Gallaudet University Seeks Alumni Diplomas for 150th Anniversary Celebration

Image: Diploma for Lester Rosson, signed by Theodore Roosevelt in 1902

Diploma for Lester Rosson, signed by Theodore Roosevelt in 1902

Gallaudet University celebrated President’s Day by calling on its alumni around the world to donate their diplomas for the university’s 150th anniversary. The diplomas will be featured in an online display and in the Gallaudet Archives to preserve deaf history.

The unique tradition of U.S. Presidents signing Gallaudet University diplomas started in 1869; five years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the charter which authorized the institution to confer college degrees. Edward Miner Gallaudet, Gallaudet’s founder and first president, presided over the first commencement where three young men received their diplomas, signed by President Ulysses S. Grant. As a federally chartered institution, the President of the United States is the patron of the university, which is why every sitting president has signed the diplomas of Gallaudet graduates.

“This tradition is special to Gallaudet University alumni,” said Gallaudet University President T. Alan Hurwitz. “By collecting the signed diplomas, we are helping preserve history and maintain an accurate representation of each of Gallaudet’s 142 graduating classes. It’s a fascinating way to see how Gallaudet has evolved over the years.”

The diplomas are requested in preparation for 2014, when Gallaudet reaches an impressive milestone: its 150th anniversary. Sesquicentennial activities are scheduled for July 9-13, 2014 and will include a historical reflection of the University’s past and growth as well as celebrations of the impact Gallaudet students and alumni have made and continue to make on the world.

Even though the celebration is two years away, planning has begun and the diplomas are a large part of the historical preservation of Gallaudet University. Diplomas from every graduating class are needed and there is a small collection already in the Gallaudet Archives. Recently, the children of Alice Ruth Campbell, Class of 1930, donated her diploma, which was the first donated under this new request. All of her children are Gallaudet alumni: Franklyn Amann, class of ’64; Astrid Amann Goodstein, class of ’65; and Paula Amann Chance, class of ’67. The diploma, which is on sheepskin, was presented by Astrid’s husband, Dr. Harvey Goodstein class of ’65, while at Gallaudet University where he serves as the Vice Chair on the Gallaudet University Board of Trustees. The diploma was signed by President Herbert Hoover.

Please click here to see the online display of donated diplomas. To give a diploma, please email

Kaitlin Luna, Coordinator of Media and Public Relations
(202) 448-7106
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