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Arguably, one of the most important persons in Laurent's life and develop as a deaf man is Jean Massieu. From his first day at the Institut National de Jeunes Sourds de Paris, where he was dropped off in the hands of Jean by his uncle, Laurent Clerc, this professor nurtured and influenced Laurent on every level. With this page we begin an exploration of who this man was and his importance in the life of the "Apostle of the Deaf in America". 

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1772  Jean was born deaf in 1772, birthday unknown, in Semens, in southeastern France,  a very small village situated at some leagues south of Bordeaux. He was the second of six (6) deaf siblings, three boys and three daughters. His parents were poor, but hones, the occupation of his father being that vine-dresser. Massieu was the second, if not the young

of the brothers.

1785 Jean was  denied schooling until age thirteen (13) when he met the Abbé Sicard, who enrolled him in the Institute National des Jeunes Sourds de Bordeaux-Gradignan or the Bordeaux School for Deaf Children. Sicard had long established it after having

received lessons from the Abbe De L'Epée. In this same year, Laurent Clerc was born about 600 kilometres away. Jean learned to read and write French, later helping to develop the first formalized French Sign Language

1790-91 Abbe Sicard left Bordeaux, being called to Paris to occupy the place of the Abbe De L'Epée, who died the preceding year at the age of seventy-seven (77). Massieu accompanied his master thither. He was about eighteen (18) years old.


1793-94 Jean was appointed one of the tutors at the Paris Institution. 

1797 Jean was twenty-five (25) years old when Laurent Clerc (11) was brought to the Paris school by his uncle, Laurent Clerc. 


Interestingly, after Jean's death, Laurent Clerc was asked to write about him for the American Annals of the Deaf and Dumb in 1849. You can read this tender and intimate eulogy in two (2) parts (1 and 2) of the series. It is at JSTOR and a free membership is available. 

​​1822 The Abbe Sicard died at the age of eighty (80). After thirty-two (32) of labor alongside Sicard, Massieu left Paris for Bordeaux,  

either on account of his sorrow at the death of his illustrious master, or on account of his being dissatisfied with the changes which took place.

1823 A small school for the deaf and dumb, located at Rhodez, Department de l'Aveyron, in the South of France recruited Massieu. He was fifty-five (55) years old. Soon after his arrival, he was taken by a young lady of eighteen (18) who could speak and was employed at the school. Not long afterwards he married her and they had a son. Not long afterwards Jean was offered a position as principal of a deaf school in Lille. His wife was offered a position as matron of this school of thirty (30) students. 

1836 Laurent visits the school on his trip to France to deposit his son, Francis, in school in Lyon. The couple had lost their son but now had a daughter. 

1846/07/21 Jean died in ​Lille, France. A month before Laurent Clerc returned there for a visit and to deposit his son, Charles Michael in school in Lyon. 

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