Mrs. Sigourney of Hartford

Poems and Prose on the Early American Deaf Community

1st Edition

Edited by Edna Edith Sayers & Diana Moore

Categories: Literature / Poetry / Literary Studies, Deaf Communities and Cultures
Imprint: Gallaudet University Press
Paperback : 9781563685576, 128 pages, May 2013
Ebook : 9781563685583, 128 pages, May 2013
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Lydia Howard Huntley Sigourney (1791-1865) of Hartford, Connecticut, was an internationally known poet in her day. She was the first person to teach Alice Cosgrove, the deaf student who inspired Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet to open the first school for deaf students in America.



Lydia Huntley was born in 1791 in Norwich, CT, the only child of a poor Revolutionary war veteran. But her father’s employer, a wealthy widow, gave young Lydia the run of her library and later sent her for visits to Hartford, CT. After teaching at her own school for several years in Norwich, Lydia returned to Hartford to head a class of 15 girls from the best families. Among her students was Alice Cogswell, a deaf girl soon to be famous as a student of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet and Laurent Clerc.
       Lydia’s inspiration came from a deep commitment to the education of girls and also for African American, American Indian, and deaf children. She left teaching to marry Charles Sigourney, then turned to writing to support her family, publishing 56 books, 2,000 magazine articles, and popular poetry. Lydia Sigourney never abandoned her passion for deaf education, remaining a supporter of Gallaudet’s school for the deaf until her death. Yet, her contributions to deaf education and her writing have been forgotten until now.
       All of Lydia Sigourney’s of Lydia Sigourney’s work on the nascent Deaf community is presented in this new volume. Her writing intertwines her mastery of the sentimentalism form popular in her day with her sharp insights on the best ways to educate deaf children. In the process, Mrs. Sigourney of Hartford reestablishes her rightful place in history.


Edna Edith Sayers, retired professor of English at Gallaudet University, lives on Seneca Lake, NY, where she writes on Deaf history, Old Icelandic literature, and disability studies.
Diana Moore is a Deaf Collection and Instructional Librarian at Gallaudet University, Washington, DC.