Would you leave your cultured life in Paris, France for the wilderness of 19th century America? Laurent Clerc, a deaf man and teacher at the Paris School for the Deaf, did just that.
Learn about the American School for the Deaf's first deaf teacher through an imaginary interview conducted by two 21st century ASD students. Find out what they learned as well as other interesting facts about Laurent Clerc.
Clerc's life in America
After being inspired by their interview with Laurent Clerc, the boys went to the the museum at the American School for the Deaf. They continued to find interesting facts and pieces of history.
This is what Clerc wrote about his first meeting with Alice: "... I beheld a very interesting little girl. She had one of the most intelligent countenances I ever saw. I was much pleased with her. We conversed by signs, and we understood each other very well; so true is it, as I have often mentioned before, that the language of signs is universal and as simple as nature." *** The Cogswell Letters
Clerc was planning to stay in America for only three years then go back to France. However, because he was doing such a great job at the American School for the Deaf, Gallaudet and Lydia Sigourney talked to him into staying in America.
Clerc married Eliza Boardman, one of his students. He was planning to return to France, but decided to stay because of Eliza. They were married in 1819. Eliza and Clerc were married for fifty years. The eldest of their children, Elizabeth, taught at ASD. Clerc was America's first deaf teacher. Clerc went to visit France three times after he settled in America.
Laurent Clerc retired from teaching in 1858 at 73 years old. When he retired, he loved to eat fried frogs' legs at his home. He loved to walk to the library and read newspapers every morning. Clerc never became a U.S citizen. He died at age of 84 years old, on July 18, 1869. His grave is in Spring Grove Cemetery, Hartford, near his wife Eliza and the poetess Lydia Sigourney.