Digital Commonwealth

Students with Deafblindness at the Perkins School for the Blind

Perkins School for the Blind

This is a collection of photographs of students, as well as their teachers, at the Perkins School for the Blind from 1890 to 1950. The students, ranging in age from kindergarten to adulthood, are shown in formal portraits, as well as in their daily activities. The collection highlights various communication methods used with people with a combined vision and hearing loss, including tactile sign language and the Tadoma method. Most are black and white photographs.

Perkins is the oldest school for the blind in the United States. The formal education of children with deafblindness began with Laura Bridgman in 1837. Helen Keller was perhaps the best known of the students with deafblindness at Perkins, but the school has served many others with a dual sensory loss and continues to educate deafblind students today.

Throughout its history, Perkins has attracted visitors from around the world. One of its first prominent guests was Charles Dickens, who visited in 1842 and wrote about the experience in his book American Notes. This book caught the attention of Helen Keller’s mother, and prompted her to contact the school in search of assistance to educate her daughter.

For more information please visit: Deafblind, McGinnity, B.L., Seymour- Ford, J. and Andries, K.J. (2004). Perkins History Museum, Perkins School for the Blind, Watertown, MA.

We invite you to submit your comments, if you recognize someone in the photos, or if you have additional information to share.

Visit for more information about the Perkins Archives.

Rights and Permissions: All images in this collection are the property of Perkins School for the Blind. Use of these images requires written permission. For more information, please contact the Research Librarian at

Note: Some of the images have been enhanced to improve visibility, such as brightness and contrast or to remove dust and scratches.

Locations in this Collection: