Cogswell Heritage House

ASD maintains an archival collection containing many items from the history of deaf education. Other links are listed at the left of this page. For a kid-friendly site related to Deafness and Deaf History, visit "Deaf Is...", a site of information collected by students at ASD. For a list of Hartford Historical Sites Important to the History of Deaf Education, Click Here

Among the thousands of items in the archives are:

  • The oldest book on sign language in English, Chirologia, 1644
  • Numerous books from the 17th, 18th and 19th century, in several languages, on deaf education
  • Personal papers of those involved in opening ASD, including founders Mason Cogswell, Thomas H. Gallaudet and Laurent Clerc; the school's earliest pupils, notably Alice Cogswell and George Loring; Alice's early tutor Lydia Sigourney, later a famous American poet, and others.
  • Documents relating to the first state and first federal aid to special education in the history of the United States.
  • Complete collection of the school's Annual Reports, as well as many from other schools for the deaf.
  • Complete collection of the American Annals of the Deaf, oldest professional journal in the field, begun in 1847 by ASD staff
  • Extensive collections of the Silent Worker, Christian Observer and other periodicals.
  • Works by 19th and 20th century deaf artists.

The Archives Today

vintage wedding dress

The school, which exists for the purpose of educating deaf and hard of hearing children, has had only limited resources to maintain the collection since the retirement of Gary Wait, Archivist, in June 2013. Currently, tours are limited and by appointment only.

The school has made a commitment to properly stabilize, preserve and catalogue the collection, make it accessible to scholars and, eventually, develop interpretive exhibits and materials for the public. The school hopes to preserve for the nation's future this precious piece of its past.

Current projects being worked on include:

  • Opening over 100 boxes of various school, community and ASDAA materials and organizing them.
  • Recording the names of all files and materials we have in the fire proof cabinets in the former Executive Director's house.

Both of these projects are labor intensive and the school is examining it's resources to develop a plan for the future. We recognize the importance of preparing for 2017, ASD's 200th birthday and hope much of this organization work can be done by then. The new school building will have several areas for the display of ASD's rich historical items.

Providing the best education possible for deaf and hard of hearing students remains the principle priority of the American School for the Deaf. A limited amount of funding has been made available by the school to begin the preservation, cataloguing and display of the magnificent collection housed in the ASD Archive. However, additional funding is required for the school to achieve its goals.

How You Can Help

All those who have an interest in preserving these treasures - members and friends of the deaf community, friends of history, of education, and others - are encouraged to consider a gift to the Archive Fund, recommend the names of others who may have an interest, or assist in continuing to build the archive collection. Call 860.570.2355 (Voice/TTY) or E-Mail: for more information. Click here to make an online donation.