Home > Deaf History > Laura Dewey Bridgman Was The First Deaf and Blind Person to Learn Language

Laura Dewey Bridgman Was The First Deaf and Blind Person to Learn Language

December 3, 2007

Written by Bug:

Laura Dewey Bridgman is known as the first Deaf and Blind American child to get education in English language 50 years before the more famous Helen Keller. In 1831 Laura became very sick when she was 24 months old. She lost all senses such as hearing, sight, smell, and taste. Touch was only her sense. She delvoped the basic sign language with gestures for food and other basic needs. Also, she signed a name for each family member. The book author from England wrote about her and made the world to understand that deaf and blind people can be educated. In 1886, Helen Keller’s parents read it and realized there was a new hope for their daughter Hellen. Most people thought that Helen Keller was the first deafblind child to learn language but Laura was the first American to learn language. I found an interesting article so I want to share this with you. Read on:

Laura Dewey Bridgman (1829-1889)

(photo from: Lamson, Mary Swift – Life and education
of Laura Dewey Bridgman, the deaf, dumb and blind girl.

c. 1878 – New England Publishing Co.)

Laura Dewey Bridgman was born on December 21, 1829, in Etna, New Hampshire. She was normal at birth, but contracted scarlet fever at the age of two which destroyed her hearing and sight. A newspaper account about Laura in the spring of 1837 attracted the attention of Dr. Samuel Howe, director of the Perkins Institute for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts. Eager to attempt to teach a deaf-blind pupil, he brought her to the Institute in October 1837.

The process was slow and tedious, but Laura eventually learned to read and to write using specially grooved paper. Dr. Howe’s report of his successful experiment aroused worldwide interest and Laura became a wonder of her day. The British author, Charles Dickens, even devoted a chapter of his book, American Notes (1842) to a discussion of Laura’s case. Her formal education ceased when she was twenty, but Laura continued to live at the Perkins Institute for the rest of her life. She spent most of her time knitting, sewing, cleaning, and writing letters to friends. Laura Bridgman died on May 24, 1889.

To read more, click: http://library.pittstate.edu/spcoll/ndxbridgman.html

Research Links: http://virtualology.com/hallofwomen/LAURABRIDGMAN.COM/

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Categories: Deaf History
  1. Michelle D
    December 3, 2007 at 9:25 am

    Never knew about her. Thanks for sharing info with us!

  2. First American ?????
    December 3, 2007 at 9:51 am

    You wrote:

    “but Laura was the first American to learn language”

    Did you forget to insert “deaf-blind” between “the first”
    and “American”?????

  3. December 3, 2007 at 10:57 am

    I recalled and read about Laura was first person after I read the book about Helen Keller story. I still never forgot her names was only Laura. It is still interested story about Lauren. Good FB brought up about her who is one of most unfamous deaf and blind person before Helen Keller

  4. anonymous
    December 3, 2007 at 1:08 pm

    To First American ???

    Bug already said it in the topic and first sentence in the article. I think he does not need to repeat because his message is clear.

  5. Master
    December 3, 2007 at 1:10 pm

    Good job, Bug! FB ROCKS!

  6. h...
    December 3, 2007 at 3:06 pm

    yes i remember the story of laura. helen stole the show cuz she came from wealthy family.

  7. December 4, 2007 at 9:35 am

    Now I remember that I shared it with my oldest daughter, Tami when she was about 8 years old and I also remember her knitting. Thank you sooo much for bringing it back! She needs to be remembered more often. 😉

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