A Rich History
Boston-based lawyer and financier Gardiner Greene Hubbard grew interested in the field of deaf education when his five-year-old daughter, Mabel, became deaf as a result of scarlet fever. Firmly believing his daughter could speak and learn just like other children, Gardiner hired a teacher to work with Mabel on her speech and language. At age 10, Mabel did as well in the classroom as any of her peers with typical hearing.
Watching his daughter learn and grow, Gardiner became a dedicated advocate of education for children who were deaf or hard of hearing. Together with philanthropist John Clarke—who donated $50,000 to open a school for children with hearing loss—Gardiner founded Clarke School for the Deaf in 1867 in Northampton, Massachusetts, offering residential educational services for children who were deaf or hard of hearing.
Since its founding, Clarke has benefited from the support and innovation of numerous public figures, including the inventor Alexander (Alec) Graham Bell. Alec taught at Clarke for the first time in 1871, and would be associated with us for 51 more years—even serving as Clarke’s board president from 1917 to 1922.
And after becoming a student of Alec’s when she was 16, Mabel Hubbard and her teacher eventually married. The two raised four children; and Alec and Mabel’s father went on to start several world-famous organizations together, including the Bell Telephone Company and the National Geographic Society.
Clarke: Then and Now
When Clarke’s residential program was flourishing, students often did not enter the mainstream, learning or working alongside peers with typical hearing, until they were teenagers. Today, with the advent of technology, early intervention and a high-quality Listening and Spoken Language (LSL) education, many students enter the mainstream by preschool.
For this reason, in the 1990s, Clarke transitioned away from running one residential campus in Northampton, to operating five sites along the East Coast.
Today, Clarke brings its listening and spoken language expertise to families across the country and around the world through teleservices.
Clarke serves more than 1,000 children and their families annually.
Alexander Graham Bell, scientist and inventor of the telephone, as a young man.
While living in Gawith Hall, she met future husband and President Calvin Coolidge, who stayed at Adams house while practicing law in Northampton. Here are the Coolidges in 1923.
Alexander Graham Bell, teacher and Board Member at Clarke, was associated with the organization for more than 50 years.1917
1961 - President John F. Kennedy signs into a law a bill establishing support for training teachers of the deaf.
A friend to Clarke, Senator John F. Kennedy visited Clarke in 1955, when he was elected to Clarke's National Committee of Sponsors, and again in 1958, to assist in the dedication of a new dormitory building. Here he is visiting a classroom in 1955.
1975 - Clarke begins offering non-residential, outreach services — including early intervention, inclusion preschool, a community audiology clinic and mainstream services.
Jan Gatty, EdM, MED, EdD, director of Child and Family Services, with student in 1975.
Former CEE Coordinator Joanne O'Connell with student in 1993.
Clarke campers on a field trip in 1987.
Clarke staff posing together in 1995.
Clarke Boston 1995
Clarke opened its first Pennsylvania location in Bryn Mawr in September 2001.
Clarke Philadelphia 2001
2011 - Clarke’s residential program closes to better meet the needs of children who are deaf or hard of hearing—at younger ages and in mainstream schools.
Heather Stinson (CAGS, MED, S/LP-A), Clarke itinerant teacher of the deaf with student in his mainstream school.
Clarke Northampton 2011
A brief history of Clarke's 150-year legacy teaching children who are deaf or hard of hearing to listen and speak.
During the early days of the pandemic, Clarke offered close to 100% virtual services to more than 250 infants and toddlers, more than 250 preschoolers and close to 500 mainstream students.
Clarke Teleservices 2020
Recent Clarke News
Clarke’s programs in Massachusetts have received full approval and meet standards for Approved Private Special Education Programs through August 31, 2024.
Clarke joins the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AG Bell) in celebrating the monumental milestone of 1,000 certified Listening and Spoken Language Specialists!