Thomas H. Gallaudet. The petition
             was accepted and college was renamed in 1894.

             The ground is broken for the Volta Bureau’s building in northwest
Washington. The funds were
             derived from the Volta Prize that Alexander G. Bell won for inventing the telephone.  The Volta
             Bureau's purpose is to become a center to house information on deafness.

             May Martin is hired as the first female faculty at Gallaudet College. She departs the position in
             1900 to marry Henry L. Stafford and dies in 1908.

             Women students establish a basketball team. The first captain was Emma Kershner, ‘97 and
             their record was 3-0. Men students didn’t have a basketball team until 1905.

             Elizabeth Peet comes aboard as female faculty and Dean of Women where she serves until

             The National Fraternal Society of the Deaf is formed as an insurance carrier for Deaf men.
             They establish an auxiliary in 1910 for women and then admits women as full members in

             The Kappa Gamma fraternity is established at Gallaudet, the first permanent fraternity on
             campus. The first Grand Rajah was John Fisher in 1901.

The first electric hearing aid (radio aid) is developed.

             The first football game is played between 2 deaf schools. The
Tennessee School for the Deaf
             and the North Carolina School for the Deaf. North Carolina won 51-0.

             African-American children are transferred from Columbia Institution to
the Maryland School for
             Colored Deaf Mutes in

             On April 7, William Howard Taft overturns Roosevelt’s earlier decision to prohibit deaf people
             from taking civil service exams for federal jobs.

             On February 6, there is a big fire in College Hall causing $25,000 in damages and losses.
             Students, faculty, and the fire department all worked hard to put out the fire. Cold and the
             water fighting the fire turned into ice, encasing the entire building in ice.

             Percival Hall is installed as president of Gallaudet College.  He was a Harvard graduate, in
             1892 he earned a B.A. degree and earned his Master's degree in 1893. He first taught at the
             New York School for the Deaf then returned to Gallaudet in 1895 as a professor of

Alice Nicholson is installed as the first female Editor-in-Chief of The Buff and Blue. The next
             female Editor-in-Chief, Alice McVan, comes in 1927-28.

Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low, a late deafened woman founded the Girl Scouts of America in
             Savannah, Georgia. In 1919, the Illinois School for the Deaf was the first to start a scout troop
             for girls.

             The teens are the beginning of the Sign Language preservation film series with funds raised by
             George Veditz from 1907-1910. Veditz spearheaded this campaign to capture poems,
             lectures, and stories in sign language on film.

             Edwin Nies is the first deaf person to earn a Doctor of Dental Sciences. He earns the degree
             from the University of Pennsylvania.

             Deaf women begin an era of female leadership of state associations. Annie Lashbrook and
             Alice Terry are elected as Presidents of the Empire State Association of the Deaf and the
             California Association of the Deaf respectively. Olga Anderson presides over the North Dakota
             Association of the Deaf.

             September 26, Dr. Edward M. Gallaudet dies.

             Earl C. Hanson patents the first vacuum-tube hearing aid.

first aerial view photo is taken of Kendall Green.

             Known as Garlic Field, the football field is renamed Hotchkiss field.

             The International Committee of Silent Sports (CISS) iss founded on August 16 by E. Rubens
             Alcais of France and Antoine Dresse of Belgium following the first International Games for the
             Deaf which were held in Pershing Stadium in Paris. The first games to take place in the United
took place in 1965 in Washington, DC.

             On January 13, Nellie Zabel Willhite, believed to be the first deaf pilot in the world, soloed.

             Gallaudet had its first Homecoming football game. The first match was against Shenandoah
             College and the game was won 7-6.

             On November 13, a
Liberty ship built by the California Shipbuilding Corporation, commissioned
             for World War II was named the Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet. During the Lend-Lease agreement
             with the Soviet Union, it was named the Maikop. In 1951, it was sold to a private corporation
             and the name was dropped.

             The season of the 5 Iron Men. The team came into the tournament with a 4-11 record, going up
             against schools like Washington College which had a perfect season. The University of
             Delaware and Gallaudet, the last place seeds knocked out the other schools and went for the
             title, which Gallaudet won. The Gallaudet team played with only 5 men and no alternates. They
             had no substitutions and no foul outs. Holcomb, the leading scorer only had 16 points,
             whereas Roberts had 41 points although he had only had 87 points for the entire season. They
             went from only 2 wins to winning 3 straight games and going home as the All- Tournament
             team. 1943 is also known as the year Gallaudet won the pennant. The 5 ironmen were Hal
             Weingold, Earl Roberts, Paul Baldridge, Roy Holcomb, and Don Padden.

             The American Athletic Association of the Deaf is established in Akron, Ohio at the end of the
             World War II era where the Deaf had established a colony in Akron, Ohio, working for
             Firestone and established themselves as workers with good ethics and as good patriots.

             1945 is the beginning of the Elstad Expansion Era for
Gallaudet College. Buildings that were
             erected during this time included the Edward M. Gallaudet Library, Peet Residence Hall, Hall
             Memorial building, Mary Thornberry Building, Gallaudet College (Elstad) Auditorium, Ely
             Residence Hall, Student Union Building, and the Hughes gym. Elstad also modernized the
             administrative staff, established a Registrar, nurse, assistant for Dean of Women, full time
             Librarian, and a Dean of students. He also put all staff under the Civil Service Retirement plan.

             The first deaf aviator to fly coast to coast is Rhulin A. Thomas of
Washington, D.C.

Hall retires as president and Leonard M. Elstad is named as third president of Gallaudet

             The Alpha Sigma Pi fraternity is established on campus as an open alternative to the Kappa
             Gamma fraternity. ASP was founded by Taras Denis, Archie Stack, and Andrew Vasnick.
             Alpha Sigma Pi and Kappa Gamma are both exclusive to Kendall Green. The first president is
             Archie Stack.

Behind the ear hearing aid becomes available. Transistor hearing aid also appears on the

             Delta Epsilon is founded on Kendall Green as the first Greek Letter Sorority for deaf women.
             The founders are Gloria Wojick, Ann Lister, Joan Macaluso, and Eloise Bolen.

Andrew Foster is the first African American graduate of Gallaudet College. He went on to found
             31 schools and 2 centers for the Deaf in Africa. He dies in 1987.

             The Columbia Institution of the Deaf and Dumb is reorganized.
Gallaudet College becomes the
             parent institution, containing the college as well as the Graduate Department and

The OWLS change their name to Phi Kappa Zeta.

             Jewish leaders in the Deaf community organize the National Congress of Jewish Deaf.

             Ida Wynette Gray Hampton is the first African-American woman to graduate from Gallaudet

             President Dwight Eisenhower signs PL 85-905 establishing Captioned Films for the Deaf.

             Maxine Tull Boatner completes Voice of the Deaf, a biography of Dr. Edward M. Gallaudet.

             Stokoe publishes his findings about sign language as a legit language. His publication did not
             attract much attention until it is republished in 1965 with Casterline and Croneberg as
             Dictionary of ASL on Linguistic Principles.

The Junior National Association of the Deaf is established for deaf youths. They hosted their
            first national convention at Gallaudet in 1968.

             The Gallaudet Basketball team plays in its first international game against the University of
             Paris, played under Olympic rules. The match was closely contested but Gallaudet lost.

             Robert Weitbrecht, a deaf inventor, invents the acoustic coupler which is similar to the
             American textphone. The coupler allows people to use typewriters to send messages over the

President Lydon B. Johnson signs
Public Law 89-36, which provided for the establishment and
             operation of a National Technical Institute for the Deaf, on
June 8, 1965. NTID, a federally
             funded institution located on the campus of the Rochester Institute of Technology, is the first
             technological college for deaf students in the world.

             The National Association of the Deaf gives women members the right to vote.

             Dr. N. Judge King is the first African-American faculty hired at Gallaudet College.

             Fred Schreiber becomes the first executive director of the National Association of the Deaf.

The National Theater of the Deaf is established.

             The Laurent Clerc Cultural Fund is presented to Gallaudet. The fund is created by the alumni
             Centennial Fund to promote projects and activities which will lead to the cultural enrichment of
             Deaf people.

             Edward Merrill becomes fourth president of
Gallaudet College.

             The Model Secondary School for the Deaf begins operation through PL 89-694 enacted in
             1966, charged to provide programs for deaf high schoolers.

             The first woman to earn a Ph.D is Nansie Sharpless at
Wayne State University.

             Jerald Jordan is the first American elected president of CISS.

             The National Association of the Deaf hosts the first Miss Deaf America Pageant in
, Florida as part of the 42nd Biennial Convention of the NAD. The first Miss Deaf America
             is Ann Billington who was also Miss Gallaudet.

             Donalda Ammons is the first female Editor-in-Chief of Tower Clock.

             On November 29, President Ford signs PL94-142  into law. The law guarantees each disabled
             child to receive a free, appropriate public education.

             The first Deaf women’s conference is held in Washington, DC at Gallaudet College.

             Line 21 is authorized by the Federal Communications Commission to be reserved for Closed

             The Rainbow Alliance of the Deaf is established. The Alliance is for Deaf Gays and Lesbians.

             The American Association of Deaf and Blind, Inc forms.

            The National Association of the Deaf has its first female president, Gertrude Galloway.

             Phyllis Frelich wins a Tony for her performance in Children of a Lesser God on Broadway.

             Jack Gannon publishes Deaf Heritage. Deaf Heritage is the first community history book
             published by a Deaf author.

             The National Black Deaf Advocates is founded.

             Intertribal Deaf Council is founded for Deaf people of Native American descent.

The Cochlear implant pioneers.

Deaf Women United is founded at the Deaf Women’s Conference prior to the World Games of
             the Deaf in Los Angeles, California.

             Gallaudet becomes a University.

             Marlee Matlin wins an Oscar for her first ever performance. She performs the role of Sarah in
             Children of a Lesser God. Julianna Fjeld wins an Emmy for Love is Never Silent.

             On March 7, Deaf President Now! protestors barricaded the school. The protestors sought to
             overturn a March 6 decision of the Board of Trustees to appoint Elisabeth Ann Zinser as
             president of Gallaudet University. The protestors demanded a Deaf president, the resignation of
             Jane B. Spilman as chair of the Board of Trustees, a majority of Deaf people on the Board, and
             no reprisals against students who participated in the protest. The protest included a march to
             the Capitol. On March 10, Zinser resigned and Spilman's resignation followed on the 13th. Phil
             Bravin took over as chair of the Board and I. King Jordan was appointed the president of
             Gallaudet. The student leaders were Bridgette Bourne, Tim Rarus, Jerry Covell, and Greg

             Deaf Way I, an cultural arts festival of the Deaf community, celebrating artists and cultures
             from all over the world is hosted at Gallaudet University.

             President George H.W. Bush signs the Americans with Disabilities Act into law, protecting the
             right of the disabled to education, employment, accessible buildings, and other reasonable

             The World Federation for the Deaf and Blind is founded.

             Gallaudet University hosts Deaf Way II

             The British Government recognizes British Sign Language as a bona-fide language.

             Gallaudet football enjoys a 9-0 undefeated season under the tutelage of new full-time coach Ed



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