Carolyn Perkins born

July 24, 1868

Carolyn Perkins was born in Rochester, NY to the Gilman H. Perkins family and became deaf at age 2.

Mary Hart Nodine


As Carolyn Perkins became school age, Mrs. Perkins visited the Maryland School for the Deaf. There she met Mary Hart Nodine, a teacher at the school, and enticed her to move to Rochester to become a tutor for Carolyn. Nodine is engaged to fellow teacher Zenas Freeman Westervelt.

The "Combined Method"

1876 - 1878

The "Combined Method" of instruction (the use of signs and speech) was used at the school for teaching and communicating with the children.

RSD established


On Feb. 3, 1876 a meeting was held with the mayor of Rochester to establish a school for the deaf and a Board of Trustees. The school was named the Western New York Institute for Deaf Mutes.

RSD placed under NYS Education Dept.


On May 15, 1876 RSD was put under the control of the NYS Dept. of Educ. and under the supervision of the NYS Board of Charities.

School opens

Oct. 4, 1876

The school officially opens on this date with 23 students.

The Rochester Method

1878 - 1985

The method of instruction was changed from signs and speech to fingerspelling and speech. (Signs or gestures were no longer permitted) This method became internationally known as the "Rochester Method" of communication.

Kindergarten established


A Kindergarten program was established at the school. It was the first of its kind in the country for deaf children.

Daily Paper for our Little People


The "Daily Paper for our Little People" was started. It was used as a daily journal of events taking place at the school.

"Silent Workers"


The "Silent Workers" organization was established at RSD to financially support the Chefoo School for the Deaf in China. Student organized activities to earn money to send to China in support of the school there.

Lambda Phi Phi


A literary and debating society was organized at the school and called the Lambda Phi Phi.

Lyon Phonetic Alphabet


Dr. Westervelt meets with Mr. Lyon about a phonetic alphabet that Mr. Lyon has been working on. Mr Lyon develops the alphabet using hand positions to portray phonetic sounds. It is used at the school in the teaching of speech to the students.

Football Team established


The first RSD Football team is established.

Alumni Association


The RSD Alumni Association is established. Former student and teacher Clayton McLaughlin is its first president.



Stromberg-Carlson, a prominent Rochester company, develops an auditory stimulator. It is the first electronic hearing aid and was tested and used by students at the school.

Dr. Westervelt dies

Feb. 17, 1918

Dr. Westervelt dies on Feb. 17, 1918

School renamed


The Western New York Institute for Deaf Mutes is officially renamed the Rochester School for the Deaf.

Baseball Team established


The RSD baseball team was established. Elmer Kuder was captain of the 1st team and Robert Heacock was the captain of the 2nd team.

Boy Scout Troop established


Boy Scout Troop #23 is established at the school.

Girl Scout Troop established


Girl Scout Troop #51 is formed at RSD.

Soccer Team established


The first RSD Soccer team is established at the school by its first coach, Mr. Leenhouts (a teacher at the school).

Preschool established


The first preschool aged children were enrolled at the school.

Dr. Forrester retires


Dr. Forrester retires and moves to Canada.

NYSAED established

October 26, 1955

Dr. Galloway is the driving force behind the establishment of the NYSAED (the New York State Association of Educators of the Deaf).

Dr. Galloway retires


Dr. Galloway retires and Dr. Hoag takes over.



The National Technical Institute for the Deaf is established at the Rochester Institute of Technology campus as one of its colleges

RSD Yearbook (The Lantern) published


The first RSD student yearbook "The Lantern" was published.

Dr. Hoag moves to Arizona


Dr. Hoag moves to become the Superintendent of the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind. Mr. Zwick takes over.

National Captioned Films


The National Captioned Films for the Deaf Selection program is housed on the RSD campus.

Summer School program established


The first Summer School program was established at RSD with Mr. Fred Koch as its director.

Jr. NAD chapter established

October 14, 1982

RSD students form a chapter of the Jr. National Association of the Deaf.

Program for Deaf/Emotionally Disturbed children established

September 1984

A collaborative program with the Hillside Children's Center is opened for Deaf/Emotionally disturbed children. It is the only one of its kind in NYS to serve that population of students. The children live on the Hillside campus and come to RSD on a daily basis for their educational program.

American Sign Language

1985 - Present

The Rochester Method gradually disappeared and American Sign Language was used as the instructional mode of communication.

Horizons program established


RSD begins a program called "Horizons". It is a transitioning program for 18 - 21 year old deaf individuals into community life and work situations.

Apple-a-Daycare Center opens

September 1988

Apple-A-Day daycare center opens on the RSD campus for children of RSD staff and local community members. The first known daycare program in the nation to care for both hearng and deaf children mixed together with the staff using speech and sign language for all of the children.

Mr. Zwick retires


Mr. Zwick retires and Dr. Harold Mowl takes over.

Adventures In Education program established


The first Adventures in Education program is held. It is an annual fund raiser for the school in which prominent adventurers come to the school for 2 or 3 days to work with the students and gives talks about their field of endeavors.

RSD Outreach Center established


The Rochester School for the Deaf Outreach Center was established. It serves as a clearing house for information on deafness for public schools and as a resource to the community supporting programs for children and adults to learn more about deafness, sign language and enhancement of academic programs.


Dr. Zenas Freeman Westervelt

Feb. 3, 1876 - Feb. 17, 1918

Dr. Zenas Freeman Westervelt was named as the first Superintendent of the Rochester School for the Deaf. He served in that capacity until his death on Feb. 17, 1918.

Dr. Thomas Carlaw Forrester

1918 - 1943

Dr. Thomas Carlaw Forrester, a teacher at the school, was named as the second RSD Superintendent serving until his retirement in 1943.

Dr. James H. Galloway

1943 - 1966

Dr. James H. Galloway, an RSD teacher, becomes the third Superintendent of the Rochester School for the Deaf and serves until his retirement in 1966.

Dr. Ralph L. Hoag

1966 - 1974

Dr. Ralph L. Hoag comes to RSD from the U.S. Department of Education as the fourth Superintendent of the school. He serves until June, 1974 at which time he moves to become the Superintendent of the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind.

Leonard G. Zwick

1974 - 1990

Mr. Leonard G. Zwick is named the fifth Superintendent of RSD. Zwick had been a teacher, guidance counselor, the school's first audiologist and the school's principal for 17 years before becoming Superintendent.

Dr. Harold M. Mowl Jr.

1990 - Present

Dr. Harold Mowl becomes the sixth and first deaf Superintendent of RSD. He comes to RSD from the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf in Pittsburgh, PA where he was a former student and school administrator.

RSD Campus

First school building

1876 - 1878

The first school building used by the Western New York Institute for Deaf Mutes was located at #70 S. St. Paul Street at the corner of Court Street. The building was rented from the city of Rochester.

The "Truant Home"

1877 - 1878

The boys were moved to the "Truant Home" on N. St. Paul Street (the current Perkins Hall) and the building was rented from the city of Rochester for the sum of $1 per year.

St. Paul Campus

1878 - Present

All of the students (both boys and girls) were moved to the new campus at #263 N. St. Paul Street.
This is the school's current location.

Fire of 1882

July 31, 1882

A fire destroys the shops behind the main building as well as some damage to the main building itself.


Sept. 1882

Three new buildings were built to replace the burned out buildings. These were the new KG building, the academic building, and the attachment to the boiler house building.

Farm purchased


The school also purchased the farm at the corner of Norton Street and Jewel Street bordered by Ceach Street and the R.W. and D. railroad line. (the Rome/Watertown and ? Railroad)

School Campus purchased


The campus property that the school was renting was purchased from the city of Rochester for the sum of $20,000.00

Steamship House


The old "Steamship House" (once an inn on the stage and rail line and later moved to from the Ridge to the St. Paul Street location and used by the school as a laundry) is torn down to make room for the new Lyon Hall girls dorm being built on that spot.

Lyon Hall is built


Carolyn Hamilton Talcott Lyon donates money to build Lyon Hall (a girl's dormitory) in memory of her husband Dr. Edmund Lyon and her Aunt, Harriet Hamilton.

Willis Hall built

June 12, 1931

Willis Hall (a boy's dormitory) is opened. It is donated to the school by Robert Willis in memory of his parents.

Preschool wing added


A new preschool wing was added to the primary building to accommodate the preschol children.

Academic building (Westervelt Hall)


A new academic building with a shared auditorium and gymnasium in the basement was built (Westervelt Hall).

RSD expansion plan


Dr. Galloway and the Board of Directors develop and approve a new expansion plan for the RSD campus.

Preschool building (Denton Hall)


A new Preschool building is added to the campus. Denton Hall is donated by Mrs. Gormly, an RSD Board member, in memory of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Nehemiah Denton.

Galloway Hall


Galloway Hall (a dormitory for children 5 years of age and under) is built

Dining Hall built (Forrester Hall)


Forrester Hall, a dining room and infirmary are built on the campus.

Campus renovations

1999 - 2003

The RSD campus is renovated bringing it into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act by making building accessable with ramps, elevators, larger bathrooms and airconditioning. Other renovations are also made to the campus at the cost of approximately 14 million dollars of NYS monies

Famous Visitors to RSD

Harriet Beecher Stowe and Oliver Wendell Holmes


Harriet Beecher Stowe and Oliver Wendell Holmes visit the school to see the students put on a production of Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin".

Alexander Graham Bell


A. G. Bell visits the school to see the Lyon Phonetic Method in action. A. G. Bell and his father were also working on a visual phonetic system but was deemed to be not as good as the Lyon Phonetic Alphabet.

Helen Keller and A. G. Bell


Both Helen Keller and A. G. Bell visit the school.

Helen Keller visits again


Helen Keller visits the school again. The children present her with flowers.

Helen Keller visits


Helen Keller visits the campus again for the dedication of the new academic building. (Westervelt Hall)

Ann Bancroft


First Adventures in Education speaker. She crossed the Arctic and Antarctic by dogsled

Robert Ballard


Discoverer of the sunken Titanic and the Bismark

Dan Buettner


He bicycled across continents exploring different cultures

Fred Haise


Oneof the Apollo 13 astronauts who had to abort their flight and landing on the moon

Jan Reynolds


She treked across the Sahara dessert and the Himalayan mountains

Todd Skinner


Internationally known free rock climber who died from a fall on a climb after visiting RSD

Alvah and Diana Simon


World Class sailors who survived a winter stuck in Arctic ice with their sailboat

Arlene Burns


World Class Kayaker who explored rivers of the world

Jean Michel Cousteau


Ocean explorer and environmentalist who fights for the protection of underwater creatures

Libby Riddles


First woman to win the Ididarod Dog Sled Race in Alaska

Hazel Barton and Nancy Aulenbach


Explorers of ice caves

Dick Rutan


World Class pilot and balloonist who helped develop the first private aircraft to break the Earth's atmosphere and enter outerspace

Rusty Johnson


Wildlife and environmental educator

Jack Horner


Renowned paleontologist who searches for and digs up dinosaur bones

George Kourounis


Film maker and global adventurer

Christy Smith and Dave Justice


They traveled to different countries to explore deaf culture around the world

David Gallo


Director of special projects for Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution shared his experiences exploring the under sea world

Florian Schultz


Professional wildlife and landscape photographer from Germany

Prominent Students (Alumni)

Philip Brown


Philip Brown becomes the first RSD college graduate from Gallaudet College.

Clara Noro

June 1911

In June of 1911, Clara Noro is the first RSD student to be awarded a New York State Regents diploma .

Barbara Tubbs named Miss Deaf America


Barbara Tubbs, a 1978 graduate of RSD becomes "Miss Deaf America".

Prominent Staff/Faculty members

First teaching staff


The first four teachers selected to work at the school included Mrs. Mary H. (Nodine) Westervelt, Miss Harriet E. Hamilton, Mr. Edward P. Hart, and Mr. Mills Whittlesey.

Annetta Thompson


RSD teacher Miss Annetta Thompson married Rev. Charles R. Mills, a missionary in China, and they establish the first School for the Deaf in China (The Chefoo School for the Deaf).

Rosa H. Halpin


Rosa was the first graduate of RSD and also became the first deaf faculty member.

Lyon Wedding

June 2, 1896

Carolyn Hamilton Talcott (niece of one of the original teachers, Harriet Hamilton) marries Edmund Lyon and they have their reception at the school sharing wedding cake with all of the students and staff.

Clayton McLaughlin


Clayton McLaughlin, an RSD alumnus and math teacher establishes the RSD Alumni Association and becomes its first president.

World Events

Battle of Little Big Horn


General George A. Custer and his troops are killed in the Battle of Little Big Horn

Telephone Invented


Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone and gets a patent for it.

Electric Lights


Thomas Edison invents the electric light bulb

Brooklyn Bridge


The Brooklyn Bridge is built

Statue of Liberty


The Statue of Liberty is given to the U.S. from France and is built and dedicated in the NY harbor

The "Box Camera"


George Eastman develops the first "Box Camera" for Kodak

The Eiffel Tower


The Eiffel Tower is built in Paris, France

Olympic Games


The first "modern" Olympic Games are held in Athens, Greece

Spanish American War


The Spanish American War begins

President William McKinley assassinated


President William McKinley is assassinated in Buffalo, NY

The Wright brothers


George and Orville Wright fly the first airplane at Kitty Hawk, SC

Ford Motor Co.


Henry Ford starts Ford Motor Company in Detroit, MI

Boston Red Sox


The Boston Red Sox win the first ever baseball World Series against the Pittsburgh Pirates

San Francisco earthquake


The Great San Francisco earthquake of 1906 takes place

The NAACP established


The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is founded

Boy Scouts of America


The Boy Scouts of America is founded

Titanic sinks


The Titanic, on its maiden voyage sinks after hitting an iceberg

WWI bigins

1914 - 1918

World War 1 begins

Russian Revolution


The Russian Revolution begins with the killing of Czar Nicholas and his family

Babe Ruth


Babe Ruth hits 60 home runs while playing for the NY Yankees

Charles Lindbergh


Charles Lindbergh flies solo from NY to Paris in a plane called the "Spirit of St. Louis"

The Great Depression


The Great Depression begins following the Stock Market Crash of 1929

Amelia Earhart


Amelia Earhart lost on a flight over the Pacific ocean. She and her navigator were never found

WWII begins

1939 - 1945

World war II begins

Pearl Harbor attack


Pearl Harbor is attacked by the Japanese and the United States enters WWII

Atomic Bomb


The US drops the first Atomic Bombs on the cities of Tokyo and Nagasaki, Japan bringing WWII to an end

Computer invented


The first electronic computer is invented



The country of Israel is established and recognized by the United Nations

Korean War

1950 - 1953

The Korean War begins as the North Koreans attack the South Koreans

Vietnam War begins

1960 - 1973

The Vietnam War begins

1st man in space


The Russians put the 1st man in space followed by the Americans 2 months later.

President John F. Kennedy assassinated


President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, TX

Martin Luther King assassinated


Dr. Martin Luther King is assassinated in Memphis, TN

Robert Kennedy assassinated


Senator Robert F. Kennedy is assassinaed in Los Angeles, CA

1st men to land and walk on the moon


The US lands a spacecraft on the moon and two astronauts leave the craft and walk on the moon's surface

President Nixon resigns


President Nixon resigns after the "Watergate" scandal

Space Shuttle explodes


The Space Shuttle "Challenger" with a teacher aboard explodes on take-off killing all the astronauts on board



On September 11, 2001 terrorists fly planes into to World Trade Center Towers in NYC and into the Pentagon in Washington, DC while another plane destined for the Capital building or the White House crashes into a field in PA. More than 3000 Americans are killed in these attacks.

Tsunami hits Thailand


Following an earthquake in Indonesia, a Tsunami strikes the shores of Thialand killing more than 225,000 people

Wars in Iraq and Afganistan

2004 - Present

The wars in Iraq and Afganistan begin