A chance meeting between theology graduate Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet and nine year old Alice Cogswell, Gallaudet's deaf neighbor, launched a legacy that continues to this day. The former traveling salesman and aspiring itinerant preacher was engaged by Alice's father, physician Mason Cogswell, to study the methods of the renowned Braidwood family for teaching the deaf.
Gallaudet set sail to Great Britain only to be disappointed with the Braidwood oral method program. While in London, however, he chanced to meet the French educators Abbe Sicard, Laurent Clerc, and Jean Massieu, of the Institut Royal des Sourds-Muets in Paris, who were abroad promoting their success with a manual communication method of instruction.
Impressed with the trio he joined them in Paris and learned as much as he could of the language and their methods. On his return to the United States, he invited deaf instructor Laurent Clerc to join him and, in 1817, they established the first permanent school for deaf children in the States, eventually known as the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Connecticut.
The Gallaudet University Timeline. This timeline, developed by Gallaudet University Archives, traces 150 years of campus history 1864-201: https://www.gallaudet.edu/about/history-and-traditions/historical-timeline