Alice Cogswell was an icon of a deaf culture known for being the inspiration behind the creation of the first public school for the deaf opened in Hartford, CT on April 15, 1817.
Today, we celebrate her 215th birth anniversary (August 31). Alice died on December 30, 1830, at the age of 25 years old in Hartford, two weeks after her father, Dr.Mason Fitch Cogswell to whom she was close, died at age of 70 years old.
You may have heard stories about how Rev. Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet first met Alice, his travel to Europe bringing later with him Laurent Clerc, a gifted deaf teacher from Paris to America, 1816.
Likely most people who visit, work, and/or study at Gallaudet know of Alice Cogswell. A big bronze statue of her with Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet at near the entrance of Gallaudet University since 1889! It was a gift to Gallaudet from the National Association of the Deaf. The renowned sculptor was Daniel Chester French(hearing). His statue was intended to portray the strong bond between teacher and student that transformed deaf education around the world. And deaf people of the world cherish Sign Languages!
As we celebrate the International Day of Sign Languages on September 23rd,2020, library cardholders may borrow books from their local public library about Alice Cogswell and American deaf history, in person or online. If you do not have your library card yet, please call and sign up for one. Please share this with your family and friends.
Deaf Cultural Trivia: How old was NAD when it presented the statue of AliceCogswell and Thomas H. Gallaudet to Gallaudet in 1889? Nine years. And thanks to NAD’s fundraising committee. At that time the GallaudetUniversity Alumni Association of the Deaf was founded.
How old was NAD when it presented the statue of Abbe de L’Epee to St. Mary School for the Deaf in Buffalo, NY in 1930? 50 years. And thanks to NAD’s fundraising committee Over 3,000 people were presented.