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Crosby, Fanny (24 March 1820–12 February 1915), poet and author of gospel hymn texts, was born Frances Jane Crosby in Putnam County, New York, the daughter of John Crosby and Mercy Crosby, farmers. (Her mother’s maiden name and married name were the same.) At the age of six weeks, she developed an eye infection, for which a man falsely claiming to be a physician prescribed the application of hot poultices; the tragic result was permanent blindness. That same year her father died, and her mother went to work as a maid. Fanny was first sent to live with her grandmother, and later with a Mrs. Hawley, who realized the child’s precociousness and set her to memorizing much of the Bible. Within two years, Fanny had committed the entire Pentateuch (complete with genealogies), most of the poetic books, and the four Gospels to memory....

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Gallaudet, Thomas (03 June 1822–27 August 1902), Episcopal minister to the deaf, was born in Hartford, Connecticut, the son of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, educator of the deaf, and Sophia Fowler. Thomas Hopkins had founded the Connecticut Asylum, a school for the deaf in Hartford in 1817, and Sophia was one of its first graduates. They had little money but their work was well known and brought them into contact with the highest echelons of society. Growing up in these surroundings, Thomas early became interested in education for the deaf and particularly in communication through sign language....