American Annals of the Deaf and Dumb vol.19 no. 2, April 1874.

Edward Miner Gallaudet, 1837-1917. In 1864 he established in 1864 the first college for deaf students.
Edward Miner Gallaudet's father, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, circa-1842, 1787-1851, co-founder of the first permanent school for the deaf in North America.

Research, transcription and comments by Jørgen Malling Christensen.

Illustrations by Sverre Avnskog.


The author of this report was a very important figure in the history of teaching the deaf in America, Edward Miner Gallaudet, 1837-1917. In 1864 he established in 1864 the first college for deaf students, later named after him and becoming the Gallaudet University. Gallaudet was president of the Colombia Institute for the Deaf from 1864 until 1910. He was a strong advocate for the use of signs, seeing signs as the most natural means of communication for deaf people and also the most useful and relevant method for teaching. Further details can be found in Wikipedia.


Interestingly enough, we have found a note written to Rasmus Malling-Hansen, asking him to take care of this American visitor. The note is dated July 23, 1867, and we cannot decipher the sender, but in all likelyhood it is from Malling-Hansen’s Director, Jens Peter Trap. This note happens to be the oldest letter to Malling-Hansen, that we have found so far! See our collection of letters.


Mr Gallaudet’s report starts from the very first stages on Danish efforts to teach the deaf, and in the following transcription I have omitted the first historical part.







     In the Royal Institution the pupils are boarded and taught in one large establishment, while in the articulating school[1] the pupils are boarded in families of the neighborhood, as is done in some parts of Prussia.


     This arrangement for dividing the beneficiaries of the government between the two institutions in Copenhagen was in force in 1867, and was said to be productive of results satisfactory to all parties.


     The success of the efforts to teach articulation in Mr. Keller’s school have been so marked that instruction in this branch has been made an important feature in the Royal Institution.


     Mr. Hansen, the director, expressed to the writer in 1867 the opinion that all deaf-mutes, save the naturally imbecile, could attain to a valuable degree of facility in oral speech and lip-reading. The results of experiments made with pupils pronounced unpromising subjects by the royal commission had greatly encouraged Mr. Hansen in his efforts to impart articulation to congenital mutes.


     An interesting case of combined deafness and blindness existed in the Royal Institution at Copenhagen in 1867.


     The young man, then about thirty years of age, had become blind at twenty, having been born deaf. He conversed intelligently by signs, and made many inquiries of the author in regard to America, expressing his great admiration for our “Monitors”[2].


     His method of reading the newspapers was not a little curious. A small boy, who had only advanced so far as to be able to recognize and form with his fingers the letters of the alphabet, would act as his reader, though knowing absolutely nothing of the sense of what he was conveying from the printed page to the mind of this poor blind mute. Then, when the seeing but untaught mute has spelled the news to his blind friend, the latter would give it back to his reader in the sign-language, thus repaying him for his kindness.


     Provision is made in Denmark for the education, at public expense, and of all poor deaf-mutes in the kingdom.




[1] JMC: By ‘articulating school’ the author means Johan Keller’s school for the deaf, using speech and lip-reading.

[2] JMC: I suppose the ‘Monitor’ was a magazine, published by Mr Gallaudet’s institute.

Georg Wilhelm Pfingsten, 1746-1827. In 1799 he resigned his teaching post and moved to his hometown of Kiel, where he set up an institute for the deaf and dumb with the support of the government. The number of pupils kept increasing and rose to 40. In 1819 the institution was relocated to the city of Schleswig.
Rasmus Malling-Hansen, 1835-1890, headmaster, pastor, inventor and natural science researcher.
Johan Keller, 1830-1884, director of the Kellers institutions.
The letter from 1867 to Malling-Hansen is probably not from his superior Jens Peter Trap. This is what the signature looks like, and it's almost impossible to decipher, but it definitely doesn't say Trap.
The original article.