Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.: Guardian of the private collections. There is nothing better than this unique place. The principles at play are much larger than this. I believe in mother of all libraries. Indeed, growing up where I usually carry library card with me all the time, the experiences as a library supporter, my experiences studying in libraries, and by researching, reading, and writing has informed my belief in the ideal that library system, that will greatly benefit of, in the ranks of information that has often quickly forgotten how important it is.
It is with a heartfelt debt of gratitude that I grabbed for the vote of confidence in electing to do this opportunity. I was helping out a friend for PhD dissertation, and I am humbly entrusted with the responsibility of helping out this. Access to private collections is generally limited to those engaged in higher learning studies.
All the books I’ve read about Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, Sophia Fowler Gallaudet, Edward Miner Gallaudet, Laurent Clerc, and others long before I moved to DC, but nothing will ever replace this. Now I got to witness hand-written letters by the very same people above. Incredible experience!
Until today, walking into Library of Congress to do academic research for the full day, has advanced issues of importance to Deaf community for truth results why American Sign Language (ASL) shall kept strong, vibrant, and resilient who care about the safety and wellness of where Deaf community live and about each other and how we can grow.
The collections of documents about Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet and Edward Miner Gallaudet papers with hundreds and hundreds of letters goes back to 1806 to 1847, was incredible experience. I got to see the old letters written by Sophia Fowler Gallaudet whom she wrote a letter to T.H. Gallaudet had possibly made a history changer in Deaf Education. Sophia was born Deaf, and there was no Deaf schools in America that time. Sophia was a great writer, beautiful writing, indeed! Intellect. She was a matriarch in Deaf Education.
She writes: (keep in mind, it is not exactly accurate words, but I’ll do my best)
I love Laurent Clerc. I really loved [learning or seeing?] signs”
That might be the earliest birth of bilingualism (ASL/Written English) proficiency in my opinion. Sophia was definitely a thinker after reading the handwritten letters to T.H. Gallaudet and she knew that the importance of sign language in Deaf Education would be much needed in the sustained, systematic, and reflective thinking about the language and Deaf culture.
Laurent Clerc must be an amazing signer, that brought concepts and beliefs in any subject to see what is good and reasonable to believe about it, and why. That must have gotten Sophia to invest in love with sign language to understand expression, and shows that ASL is empirical and observable than ever today.
That letter written to Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet proved that sign language tends to examine data and evidence already available, usually trying to put ASL into a clear and reasonable perspective, rather than to seek new data.
After all, bilingualism is the best thing. Modes of communication are considered to be a waste of mental energy, for no useful purpose. Bilingualism is a path that can be embraced. It might be a process quite foreign to many of us, but today, the peer pressure of western medical and technological science has pursued a path of restoration of hearing through amplification and cochlear implants, but they do not produce healthy path for Deaf people.
It is best to learn ASL and written English will make ALL the difference. Early life of bilingualism would begin great storytellers and create their layer inner richness as human beings. It develops an understanding of sign language, which makes a better human being.
In Sophia’s words to T.H. Gallaudet about Laurent Clerc is the most powerful means by values of Deaf culture are passed on. The formation of Deaf child’s identity is so important with ASL and written English where the stories that both mirror and appreciate that language and culture, and it is our responsibility to push for stronger bilingualism principles.
That is what Sophia wanted.
Copyright © 2019 Jason Tozier
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