Jul. 9, 1804 Portsmouth Rockingham County New Hampshire, USA
Mar. 15, 1884 Philadelphia Philadelphia County Pennsylvania, USA
Medical Pioneer. Educator. Social Reformer. He earned his medical degree at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1849, he visited an classroom for the mentally retarded taught by Dr. James Richards in Boston. Returning to Philadelphia, Elwyn took steps towards caring for special needs children. At that time special needs children would often be abandoned to live on the streets by their families. Without the guidance, education, or social skills learned in a family setting, special needs children were bound to get into trouble. Society, with little or no understanding of mental disabilities, often jailed these children along with violent criminals. At Elwyn's request, Richards came to Philadelphia and opened a private school for the mentally retarded in Germantown. In 1854 Elwyn opened The Pennsylvania Training School for Idiotic and Feeble-minded Children which later became the Elwyn School. At the urging of social activist Dorothea Lynde Dix, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 60 acre tract in Delaware County for Elwyn's instituttion. Today his school is an international human services resource for children and adults with developmental, physical, and emotional challenges. Elwyn was a president of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, a director of Philadelphia's Girard College, and a member of the first Board of Trustees of the Farmers' High School of Pennsylvania, which evolved into The Pennsylvania State University. He was also a member of the Academy of Natural Sciences, the Philosophical Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
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Thomas Elwyn "died many years before his wife [Elizabeth], who deceased at Philadelphia, Aug. 8, 1860, having had nine children,—Catharine Cecilia, Elinor Elizabeth, John Langdon, Emily Sophia, Alfred L. (subject of this sketch), Charles Henry, Emma Matil...(Read more) -Anonymous Added: Mar. 8, 2014