Laurent Clerc
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Famous Deaf People
Laurent Clerc:

Laurent Clerc

Co-founder of the 1st school for deaf people, North America and Teacher.
Born: 26 December 1785 La Balme, France
Died: 18 July 1869 at Hartford, Connecticut, United States of America

Louis Laurent Marie Clerc born at La Balme les Grottes, suburb of Isere, France, a town to the northeastern side of Lyon where his father Joseph Francoi Clerc officiated as mayor for La Balme. His mother Marie Elizabeth Candy run a distinctive middle class household, very common for that era. In an unattended moment, the one year old infant Laurent, fell into an open fireplace, injuring his face and head and suffering a lasting cicatrize to the front of his right ear on his temporal bone.

Laurent's parents always believed the injury sustained here has lead to his lack of ability to smell and hear, but in his memoirs he indicated that he was a deaf born. The scar however led to the sign of his name, an “U” hand shape twice downward stroked by the right side of the face. This name sign later became public property in American Deaf Culture and its history and Laurent Clerc the most endeared and esteemed deaf individual in America.

What made this man as famous and popular as he was? He met Thomas Gallaudet in France where the latter convinced him to institute the 1st school for deaf people on 15th April 1817, namely Hartford Asylum for the Education and Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb in Hartford, Connecticut. This school was housed in an old hotel known as Bennett's City Hotel. Mercifully in 1821 the school was relocated to its present physical address and named “The American School for the Deaf” where it still is the oldest surviving educational institution for deaf pupils in the United States of America. Until his death Laurent Clerc was connected to this institution and his character, nature and personage together with his devotion commended him in the hearts and minds of the Deaf Culture in America as the “Apostle of the Deaf” and “Father of the Deaf”.



When The Mind Hears: A History of the Deaf, by Harlan Lane. ISBN 0-679-72023-5


"Autobiography of Laurent Clerc," Chapter III, in: "Tribute to Gallaudet--A Discourse in Commemoration of the Life, Character and Services, of the Rev. Thomas H. Gallaudet, LL.D.--Delivered Before the Citizens of Hartford, Jan. 7th, 1852. With an Appendix, Containing History of Deaf-Mute Instruction and Institutions, and other Documents." By Henry Barnard, 1852