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Alice Cogswell

By Alexandria "Lexi" Martin


Alice Cogswell was born on August 21, 1805 in Connecticut. Alice was one of the most important symbols in Deaf history.  Alice had lost her hearing at a young age which was caused by an illness. Alice was a very smart girl she enjoyed many hobbies like sewing and dancing. Alice had brothers and sisters but most of them didn't speak to her or even try talk to her because Alice couldn't talk yet. Alice's father was Dr. Mason Cogswell was the first surgeons to removed cataracts form the eyes.

When Alice was 9 years old she met a man that would change everything. He was Alice's neighbor his name was Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet. When Alice sat outside watching to other children play, when Gallaudet had asked one of the children who the small girl was that was sitting and not playing.  The child said that her name was Alice and that she could not hear. Gallaudet when'd to Alice and he started to play with her and cheer her up.

They drew pictures together and then he saw how smart Alice was. Then he wanted to teach Alice how to read and write. It took many years for Alice to learn how to read and write. Alice was the first Deaf student that Gallaudet had ever taught. When Gallaudet was in Europe, Alice was learning and practicing reading and writing. Alice had learned how to read and write so well that she was able to go to a normal school. While Alice was learning and going to school her teacher, Gallaudet went to Europe to learn more about Deaf schools.

Gallaudet came back from Europe with a Deaf man named Laurent Clerc.  They opened the first permanent school for the Deaf in America in Hartford, Connecticut. The School was originally named The American Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb, and then it was renamed the American School of the Deaf. The school opened on April 1817 with 7 students enrolled -- Alice Cogswell was the first.  

Alice was one of the best students. She wrote many papers on religious topics. Alice learned to sign more and more, she was able to communicate easily with other Deaf people and her teachers.  Alice was fascinated on how music works and she loved to dance at her parents parties. As Alice got older she was able to speak out load a few words -- one of the words was "PRETTY". 

Alice graduated in 1824. After she graduated she traveled to many places.  When Alice was 25 her father Mason Cogswell died.  He died on December 10, 1830. After her father died Alice suffered from delirium and died on December 30, 1830. 

People will remember Alice Cogswell for generations to come. At the American School of the Deaf there is a statue of Alice and her teacher Thomas Gallaudet. 




Burch, Susan. "Cogswell, Alice." In Burch, Susan, ed. Encyclopedia of American Disability History. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2009. American History Online. Facts On File, Inc.
ItemID=WE52&iPin=EADH0155&SingleRecord=True (accessed August 4, 2013 from Facts on file History Database Search:


Note:  For information regarding the Reverend Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, see "Reverend Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet."


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