Atlas for the Blind, 1837

Map of New York


In 1837, the New England Institution for the Education of the Blind, now the Perkins School, published its Atlas of the United States: printed for the use of the blind.  The first institute of its kind in the U.S., Perkins was soon publishing books under the leadership of its director, Samuel Gridley Howe, using a method of embossing text and lines on the page.  Louis Braille’s method, an improvement upon the technique known as sonography, was first seen in a published work in 1829 but would not become widely used until after his death in 1852.  British author Charles Dickens would be impressed enough to have the Perkins printing department publish an edition of his book, The Old Curiosity Shop, and, after visiting the institution, he would write about it in another work, American Notes.  It would be this book that gave hope to Kate Adams Keller that her blind and deaf daughter could be educated, and by 1887 Perkins would send graduate Anne Sullivan to begin the process of teaching the young Helen Keller.


Detail of Lake Erie

 The B&ECPL’s copy of the Atlas resides in the Rare Book Room after an unknown amount of years spent at the Lancaster Public Library.  Shown are images of the maps depicting New York State and Lake Erie.


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