Currently Gallaudet Archives has no examples of diplomas signed by United States President James Garfield who was president from March until September of 1881.

In his many years in Congress before becoming president, Garfield had been a strong advocate for the institution and was much beloved by the deaf community. He visited the campus in May of 1881, giving what is known to be his last public address, before being assassinated in July at a Washington, D.C. train station (Garfield did not die until September). It is also said that this visit was the only social function outside of the White House that he attended in his short tenure as president. Gallaudet students raised money to commission a bust of Garfield which sits in Chapel Hall. The bust was created by sculptor Daniel Chester French who also made the university’s iconic statue of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet and Alice Cogswell and is famous for his sculpture of Abraham Lincoln which resides in the Lincoln Memorial.

Diplomas were also signed by Gallaudet President Edward Miner Gallaudet, president of the institution since its founding in 1864 until 1910.

During this period, the school was known as the Columbia Institution for the Deaf and Dumb which included the Kendall School primary programs and the National Deaf-Mute College.

U.S. President

Gallaudet President

James A. Garfield

James A. Garfield


Edward Miner Gallaudet

Edward Miner Gallaudet


Gallery of Diplomas Collection

In 1864, Congress passed a bill authorizing the institution, known as the Columbia Institution for the Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb and the Blind, to establish the National College for the Deaf and Dumb which would provide college-level instruction and confer college degrees. On...

National Deaf Life Museum

Resource Type: History

Contact Us

National Deaf Life Museum

Chapel Hall

(202) 250-2235

** By Appointment Only **

Select what best describes your relationship to Gallaudet University so we can effectively route your email.
By submitting this form, I opt in to receive select information and deaf resources from Gallaudet University via email.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.