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Historical Resources at Perkins School for the Blind Hayes Research Library and Archives Jan Seymour-Ford, Research

Librarian At Perkins School for the Blind there is a wealth of materials that illuminate the non-medical history of blindness and the blind. The Research Library and Archives are sister collections. The Research Librarys holdings are published and from current years. This includes academic dissertations, mostly in English, with some in French. The Archives has resources that are historical, many of which are unique. These materials are important because they show the history of this field of education, as well as social attitudes toward people with blindness in the U.S., Europe, and other parts of the world. Today Ill discuss the variety of materials at Perkins, why they are important, and how researchers can get access to them. We have a three-year grant from the U.S. government to process some of these materials. Many are digitized as accessible pdfs, and are available in a way they have never before been. The materials in the Perkins School for the Blind archives fall into four main categories: Published works Unpublished Documents Visual images Artifacts PUBLISHED WORKS Annual reports, beginning with the nineteenth century. Perkins School for the Blind ARs The annual reports from the 19th century include very detailed descriptions of the directors educational philosophy, information about the schools programs, administrative issues, and financial support from the public and the government. These resources are digitized: Royal National College for the Blind ARs, U.K., 1873-1992 These resources are digitized: Other Schools for the blind in the U.S. - ARs In many cases, we have older annual reports that the schools themselves dont have. Many schools in Europe and Asia - ARs These are mostly historic reports, with some that are current. The Mentor, 1891-94 This was perhaps the first publication in English by and for people who were blind. Most 19 th-century material about the needs and education of people who were blind was written by sighted educators. The Mentor gives us the opportunity to hear the voices and read about the concerns and the issues of people who were blind in this era. These resources are digitized: The Lens, 1903-05 The Lens was a literary magazine produced by students at Perkins School for the Blind. These resources are digitized: Print books, 18th-20th century

These are mainly of the education, development, and welfare of students and adults with blindness. There are many in English, French, and German. There are also titles in Swedish, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Dutch, and other languages. Most are uncataloged. Charity reports, mostly in English, 19th and early 20th century. These are a great source of insight into the social services, resources, and attitudes of the day. Conference reports, 19th century to the present These include, for example, 19th-century meetings of the American Association of Instructors of the Blind, complete with descriptions of passionate debates between proponents of the different writing systems, and many other issues in the field. Pamphlet file This is a diverse collection that includes information about agency services, assistive technology products, personal accounts, and institutional brochures, many historical. Books and articles about teachers and students who were affected by the racial discrimination practices of the United States. The American Printing House for the Blind has just announced the induction of Martha Foxx and Laurence Jones into the Hall of Fame. They were dedicated teachers who established a school in Mississippi for African-American children who were blind. The Research Library has accounts of their experiences and others in its collection. Biographies and autobiographies of people who were blind, including many from the 18th and 19th centuries. Blindiana collection For decades we have collected fiction and nonfiction books featuring a character or subject who was blind. This is a great window into the attitudes of past eras. UNPUBLISHED DOCUMENTS Correspondence, 1830s-1930s, some later Perkins directors correspondence (both incoming and outgoing), concerning administration, progress of students, philosophy of instruction, political events affecting the interests of education, etc. A finding aid is being created and is online: Manuscript collections This includes papers of Perkins directors and others, including Julia Ward Howe. Scrapbooks and newspaper clippings Perkins School for the Blind scrapbooks, 1833-1957 This includes events on campus, institutional history, accomplishments of Perkins alumni, concerts, exhibitions, etc. These resources are digitized: Miscellaneous blindness scrapbooks, 1880-1950s digitized These include newspaper clippings about people who were blind, pertaining to blindness, other schools and agencies. These resources are digitized: Miscellaneous scrapbooks, thematic These feature a particular theme or institution, e.g., blinded war veterans, organizations for babies or adults who were blind, Senator Thomas Gore, etc. These are mostly from early 20 th century. These resources are digitized:

Perkins teacher journals, 1841-1849; 1888-1889 Reports on daily progress of students, results of various teaching methods, observations of students behavior. These resources are digitized but the handwritten script is not accessible: Perkins student ledgers These record age, causes of visual impairment, the social origins of students, and who paid for the tuition fees. Other institutional records of Perkins These include financial ledgers, departmental reports, curricular materials, workshop materials and sales, etc. Unpublished course papers written by participants in the Perkins teacher training courses, 1921-1953 They provide a view of the changes in attitude, training, and approach in education of students who are blind. These resources are digitized but not available online. VISUAL IMAGES We have a rich collection of visual materials, which are in two categories: photographs and art images. PHOTOGRAPHS many are digitized: School buildings Perkins campus buildings theres a surprising amount of interest in the locations and buildings of the Perkins campus over the decades: Royal National College for the Blind near London, England. Most of these buildings have since been destroyed: Other schools all over the world. The differences in their appearance is interesting. Some looked like palaces or universities, some like cozy homes, and others like mills or factories: Curriculum We can learn a lot about education in the era How are desks arranged? How many students are in the class? Do the students have books or equipment? Are the materials tactile? Leisure What are appropriate leisure activities? Are the students supervised or controlled? Are the genders segregated? How have our ideas of safety changed? What was daily life like in the cottages? Vocational education What occupations are the students being trained for? Massage Weaving and caning, other textile work

Typing and Auto mechanics Piano tuning Agriculture and animal husbandy Others: Musicianship Home nursing Domestic aide/nanny Social attitudes Are all ethnic and racial groups represented in photos? Perkins was always integrated, but photos show that few students were not caucasian. State funds were available to send children to Perkins were these funds not offered to families of color? ART mostly all are reproduction prints, mostly from the 19th-century, some earlier - these resources are digitized: Portraits People in the field educators, public speakers, etc. Famous or influential people who were blind Art Prints These images are incredibly informative about living conditions, the importance of small dog guides, livelihoods, blindness as a metaphor, and social attitudes, ranging from sentimentality to mockery to genuine compassion. ARTIFACTS Perkins curricular materials Includes tactile diagrams, models, and tactile maps. Embossed books in many writing systems This includes examples of many varieties of 19th-century embossed alphabets, especially Boston Line Type. Point systems include New York Point and American (Modified) Braille. Writing devices There are many braille writers and pre-braille writing devices from the 19 th century, many from Europe. HELEN KELLER AND OTHERS Perkins was where deafblind education was developed. We have a rich collection of material about her and other students who deafblind and their teachers. This includes Laura Bridgman, the first deafblind person to be educated, Anne Sullivan, Kellers teacher, Chan Poh (Theresa) Chan, and many others. Photographs Correspondence Teachers journals Descriptions of educational methods ACCESS TO PERKINS MATERIALS DIGITIZED MATERIALS

Many of our photographs and institutional materials have been digitized, and are available on or We have an easy-to-use finding aid at, with links to the online resources. RESEARCH LIBRARY CATALOG Everything cataloged to the library, and some of the collections of the Archives, is searchable at the Perkins website: CONTACT US! Well do our best to scan things that are not too fragile or lengthy. Email: VISIT US! Scholars and researchers from all over the world visit to study our collections. Youre welcome to come and study our unique historical resources. Jan Seymour-Ford has been the Research Librarian at Perkins School for the Blind for 12 years. She assists in the editing of ICEVIs The Educator, a semiannual international journal for teachers of the blind, and contributed to the writing of Perkins School for the Blind, 2004, by Kimberly French.