Digital Commonwealth

Perkins Postcards

Perkins School for the Blind

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This collection consists of postcards of the Perkins campus at its former locations in South Boston, the first kindergarten for the blind in Jamaica Plain, and Perkins' current location in Watertown, Massachusetts. The images are in both black and white and color and include views of the campus, as well as students doing various activities in their daily routines. A number of the postcards have messages on the reverse, some of which discuss Perkins, and some of which are general correspondence. A group of the photos were taken by well-known photographer Margaret Bourke-White.

Perkins is the oldest school for the blind in the United States. Since its incorporation in 1829, it has had a number of different names, as well as various locations in the greater Boston area. Under the leadership of its first director, Samuel Gridley Howe, the New England Asylum for the Blind opened its doors in August of 1832 at 140 Pleasant Street in Boston. In 1833, the school moved to a house on Pearl Street that had been donated by Colonel Thomas Handasyd Perkins, a wealthy merchant and philanthropist. Perkins later allowed the property to be sold to enable the school to purchase a former hotel in South Boston, and the school moved there in May 1839. In recognition of his generosity, the Board of Trustees named the school the Perkins Institution and Massachusetts Asylum for the Blind. In 1887, the second director of Perkins, Michael Anagnos, founded the first kindergarten for the blind, located in Jamaica Plain. The school moved to its current location in Watertown in 1912, where it is located on a 38.5 acre property on the banks of the Charles River.

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.

Additional Information:
More information about Perkins School Development is available on the Perkins History Museum section of perkins.org.

Visit perkins.org/archives for more information about the Perkins Archives.

Rights and Permissions: Use of the images from the collection of Perkins School for the Blind requires written permission. For more information, please visit perkins.org/image-licensing or contact the Archivist at archives@perkins.org

Locations in this Collection: