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Anagnos, Michael (07 November 1837–29 June 1906), educator of the blind, was born in the remote village of Papingo in the Epirus region of northwestern Greece, the son of a peasant named Demetrios Anagnostopoulos, whose family held a prominent position within the community; his mother’s name is not known. He attended high school in the city of Ioannina and in 1856 entered the National University of Athens, where he took courses in Greek, Latin, French, and philosophy. Shortly after graduating from the university he went to work for ...

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Barnard, Frederick Augustus Porter (05 May 1809–27 April 1889), scientist and university president, was born in Sheffield, Massachusetts, the son of Robert Foster Barnard, an attorney, and Augusta Porter. He attended school at the Saratoga Academy across the state border in New York and then at the Stockbridge Academy, where he was a classmate and friendly rival of ...

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Bonner, Marita Odette (16 June 1898–06 December 1971), educator and author, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the daughter of Joseph Bonner, a machinist and laborer, and Mary A. Nowell. Educated in the Brookline, Massachusetts, public schools, she applied to Radcliffe College at the urging of her high school faculty adviser and was one of the few African-American students accepted for admission. She majored in English and comparative literature and founded the Radcliffe chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, a black sorority. A gifted pianist and student of musical composition, she won the Radcliffe song competition in 1918 and 1922. Bonner also studied German, a language in which she became fluent. During her last year in college she taught English at a Cambridge high school. After graduating with a B.A. in 1922, she taught at the Bluefield Colored Institute in Bluefield, Virginia, until 1924 and at Armstrong High School in Washington, D.C., from 1924 to 1930, when she married William Almy Occomy, a Brown graduate. The couple moved to Chicago, where they raised three children....

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Bridgman, Laura Dewey (21 December 1829–24 May 1889), first deaf-blind person to receive a formal academic education, was born near Etna, New Hampshire, the daughter of Daniel Bridgman and Harmony Downer. Her father, a substantial farmer and pillar of the Baptist church, served two sessions in the New Hampshire legislature. At age two, Laura and her two older sisters suffered an attack of scarlet fever. Her sisters died, and it was two years before Laura was able to sit up all day and three years until she regained her full strength. The illness left her without any sight or hearing and little sense of smell and taste. The speech she acquired before her illness was forgotten....

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Churchman, William Henry (23 November 1818–18 May 1882), educator of the blind, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Quakers Micajah Churchman and Eliza (maiden name unknown). At the age of fifteen his eyesight began to fail, which was attributed to strain from reading and “overstudy” of languages and mathematics. At age eighteen he entered the newly founded Pennsylvania Institution for the Blind as an advanced pupil who had the equivalent of a common-school education but needed specialized training in the skills relevant to the blind, especially writing and reading raised print. A model pupil of the institution, he graduated three years later and spent a year as a teacher there before taking an appointment in 1840 as a teacher of mathematics and music at the Ohio Institution for the Blind in Columbus....

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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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Fuller, Sarah (15 February 1836–01 August 1927), educator and advocate for deaf children, was born in Weston, Massachusetts, the daughter of Hervey Fuller and Celynda Fiske, farmers. After receiving her early education in Newton Lower Falls, Massachusetts, Fuller attended the Allan English and Classical School of West Newton. ...

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Gallaudet, Edward Miner (05 February 1837–26 September 1917), educator, was born in Hartford, Connecticut, the son of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, noted educator of the deaf and principal of the Connecticut Asylum for the Education and Instruction of Deaf and Dumb Persons (now the American School for the Deaf), and Sophia Fowler, a deaf graduate of the Connecticut Asylum. Edward attended Trinity College in Hartford, supporting himself by teaching part time at the Connecticut Asylum, where he continued to work full time after leaving Trinity College....

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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....

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Gallaudet, Thomas Hopkins (10 December 1787–10 September 1851), educator of the deaf, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Peter W. Gallaudet, a merchant, and Jane Hopkins. Gallaudet was a gifted and successful student, graduating from Yale University in 1805. He entered Andover Theological Seminary in January 1812 and graduated in 1814. As a result of health problems that would continue throughout his life, Gallaudet returned to Hartford, Connecticut, where his parents had moved when he was thirteen, rather than accepting a ministerial position....

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Garrett, Mary Smith (20 June 1839–18 July 1925), educator of deaf children and child welfare advocate, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Henry Garrett, a prominent Philadelphia businessman, and Caroline Rush Cole. Little is known of Garrett’s early life. She began a lifelong career in deaf education in 1881 when she was hired by the Pennsylvania Institution for the Deaf and Dumb to teach at the recently established “Oral Branch” (a separate campus where sign language was prohibited). Her younger sister, Emma Garrett, was the head teacher at the time. Mary Garrett had had no formal training in deaf education; her sister however, instructed her in the teaching methods she had learned from ...

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Howe, Samuel Gridley (10 November 1801–09 January 1876), educator of the handicapped and social reformer, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Joseph Neals Howe, a prosperous maker of ropes and cordage, and Patty Gridley. During the War of 1812, Joseph Howe lost money by selling cordage to the federal government for which he received in payment useless treasury notes, leaving his family in straitened circumstances during Samuel Howe’s boyhood....

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Macy, Anne Sullivan (14 April 1866–20 October 1936), special educator, was born Johanna Mansfield Sullivan in Feeding Hills (near Springfield), Massachusetts, the daughter of Thomas Sullivan and Alice Cloesy, farmers. She was known throughout her life as Anne or Annie. Her parents (both immigrants from County Limerick, Ireland) were illiterate, and her childhood was marred by both poverty and misfortune. An attack of trachoma around the age of five left her virtually blind, and she was subjected to frequent beatings at the hands of her alcoholic father. In 1874 her mother died, and two years later her father abandoned his three living children. While her sister Mary was sent to live with relatives, Anne and her brother Jimmie (crippled from a bout with tuberculosis) were sent to the state almshouse in Tewksbury, where Jimmie died a few months later....

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Nitchie, Edward Bartlett (18 November 1876–05 October 1917), special educator and author, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Henry Evertson Nitchie and Elizabeth Woods Dunklee. His life underwent a complete change when at the age of fourteen he became almost totally deaf. In spite of this handicap, he completed his preparatory education at the Adelphi Academy and Brooklyn Latin School (both in Brooklyn, New York) and the Betts Academy of Stamford, Connecticut. Forced by his hearing loss to make adaptations in order to benefit from his teachers’ lectures, Nitchie habitually sat in the front row of the classroom, made extensive use of an ear trumpet, and conducted post-class interviews with his instructors. Using these methods he made excellent grades, and he entered Amherst College in 1895 at the age of nineteen. While at Amherst Nitchie continued to use his adoptive measures effectively; he not only achieved academic success (named Phi Beta Kappa during his junior year, he graduated magna cum laude in 1899), but he also served as the class “Ivy Poet” at commencement, as well as the editor of the ...

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G. Steve Barrilleaux and John W. Schifani

Peet, Harvey Prindle (19 November 1794–01 January 1873), educator, was born in Bethlehem, Connecticut, the son of Richard Peet and Johannah Prindle, farmers. Peet was educated in a country school in Bethlehem and then taught in district schools from age sixteen until 1816, when he entered Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. He entered Yale College in 1818 and graduated in 1822. Shortly after graduation, ...

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Rogers, Harriet Burbank (12 April 1834–12 December 1919), educator of the deaf, was born in North Billerica, Massachusetts, the daughter of Calvin Rogers and Ann Faulkner, farmers. After receiving her early education in local public schools, she attended the Massachusetts State Normal School (later Framingham State College) in West Newton. Following her graduation in 1851, she taught at several country schools as well as at the Westford (Mass.) Academy....

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Russ, John Dennison (01 September 1801–01 March 1881), educator of the blind, social reformer, and physician, was born in what is now Essex (then part of Ipswich), Essex County, Massachusetts, the son of Parker Russ, a physician, and Elizabeth Cogswell. He graduated from Yale College in 1823 and soon afterward went to Brunswick, Maine, where he studied medicine with Dr. John D. Wells, a member of the faculty of medicine at Bowdoin College (Russ did not enroll at Bowdoin, however). He studied further in Baltimore and Boston and in 1825 received the M.D. degree from Yale Medical School. During 1825 and 1826 Russ was in Europe where he served in several hospitals. After his return to the United States he practiced medicine in New York City....

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Seguin, Edouard O. (20 January 1812–28 October 1880), physician and educator, was born in Clamecy, France, the son of T. O. Seguin; his mother’s name is not recorded. He began his education at Auxerre and at the Lyćee St. Louis in Paris. His degree was not in medicine. It is unclear whether his specialty training was in education, physiology, or some allied field....

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Wait, William Bell (25 March 1839–25 October 1916), educator, was born in Amsterdam, New York, the son of Christopher Brown Wait and Betsey Grinnell Bell. After receiving his early education in local public schools and the Albany Academy, he entered the Albany Normal College (now the state University of New York at Albany). Following his graduation in 1859, he took a teaching position with the New York Institution for the Blind in New York City, remaining there until the outbreak of the Civil War. Answering the first call for troops issued by President ...