MSS 117
Gallaudet, Dr. Edward Miner, 1837-1917
Papers of Dr. Edward Miner Gallaudet, 1851-1984
Gallaudet University Archives

Descriptive Summary
Repository: Gallaudet University Archives
Call No.: MSS 117
Title: Papers of Dr. Edward Miner Gallaudet, 1851-1984
Quantity: 4.5 Linear Feet (9 document boxes)
Note: This document last updated 2005 December 7.
Administrative Information
Acquisition Information: The Gallaudet Family gave the Dr. Edward Miner Gallaudet Papers to the Gallaudet University Archives throughout the years. Dr. Maxine Tull Boatner also gave some of the papers.
Processed by: Michael Olson. 2000.
Processing Note: Conditions on Use and Access: This collection is open to the public with no restrictions. Photocopies may be made for scholarly research.
Related Material in the Archives:

Biographical Sketch
Dr. Edward Miner Gallaudet was born on February 5, 1837, in Hartford, Connecticut, and was the youngest of eight children. His father, Rev. Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, was one of the founders and first principal of the American School for the Deaf in Hartford. Edward’s mother, Sophia Fowler, was deaf and had been a pupil of Rev. Gallaudet. When Edward was young, his father asked him what his plans for the future, he replied that he would like to become a businessman and work in a bank. His father encouraged him to become a teacher of the deaf. Edward decided to stick to his future plans. After Rev. Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet’s death on September 10, 1851, Edward changed his mind and decided to become a teacher of the deaf. He attended Trinity College in Hartford to complete his education. He was offered a teaching position at the American School in 1855.

In 1856, Amos Kendall, a wealthy businessman, offered Edward to become a superintendent of a newly founded school for the deaf in Washington, DC, and he accepted the offer without hesitation. In 1857, Edward became the first superintendent at the age of 20, and his mother, Sophia, came to live with him to assist in managing the school.
Edward married Jane Melissa Fessenden on July 20, 1858, and had three children – two daughters and a son who died shortly after birth. Two daughters were Katherine and Grace, and they grew to womanhood. Jane died after a long illness on November 23, 1866. Edward married Susan Denison on December 22, 1868, and had five kids-three sons and two daughters.
In 1864, a new college named “National Deaf-Mute College” was established by an act of Congress, and President Abraham Lincoln signed the bill during the darkest days of the Civil War. Dr. Edward Miner Gallaudet was the first president of the college at the age of 27. Edward was involved tirelessly in activities with Congress to obtain funds through appropriations for the college. He succeeded in getting funds to support students’ tuitions, the operation of the college, and the erection of new buildings.
Edward wrote many articles on education for the deaf, on the philosophy of sign language, and various subjects related to the deaf. Edward opposed Alexander Graham Bell on the authority of using the sign language and oral method for the deaf children. Edward attended many conventions related to the education of the deaf. He attended the Milan Congress of 1880 in Italy, where he witnessed the change of the sign language system into an oral method for deaf children.
Edward was a teacher, advocate, writer, lecturer, and a friend of the deaf during his lifetime. He retired from Gallaudet College in 1910 and lived in Hartford until his death on September 26, 1917. For more detailed biographical information, see Gallaudet Encyclopedia of Deaf People and Deafness. Also, there is an excellent, detailed biography of Dr. Gallaudet written by Maxine Tull Boatner entitled “Voice of the Deaf, A Biography of Edward Miner Gallaudet.” There is a biographical file on Dr. Edward Miner Gallaudet in the Gallaudet Archives.

Scope and Content
The Dr. Edward Miner Gallaudet Papers consist of correspondence, biographical information, articles, certificates, genealogical information, plays/scripts, poems, receipts, recipe book, diaries, speeches, pamphlets, and sermons. Dr. Gallaudet was the first superintendent of the Columbia Institution for the Deaf and Dumb from 1857 to 1864. He was the first president of the National Deaf-Mute College from 1864 to 1910. In 1894, the college name was changed to Gallaudet College in honor of his father, Rev. Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet.

The collection, which consists of approximately 3,825 pages, dates from 1851 to 1984. The bulk of the collection consists of articles, letters, publications, and sermons. The bulk dates are mostly between 1856 and 1910, during Dr. Edward Miner Gallaudet’s presidency between 1864 and 1910. The strength of the collection is centered mostly on speeches, sermons, and letters.
The largest subject in the collection is focused on the education of the deaf and his lectures on various subjects related to the deaf. Dr. Gallaudet wrote many articles related to the deaf and gave his speeches to different organizations. He also gave his lectures to his student body and faculty of Gallaudet College. An index to the Addresses and Lectures is included. The collection includes the sermons he delivered to the student body between 1866 and 1906. Included in the collection is an index to titles of sermons and historical information on this subject.

In Series 3, Dr. Gallaudet corresponded with his associates and friends between 1856 and 1917. Correspondents were Alexander Graham Bell, President Grover Cleveland, Senator Henry L. Dawes, Julian Pauncefote, President James A. Garfield, John Hay, Amos Kendall, and other notable persons. In Series 4, included in the collection, there are copies of letters from other repositories. In the early 1980s, David de Lorenzo wrote to the repositories to find out if their holdings contain Edward Miner Gallaudet’s letters. The repositories sent copies of Gallaudet’s letters for our collection.

Series Descriptions
See Scope and Content
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