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As the first school established for the blind in the United States, Perkins plays an important role in the history of education in America. More than 175 years ago, Perkins? Founders were committed to opening the doors to education, literacy, and independence for people who are blind and deafblind.

Samuel Gridley Howe,the first director of the Perkins School for the Blind, aspired to teach his students to see the world using the eyes in their fingertips. His mission was to adapt all educational methods to this new way of learning. Because so few Books for the Blind were available, Howe devised his own system for printing and reading and began publishing books on campus. In addition to producing tactile books, the Howe Press perfected the mechanical braille typewriter. Worldwide, the Perkins Brailler is considered the pen and pencil for people who are blind, even today.

The legacies of Laura Bridgman, Anne Sullivan, and Helen Keller can be felt everywhere on campus. Perkins? best-known student, Helen Keller, flourished while studying here and is highly regarded around the world for her efforts to assure equal benefits and full rights for all people, particularly those with disabilities. In addition, there are a number of Famous People in history who contributed to the Perkins heritage.

The Perkins Museum traces the history of educating students who are blind or deafblind in many disciplines including Reading and Writing, Geography, Math, Science, Music, and Sports. The museum showcases the school?s rich history captured in original correspondence, photographs, and tactile images?including the oldest and largest tactile globe in the United States. We invite you to explore our collection.

Gallery guides for the Perkins History Museum were prepared by Betsy L. McGinnity, Museum Curator, Jan Seymour-Ford, Research Librarian and Kathleen J. Andries, Volunteer.

Photograph. Photograph.  A formal portrait showing a child reading a raised print book with his fingers to three younger students standing at a table, ca. 1900.  Two boys and a girl standing next to science projects:  a plasticene chart of the solar system, a volcano, and dinosaurs and amphibians made of plasticene, ca. 1940.  Anne Sullivan fingerspelling into a young Helen Keller?s hand, ca. 1889.  Young men and boys with brass instruments, ca. 1860.
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175 North Beacon Street
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Watertown, Massachusetts 02472
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Fax 617-926-2027
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Phone 617-924-3434
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