Gallaudet University has had many names over the years. This chronology identifies the official name changes and Institutional growth.

  • 1857 – The Columbia Institution for the Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb and the Blind is incorporated.
  • 1864 – A college is authorized and named the National College for the Deaf and Dumb with the signing of the law by President Abraham Lincoln.
  • 1865 – The blind students are transferred to the Maryland Institution for the Blind. The corporate name is changed to Columbia Institution for the Deaf and Dumb. The College name changes to the National Deaf-Mute College. (The corporate name is used when referring to the entire institution, which, at that time, included the National Deaf-Mute College and the Primary Department.)
  • 1885 – The Primary Department moves into a new building and becomes the Kendall School in honor of Amos Kendall.
  • 1894 – The College is renamed Gallaudet College in honor of the Rev. Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet.
  • 1911 – The corporate name becomes Columbia Institution for the Deaf.
  • 1954 – The corporate name is changed to Gallaudet College.
  • 1969 – The Model Secondary School for the Deaf, authorized by Congress in 1966, opens on campus.
  • 1970 – With the signing of Public Law 91-587 by President Richard Nixon, Kendall School becomes the Kendall Demonstration Elementary School.
  • 1986 – Gallaudet College becomes Gallaudet University when President Ronald Reagan signs the Education of the Deaf Act (Public Law 99-371).

In 1856, Amos Kendall, a postmaster general during two presidential administrations, donated two acres of his estate in northeast Washington, D.C. to establish a school and housing for 12 deaf and six blind students. The following year, Kendall persuaded Congress to incorporate the new school,...

National Deaf Life Museum

Resource Type: History

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National Deaf Life Museum

Chapel Hall

(202) 250-2235

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