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Louis Laurent Marie Clerc

From a small boy in rural France to the US Congress, the story of Laurent Clerc is an incredible journey. Join us in exploring this amazing story.

1770-1814 Joseph Clerc, father of Laurent, was mayor and notary of the Royal Commissary in La Balme, part of a 400 year unbroken chain of Clerc family members as mayor. From the 15th century, the males in the Clerc family had served the king through the office of Tubelion or the Royal Commissary.

1785.12.26 The birth of Louis Laurent Marie Clerc in La Balme, a small village in the Canton of Cremieu, Department of Isere, toward the south of France. It is noted for its grotto, called, "Lagrottee de Notre Dame de la Balme"."His mother, Marie-Elisabeth Candy, was born into the bourgeoisie of Crémieux. At the request of his godfather, also named Laurent, only the child’s second name would be used.

1786 Laurent's origin story has him falling into fireplace at the family home. Laurent obtained his scar on his right cheek which would determine his name sign years later. Laurent was said to have lost his sense of smell and hearing. However, there is evidence that he might have been deaf from birth.

1785.12.29 Laurent was baptized at the L’église Saint-Pierre in La Balme-les-Grottes, France

1786 He may have been born deaf, but his parents supposed that his deafness was caused by his fall. Laurent later wrote "When I was about a year old, I was left alone for a few moments on a chair by the fireside, and it happened, I know not how, that I fell into the fire, and so badly burned my right cheek, that the scar of it is still visible; and my parents were under the impression that this accident deprived me of my senses of hearing and smelling."

1788 A disastrous year in France. In August, France declared financial bankruptcy. The Estates General, the legislative assembly representing the three French orders (clergy, nobility, and third-state) were convened in 1789. The winter of 1788-89 is particularly cold. The harvests were very bad and the people were hungry. 

1789 The Revolution breaks out in France, symbolized by the storming of the Bastille on July 14. It is the end of the Old Regime. The king is deposed. Joseph Clerc is ruined.  His son Laurent stayed in the village and received no education at all.


1789.12.23 The death of the Abbé de l’Épée. His funeral took place the next day in the Saint-Roch church where he officiated. The Abbé Roch-Ambroise Sicard became his successor as head of the school for deaf-mutes, the “Institution Nationale des Jeunes Sourds de Paris”

1790 A former pupil of the Abbé de l’Épée, named Cyrille Michel, passes through La Balme. Hoping to be a tutor, he stopped at the Clerc’s. Their fortune gone, the family can’t afford to pay him, and he leaves for Moûtiers, a small city in the Alps in the hope of creating a school for deaf children. A doctor from the city of Lyon tried to “cure” Clerc of his deafness by injecting liquids into his ears.  Clerc would later write that he suffered mightily from the “treatment” and that the attempt was abandoned.

1792 Laurent recalled "When I was seven years, my mother hearing that a certain physician in Lyons could cure deafness, took me thither. The doctor, after examining my ears, said he thought he could make me hear, provided I would call at his office twice a day for a fortnight. My mother agreed to take me, so we called regularly every day and the doctor injected into my ears I do not know what liquids, but I did not derive any benefit whatever from the operation. And at the expiration of the fortnight I returned home with my mother still as deaf as I was before."

1792.08.22 Eliza Crocker Boardman, Clerc's future wife, was born in Bennington, Vermont.

1792.08.26 Abbé Sicard was arrested by the revolutionaries. The students of his school mobilized on his behalf and succeeded in getting him released, enabling him to escape the tragic and bloody September massacres.


1793.01.21 King Louis XVI was guillotined. On October 16th Queen Marie Antoinette was guillotined. The city of Lyon was bombed. Beginning of the French revolutionary calendar, with the year beginning on September 22 and no longer on January 1. This calendar would eventually be abandoned in 1806. Laurent Clerc expressed himself through family-created “home signs.”


1794 The “Institution Nationale des Jeunes Sourds de Paris” was installed in the old seminary building called Saint-Magloire on the rue Saint-Jacques in Paris. Prospective students had to be at least nine years old, rules stipulated.


1797.03 Laurent Clerc (age 12) arrived at the Institution for the Deaf in Paris. His uncle and godfather, also named Laurent, brought him and left little Laurent at the school, believing that admission was free. He eventually paid his tuition. The Abbé Sicard was the superintendent and he took Laurent under his supervision, taught his Sign Language Française, to draw, to compose and work in the printing office. He later trained him as a tutor. Laurent remember that his " father being unable to absent himself from home on account of the duties of his office, at his earnest request, my uncle, Laurent Clerc, took me to Paris, and the next day I was placed in the Institution for the Deaf and Dumb. I did not see the Abbé Sicard, but I learned afterward that he was in prison for a political offense. Mr. Massieu, deaf and dumb like myself, was my first teacher, and when the Abbé Sicard was set at liberty and had resumed the superintendence of the Institution, he took me into his class, and I was with him ever after."

1799.08.1 After many letters sent by his godfather to the authorities, a scholarship was finally awarded to Laurent, in view of documents justifying the poverty of his parents. Clerc met Jean Massieu at the school and the two boys became friends.  Clerc met René Dunan, born in 1793, from Nantes, a large city not far from the sea in the southwest of France. René Dunan created a deaf school in his parent’s home in 1824. 

1799.11.09 There was a coup d’état de 18th Brumaire year VIII (Revolution Calendar) at the instigation of Napoléon Bonaparte. It was the end of the Directory. The Consulate was installed.

1799 The Abbé Sicard was finally allowed to return to the institution of the deaf in Paris.Over the next few years, Laurent began to study Catechism and attended the school’s printing workshop.

1805 Laurent (age 20) learned to draw and to compose in the printing office of the Institution till 1805.


1805 Laurent (age 20) was promoted "When I was employed as a tutor on trial" just eight years after entering the school Laurent.

1805.08.18 Laurent Clerc’s (age 20) communion occurred and his confirmation two days later. Both ceremonies took place in the church of Saint-Eustache in Paris,_Paris. They mark the end of Clerc’s schooling, and he leaves for vacation with his family in La Balme. At the end of summer, when the new school year began, he started work as a “repeater” (teacher assistant) in his friend Massieu’s classroom, with a salary of 500 francs (Massieu’s salary was 1,200 francs).

1805.08.31 Alice Cogswell is born in Hartford, CT.

1806 Laurent (age 21) was hired as a teacher. His salary was about $200.00 a year. Laurent wrote that "in 1806 appointed a teacher with a salary of about two hundred dollars. In process of time, Mr. Sicard thought me capable of teaching the highest class, and I occupied that place when Mr. Gallaudet came to Paris. But before speaking of him more at length, let me say how I happened to make Mr. G's acquaintance. was chosen to become a "tutor on trial."

1806 At the age of 21, Laurent was made a teacher of the highest class for a salary of $200 a year. 

1807.06.24 Abbé Sicard sent a letter to the Ministry of the Interior requesting that Laurent (age 22) be officially named a repeater (teacher assistant). In his letter he specified “that it would be impossible to find a repeater of equal merit to Laurent Clerc”. Clerc’s promotion happened at the same time as that of Laurine Duler, a young hearing woman, who became, three years later, principal of the school for deaf-mutes in Auray (department of Morbihan in little Brittany) and then, in 1817, of the deaf school in Arras (department of Pas-de-Calais, north of France).

1808 "Clerc had the opportunity to go to St. Petersburg, Russia, to help run a new school for deaf students. The proposed director of the school, Jean-Baptiste Jauffret, knew little of deaf people or sign language, so Clerc urged Sicard to let him accompany Jauffret to Russia. To Clerc’s elation, Sicard agreed. However, the Russians provided funds for only one person, and Clerc reluctantly gave up the idea."

A Mighty Change: An Anthology of Deaf American Writing, 1816-1864, Christopher Krentz


1809.07.24 The first public meeting in Toulouse, France, where the Abbé Sicard introduced his pupil Laurent (age 24) in public lectures.

1812.06.30 Laurent receives a letter (in French) from an unknown person about what are good  from religious practices and behaviour.

1814.03.30 Allied Powers entered Paris.

1814.05.29  Monsieur Raverot sends a letter (in French) to Laurent Clerc asking him to accompany his sister around Paris.  

1814.06.26 Laurent sends a letter (in French) to his uncle in Lyons, France which includes family news and discusses money troubles.

1815.03 Napoleon returned from the island of Elba.

1815.05.28 During the spring political upheavel in France, the Abbe Sicard, accompanied by his two teachers, Massieu and Laurent (age 30), journeyed to London and gave several public lectures in that city, explaining his method of teaching the deaf, which he illustrated by the attainments of the two deaf teachers who had been his pupils. It so chanced that Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet had been in London at that time and had attended one of these public exhibitions. At the conclusion of the lecture he was introduced to the Abbe Sicard and his assistants and was cordially invited to visit the Institution at Paris. Dr. Gallaudet was quick to accept the invitation and in the spring of 1816 journeyed to Paris. Laurent reported "Mr. Sicard was so afraid that Napoleon would deprive him of his honors, that he accepted an invitation to visit England in order not to be in Paris while Napoleon was there. He took Mr. Massieu and myself along with him."

1815 Laurent "arrived at London during the last days of May" in the company of Sicard and Massieu.1815.06.02 They had "our first exhibition on the 2d of June. [Footnote: The questions and answers of Massieu and myself at these public exhibitions were published.] We gave two a week, and they were generally attended by princes, members of both houses of parliament, and other distinguished individuals of both sexes, among whom were the Duke of Kent, the Duke of Orleans, (since Louis Philippe,) and her grace, the Duchess of Wellington. Little did I anticipate, at that time, the total defeat which Napoleon was to experience by the combined armies of Europe, under the command of her illustrious husband, the Duke of Wellington. I had the mortification of being present at the house of lords when the prince regent came in person, to announce to both houses the Battle of Waterloo and the flight of Napoleon. I also witnessed the illumination of the city in the evening, and the joy that this event caused to the English!" Apparently, Brighton was the town that many French monarchists fled to during the onset of the French Revolution. Therefore it must have had a well oiled transportation system between England and France.

1815.07.03 Laurent presented the famous Gratitude speech during one of Sicard's demonstrations. Clerc asked "What is gratitude?" in front of an audience composed of individuals of the highest standing in the social and political circles of England in London, England.

1815.07.08 In London, THG visited with the secretary of the Abbe Sicard, Mr. Sievrac, and introduced himself. He was in the room with the Abbe, Clerc and Massieu. Got a commitment for future lesions in Sicard’s method and tickets to remaining demonstrations. 


1815.07.10 At 2 p.m. THG went to Sicard’s one (1) hour lecture where afterwards there was some exhibition of the talents and acquisitions of his pupils Massieu and Clerc. Sicard offered to teach Gallaudet his method of instruction.

1815.07.20 Gallaudet attended another presentation. Sicard again offered to teach Gallaudet his method for free in France.

1815.07.22 Laurent and Jean Massieu presented a demonstration of the Paris method. This was recorded in a pamphlet and printed in London.

1815.07.25 and 29 Sicard's group made presentations in the port of Brighton, England.

1815.07.29 Clerc returned to France from Brighton, England with his companions aboard the sailing vessel "Eliza".

1815.11.10 Thomas Gallaudet says "as the political state of France is apparently in a very unsettled state, and as the season of the year is considerably advanced, I have concluded to spend a few months in Edinburgh, before finally concluding to proceed to Paris." He was to read the Abbe Sicard’s treatises on the instruction of deaf mutes and endeavor also to acquire a great familiarity with the French language that he now has, to derive all the instruction from the Abbe with he needed, and by spring it would probably be determined what the state of France would be, so that he could with more safety that at present decide on the expediency of going thither or not. 

1816 Joseph Bonaparte, older brother of Napoleon was living in exile in New Jersey. He sent a letter that seemed to be in response to one that Laurent had written. It discussed Bordentown and a newspaper article.


1816.01.01 Laurent wrote a letter to the Abbe Sicard (in French) sending good wishes for the new year and gave some reflections on the year past.

1816.02.12 Thomas Gallaudet leaves Edinburgh for London.

1816.03.05  In the spring, Thomas Gallaudet according to his promise, came to Paris from London.

1816.03.11 A Mr. Warder promised  to accompany him to see Sicard with a letter of introduction. 

1816.03.12 This morning Thomas Gallaudet called on Abbe Sicard, who promised him every facility and invited him to attend his public lecture on Saturday next. Likely containing Clerc.  

1816.03.16 THG attended this lecture and found it “interesting”.

1816.03.18 Thomas Gallaudet visited with Abbe Sicard this morning. He had appointed three (3) days in the week, on which he was to attend him for the sake of receiving instruction. 

1816.03.19 That morning Thomas had another interview with the Abbe Sicard and was also introduced by him to one of his assistants, and to his famous pupil Massieu. His plan was to have Thomas proceed regularly through the classes in their order, till he made himself master of the whole system, and on Thursday he was to commence with the first class.


1816.03.21 THG started his daily classroom lessons. Likely included those of Clerc. 

1816.04 Laurent's father, Joseph Francis Clerc died several months before Laurent (age 31) sailed to America.

1816 In the Spring, Thomas Gallaudet was asked to give a discourse on various points of Christian faith and practice, most of which were delivered in the Chapel of the Oratoire, in Paris. In it Thomas mentions "Most of them were delivered while I was prosecuting in Paris, under the auspices of the venerable Abbé Sicard and his interesting Pupil, Clerc, my present fellow-labourer, the object of qualifying myself to instruct an unfortunate and too long neglected portion of my countrymen, the Deaf and Dumb."  It was published in Hartford in 1818.


1816.04.08 Thomas Gallaudet commenced his first week of private lessons with Massieu, which he received for an hour every day.


1816.04.16 THG Started his daily private  lessons with Massieu. 

1816.04.20  THG is approached by Clerc, who sees that it will take too long for THG to learn the method, so he proposes going to America with THG. 

1816.05.20 By the middle of May, Gallaudet "wished very much he could obtain a well educated deaf and dumb young man to accompany him to America." Laurent recommended several but apparently Gallaudet "had already made his choice, and that I (Laurent) was the person he preferred." Laurent was astonished but said he "would not hesitate to go if I could do it properly." Laurent suggested that he write Sicard but there was silence. Laurent approached Sicard but he was hesitant but finally agreed. See the story when Laurent writes about it during a tribute to Thomas Gallaudet and recorded by Henry Barnes.

1816.5.27 Abbe Sicard writes that he approves of Laurent’s request.

1816.06.01 Laurent reports that he "started for Lyons on the 1st of June, after having promised Mr. Gallaudet to return a few days before the appointed time for our voyage."


1816.06.12 Laurent had to return from La Balme to Paris and he "bade herself, my brother and sisters and friends, adieu."

1816.06.14 Clerc returned from Lyons. 

1816.06.15 Clerc and THG leave Paris for the port of Havre. 

1816.06.16 While awaiting the departure of the "Mary Augusta" Laurent signed a contract with Thomas Gallaudet to teach at the Hartford Asylum. The contract was signed by a  S. V. S. Wilder, who was a significant person in Laurent's life as the had apparently guaranteed Laurent's first year salary if something went wrong with the founders of the school in Hartford.

1816.06.16 The Abbe Sicard wrote (in French) to Bishop Cheverus of Boston. It was a letter of introduction for Laurent Clerc to America and his concerns about Laurent's exposure to Protestant New England. 

1816.06.18 With Mr. Gallaudet, Mr. Clerc left France on the 18th of June, , in the ship "Mary Augusta". Owing to adverse winds and frequent calms, the voyage lasted fifty-two days. During that time, Clerc taught Gallaudet method of signs for abstract ideas and Dr. Gallaudet taught Clerc the English language. The voyage is chronicled by Laurent himself in a diary, "Diary Of Laurent Clerc's Voyage From France To America In 1816". The diary was handed down to Francis Clerc Ogden great great grandson who donated it to the American School for the Deaf and then given to the Yale University Manuscripts and Archives by Guy Bryan Holt.

1816.06.24 A "founding meeting" for the new school for the Deaf took place at the Bennett City Hotel in Hartford, CT.


1816.08.09 After 52 days at sea, Laurent arrived in the morning at New York City.


1816.08.21 Laurent and Thomas left for New Haven, CT where they visited Yale University, met with some professors, visited the library and chapel before meeting with President Dwight 


1816.08.22  Laurent and Thomas the took the stage to Hartford, CT where we arrived in the afternoon and alighted at Dr. Cogswell's house on Prospect street.

1817 Laurent Clerc states "other institutions may, therefore,be establish until at last, not a deaf and dumb adult in the United States may remain uneducated..."

1817  In April Laurent prepared an address which was delivered by Dr. Gallaudet at the Center Church in Hartford before an assembly of the Governor and both houses of the Legislature of Connecticut and a crowd of citizens. In this paper which dealt with a public examination of the pupils, Clerc showed complete familiarity with the theory and practice of the Abbe de l'Epee and that of his successor, Sicard. He urged that public support for the impartation of education to deaf children be broadcast. Thus began a series of travels over the New England and Middle Atlantic states in which Clerc's assistance was invaluable in raising funds to establish the first free school for the deaf in America.

1817.04.15 Laurent helped open the Connecticut Asylum for the Education and Instruction for the Deaf  in the Old City Hall, 54 Prospect Street and now called The American School for the Deaf, the first permanent school for the Deaf in Hartford CT, in the Old City Hotel on 54 Prospecdt Street, with Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet as its first principal and Laurent Clerc as its first teacher. The first class had 7 students that included Alice Cogswell, George Loring and Wilson Whiton. In addition to his duties as teacher, Clerc assumed the added duties of instructing Gallaudet and new teachers in methods of instructing the deaf and also in the sign language.

1817 Laurent stated "...other institutions may, therefore, be established until at last, not a deaf and dumb adult in the United States may remain uneducated...".

1818.01.07 Laurent Clerc and Henry Hudson, President of the Board of the Connecticut Asylum for the Educationand Instruction for the Deaf visited the United States Congress and conferred with Senators and House Representatives, including Spearker of the House, Henry Clay.

1818.01.08 Clerc appeared before the US Congress. "Clerc visited Congress with board member Henry Hudson to seek additional financial assistance for the school. Henry Clay, the speaker of the House, seated Clerc beside him, and during a recess Clerc conversed in writing with congressmen, in both French and English. The next day, Clerc visited President Monroe in the White House."

A Mighty Change: An Anthology of Deaf American Writing, 1816-1864, Christopher Krentz

Laurent Clerc and Henry Hudson were also introduced by the French Ambassador to the United States and President James Monroe at the new renovated White House. The original White House was burned down by the British during the Ward of 1812. They discussed the education of the deaf children and adults.

1818.04.10 A letter was written by Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet to Laurent that spoke of their  friendship, business matters, meeting associates, books for pupils and looking for teachers for the Asylum.

1818 In France, one of the students of the Abbe Sicard, a M. Pissin translated the speech that Laurent gave on May 28th into French. In was printed in both Geneva and Paris

1818.05.29 Laurent's mother, Elizabeth Candy Clerc died in La Balme, France.

1818.07 or .08  It was reported in the Proceeding of the Third Convention of the New England Gallaudet  Association of Deaf-Mutes that in "the summer of 1818, a young Chinese man passed through Hartford, Conn. He was so ignorant of the English language that he could not express in it his most common wants. The Principal of the Asylum invited the stranger to spend an evening within its walls, and introduced him to Mr. Clerc, an assistant teacher in the Asylum. The object of this introduction was to ascertain to what extent Mr. Clerc, who was entirely ignorant of the Chinese language, could conduct an intelligible conversation with the foreigner by signs and gestures merely. The result of the experiment surprised all who were present. Mr. Clerc learned from the Chinaman many interesting facts respecting the place of his nativity, his parents and their family, his former pursuits in his own country, his residence in the United

States, and his notions concerning God and a future state. By the aid of appropriate signs, also, Mr. Clerc ascertained the meaning of about twenty Chinese words. When the conversation began, the stranger appeared to be bewildered with amazement at the novel kind of language that was addressed to him ; soon, however, he became deeply interested in the very expressive and significant manner which Mr. Clerc used to make himself understood; and, before one hour had expired, a very quick and lively interchange of thought took place between those two, so lately entire strangers to each other. The Chinese himself began to catch the spirit of his new deaf and dumb acquaintance, and to employ the language of the countenance and gestures with considerable effect to make himself understood."

1819.02.13 Laurent writes a letter to Aaron Fuller of Deerfield, Massachusetts advising him on his attempts to get the state of Massachusetts to fund the education of his sons, Augustus and Aaron, Jr. 

1819.04.27 A letter was written (in French) by Jean Enrique to Laurent discussing his impending marriage to a non-Catholic.

1819.05.03 Laurent Clerc married Miss Elizabeth Crocker Boardman, a former pupil at her uncle's home in Cohoes Falls, New York. Six (6) children were born to them, two dying in infancy. "The marriage was by all accounts happy, and it provided a new incentive for Clerc to stay in America." A Mighty Change: An Anthology of Deaf American Writing, 1816-1864, Christopher Krentz

1819-1820 Session of the United States Congress allocated 23,000 acres in Alabama to help fund the Hartford school, the first time since the establishment of the country. Laurent's earlier visits with Congress and President Monroe "made an impression; in its 1819–20 session, Congress passed a bill granting land in Alabama to the school, and Monroe signed the bill into law. The land was subsequently sold for $300,000, enough to ensure the school’s long-term financial stability."

A Mighty Change: An Anthology of Deaf American Writing, 1816-1864, Christopher Krentz

1820.03.25 Clerc and Eliza's first child, Elizabeth Victoria Clerc is born in Hartford, CT.

1820 Clerc returns to France for a visit to his family.

1820  The Abbe Sicard wrote a note (in French) to a Monsieur Luard, owner of the Journal de Paris requesting a back edition and regarding a letter from Laurent.

​1821.04.18 Eliza Clerc received a letter from "Cousin Fanny" Prescott dealing with the death of grandmother & conveyed family news.

1821.08.01 In October, Clerc was invited to go, for 8 months, to the Pennsylvania Institution for the Deaf to act as principal until a permanent one could be found. During his stay there he introduced fully the teaching methods practiced at the Hartford school and gave valuable aid to the teachers.

1821.10.11  Bishop Jean Cheverus, of Boston, wrote to Laurent asking if he would take in Miss Walker for a while, made greetings to Mme. Clerc and M. Gallaudet.

1822 Laurent and Eliza Clerc had the final sitting with William Peale in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

1823.03.03   Sabrina Boardman, mother-in-law to Laurent, wrote a letter to him and Eliza about religious philosophy and gratitude.

1824.04.12  Mr. N. J. Wheaton  of London, England writes to Laurent with news about what has happened since Laurent left, about the London Asylum  to LC and about the articulation used  there vs. signs.

1825.03.13   Mr. Theodore Dwight wrote to Laurent requesting him to speak at the American Bible Society.

1824.07.05  M. Guillaume Taylor writes (in French) to Laurent and asks him to look after him during his visit to U.S.

1826.11.08  Mr. Samuel Shaw Crocker wrote to Laurent about the death of Col. Benjamin Prescott.

1827.05.07  A Mr. H. Huntington wrote a letter to Laurent about an upcoming voyage and delivery of letters on behalf of Laurent 

1827.05.24  Mr. H. Bleecker wrote to Laurent introducing his friend, Anna Bridgen, for a visit to Hartford

1828.07.24 Mr. Thomas Glover wrote to Laurent about a Catholic family would like to remove their daughter from Philadelphia school and send her to Clerc at the Asylum

1828.08.08  Ms. Nancy Crocker (Prescott) wrote to Eliza Crocker Boardman Clerc regarding family news.

1828.09.11   The Bishop Benedict Fenwick of Boston wrote to Laurent introducing Dr. Kinnis of Quebec.

1830 Thomas Gallaudet left the Connecticut school to pursue his ministry and writing.

1830 In this year there was a revolt by the students of the school on Saint-Jacques. From its creation in 1794 until 1822, was led by the Abbé Sicard. Interestingly, not knowing sign language, he is unable to communicate with his students. Later, deaf historians wrote that Saint-Jacques owed its reputation to Massieu and Clerc. But apparently these two heroes in deaf history never succeeded in abandoning an attitude of submission concerning Sicard. A good illustration of this attitude was Clerc’s refusal to teach his students in sign language, and his preference for « methodical signs », a form of signed French. Clerc struggled with his same dilemma on his arrival to the United States. 

1831 Laurent encouraged his student Harvey P. Peet to go to the New York Institute of the Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb.

1834.11.03 Mr. Stiles French wrote to Laurent to report on his children's, Francis (11) and Charles (8), progress at the  “Collegiate and Commercial School” in New Haven, CT. 

1835.09.05 While Laurent was traveling in France a M. Isaac Chomely (in French) requests a visit with him. 

1835.12.21 M. Ferdinand Berthier wrote to Laurent to ask him to dinner.

1835-1844   WHO? Twelve (12) letters from Anna Maria Pole (London) to LC – General content; family illnesses/news

1835 Clerc returns to France for a visit to his family.

1837.03.24 A N. S. Dodge of Pittsfield Boarding School for Young Ladies (may be Pittsfield Young Ladies Institute, and was later known as the Maplewood Institute) writes to Laurent about Elizabeth Victoria’s academic progress.

1838.07  Laurent's daughter Sarah B. Clerc writes from New London, CT where she appears to be visiting with her mother and wants to come home on the stagecoach. 

1838.07.27  Sarah B. Clerc writers to her father, Laurent about her visit to the seashore.


1838 Laurent receives an honorary masters degree in the Arts in from Washington College, soon to become Trinity College.

1839.08.18 Another letter from N. S. Dodge (Pittsfield Boarding School for Young Ladies) to Laurent reviewing Elizabeth Victoria’s academic progress and includes with the letter a "circular".

1840.04.26  Another letter from Sarah B. Clerc to Laurent on her visit to Troy, NY.  

1840.05.12  Sarah B. Clerc writes to Laurent from Waterford, NY and indicates that a deaf & dumb girl wants to meet him. 


1840.11   A letter from "Cousin" Fanny Prescott to Sarah B. Clerc about Sabbath School.

1846 In the spring, Laurent Clerc obtained leave of the Directors of the American Asylum to visit France on private business. He left on August 8th from New York on board the packet-ship Argo, with a Capt. Anthony, bound to Havre, accompanied by his younger son, Charles Michael Clerc whom he intended to leave with his relations in Lyons, for two or three years, for the purpose, to make further improvement in his knowledge of the French language, but also of placing him in a school where the theory of manufacturing silk is taught. Charles Michael Clerc would die at the age of 26 years old and is buried at the grave site as Eliza and

Laurent. While there he made visits of Deaf schools that he chronicled on his return in a paper called "VISITS TO SOME OF THE SCHOOLS FOR THE DEAF AND DUMB IN FRANCE AND ENGLAND". (American Annals of the Deaf and Dumb, Vol. 1, No. 1 (OCTOBER, 1847, pp. 62-66). Laurent traveled to Lyon and La Balme, France to see family. He visited deaf schools in Lyon, Paris and St. Etienne, France.

1948 TheAmerican school for the Deaf Alumni Association commission a painting, by Louis Fusari of Laurent Clerc which now hangs in the Cogswell Heritage House at ASD. 

1847 Laurent visits the school of Benjamin Dubois, student of the Paris Institute that was promoting an oral method of teaching the Deaf. 

1848 Clerc visits the Fanwood School in White Plains, NY. Laurent had taught Harvey P. Peet at ASD who became the prinipal of the New York Institute of the Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb and would build this school into one of the most noted in the Deaf world.

1850.09.20 In Hartford, on this date, students of the Connecticut school held a convocation to honour Clerc and Gallaudet at "Old Hartford" school, presenting them with silver pitcher and  tray. Cited here.

1850.09.26 "A large number of the deaf and dumb, from the New England States and other sections of the Union, assembled in the city of Hartford, to testify their gratitude, respect and love for their old instructors, Thomas H. Gallaudet and Laurent Clerc, by the public presentation of several pieces of rich and elegant silver plate. Of the two recipients of that handsome testimonial, Mr. Clerc "still lives." In a green and vigorous old age, he still devotes himself, with faithful industry, to the labors which have filled his life, and which have made it so rich a blessing to generations of the deaf and dumb". The Connecticut Common School Journal and Annals of Education, NEW SERIES, Vol. 1 (9), No. 12 (DECEMBER, 1854), pp. 369-378 

1851.9.10 Thomas Gallaudet passes away.

1851 "After Gallaudet’s death, Clerc served as the president of an association to erect a monument in Gallaudet’s memory. This group led to the formation, in 1854, of the New England Gallaudet Association of the Deaf, the first of many such deaf organizations. At the association’s first meeting, a member introduced a resolution stating that “the memory of Professor Clerc is cherished with profound gratitude and affection by all American deaf-mutes.” It was adopted unanimously."

A Mighty Change: An Anthology of Deaf American Writing, 1816-1864, Christopher Krentz

1851.08.14 Trinity College gaveClerc the honorary degree of Master of Arts.

1852.03 Laurent Clerc's autobiographical "sketch" is published in the Connecticut Common School Journal (1838-1853)

Vol. 6, No. 3/4 (March and April, 1852), pp. 102-112 (11 pages)

1854 Laurent and Eliza Clerc came into possession of the Peale's portraits when they were being dispersed by auction in 1854, at which time they were spotted by deaf artist, Albert Newsam, who purchased them for for $20 (approx $708 today).

1854.09.06 Albert Newsam, Deaf artist who purchased the Laurent Clerc Peale portraits went to dinner at the Clerc home, after the inauguration of the Thomas H. Gallaudet memorial. Albert stayed with the Clerc's for three weeks. This means that he did not likely send the Peale portraits to Laurent but delivered them in person. 

1854 Deaf-mutes gathered at the Hartford Asylum to dedicate a monument to Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet. Laurent Clerc was the President of the Gallaudet Memorial Association.

1858 Clerc retired from active teaching at the age of 73. From this time till a few months prior to his death he enjoyed life as well as most men of his age. "Happy in his domestic and social relations, he might be seen in the streets and in the post office and reading rooms of Hartford almost everyday, meeting his friends with a pleasant smile and a graceful salutation; and expressing a deep interest in public events relating to the welfare of the country and especially to the prosperity of his beloved asylum."

1864 Laurent Clerc wrote a letter to the board of the Connecticut school..."Thank to God, I still enjoy good heath and wish I had not retired so early as I could have continued to do more good to my unfortunate fellow beings & to teach new teachers how to teach well".

1864.06.28 Laurent Clerc spoke at the inauguration of the National College of Deaf-Mutes (Gallaudet University) in Washington, DC.

He received an honorary degree from Trinity College in Hartford, as well as citations from Dartmouth College and the University of Lyons.

1869.05.03 Laurent and Eliza celebrated their 50th edding anniversary. Fanny Prescott, Eliza's cousin was the only surviving bridesmaid  and attended.

1869.06.26 Sarah Clerc Deming, Laurent's 2nd daughter died at the age of 40 years old. She was buried in Spring Grove Cemetery.

1869.07.18 Laurent Clerc died on the 18th of July, in the eighty-fourth year (84) of his age, respected and honored by all and shortly after celebrating his golden wedding anniversary with his wife. He was interned in the Spring Grove Cemetery in Hartford, CT. At his grave site Laurent is buried with Eliza, his son Charles Michael Clerc (26) and several grandchildren. A story of the installation of the Laurent and Eliza Garden is available here.

1870.01 W.W. Turner publishes an article on Laurent  Clerc in the American Annals of the Deaf and Dumb

Vol. 15, No. 1 (JANUARY, 1870), pp. 16-28 (13 pages)

1871.09 A meeting was held of delegates from nearly all the associations, in Albany, New York and a committee was appointed to create an organization to collect funds for a Clerc Monument. The President, Mr. John Carlin, of New York, had resigned, "debarred" from taking an active part. Thomas Brown, of New Hampshire became president of the Clerc Memorial Union. Initially the considered raising funds in his name for a Home for Aged and Infirm deaf-mutes.

1873.12 A memorial bust was improved by the Clerc Memorial Union instead of an aged home. Mr. H. A. Patterson, of Hartford was entrusted with the work. Mr. Charles Conrad molded the bust. The memorial was placed on the lope in front of the school and cost $2900.

1874.09.16 Dedication of the Clerc Memorial, Hartford CT. James Denison gave his address "THE MEMORY OF LAURENT CLERC". It was a Wednesday. Charlotte (Lottie) Beers, grand daughter of Clerc was to veil it in a simple ceremony. Then the attendees gathered at the Asylum Hill Congregational Church, for a dedication service. Mr. Brown, of West Henniker N.H. and an early graduate of the Asylum presided. The Rev. W.W. Turner, former principal signed a prayer. Mr. Brown, being President of the Clerc Memorial Union gave the presentation address. Mr. Job Williams read the address. Mr. Brown had Laurent Clerc's watch that was given to him by Mrs. Clerc. Calvin Day was President of the American Asylum at the time and accepted the Memorial on behalf of the Board of Directors.  Mr. John C. Bull translated Mr. Day's address. 

1874.10 James Denison publishes his "THE MEMORY OF LAURENT CLERC" in the American Annals of the Deaf and Dumb

Vol. 19, No. 4 (OCTOBER, 1874), pp. 238-244 (7 pages)

1880 Eliza Clerc passed away and was buried in Spring Grove Cemetery in Hartford CT.

1893.05.01 to 1893.10.30 Laurent Clerc featured in an exhibit at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. An exhibit on Schools for the deaf included "25 photographs, artistically framed" that included a photo of the Laurent Clerc Memorial.

1942.08 Publication of an article about notable person, Benjamin Dubios, which has comments attributed to Laurent Clerc. The Frat,  Official Publication of the National Fraternal Society of the Deaf (NFSD), Volume 40 Number 01 August 1942

1953.04.15 A memorial was dedicated by the New England Gallaudet Association for the Deaf. This was captured in an article titled "Memorial to Founders of the American School for the Deaf", American Annals of the Deaf, Vol. 98, No. 4 (September, 1953), pp. 394-396 (4 pages), Published by: Gallaudet University Press

1962 The Clerc Papers donated by Francis Ogden Clerc of Wilton, CT were donated to Yale University Archives and Manuscripts by Guy Bryan Holt, great great grandson of Laurent Clerc.

1971 Francis Clerc Ogden, great grandson of Laurent and Eliza Clerc passed away.

1972 The Peale portraits were received by the American School for the Deaf.

1974 The Laurent Clerc dorm at Gallaudet University was dedicated.

1980 A group of French Association of the Deaf, Association Laurent Clerc and American visitors dedicated the wrong building as the birthplace of Laurent Clerc.

1984.10.24 The Peale portraits were unveiled at a reception at the Wadsworth Atheneum on and remain there today under a
renewable, long-term loan.


1984 French Association of the Deaf, Association Laurent Clerc and American visitors dedicated the proper birthplace of Laurent Clerc.They installed a bronze plaque to commemorative this home.

1995.12 In a issue of Deaf Life there was an article titled "Rediscovering Laurent Clerc: 210 Year and Still Going Strong"

1998.04.17 The unveiling and dedication of the restored headstones of Laurent and Eliza Clerc.

2016 Article written by Roslyn Rosen, "The Power and Promise of a Handshake: Milestones in Collaboration describing some of the initiatives that had resulted from the collaboration of Laurent and Thomas Gallaudet. 


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