Teaching a deaf-mute to talk. Training School for Deaf Mutes, Sulphur, Oklahoma.
Photo: Library of Congress
Digital ID nclc 05255



Entries concerning the history of educational programs including those for the blind, deaf and dumb.


  • Acts And Resolves Relating To The Institution For The Blind (1870)These acts and resolves illustrate the changing population and goals of the Perkins Institution and Massachusetts Asylum for the Blind during the mid-nineteenth century. The asylum initially served a diverse population of pupils that included children from both poor and wealthy families. Like other state-funded institutions for children with disabilities, the student body of the New England Asylum for the Blind gradually began focusing primarily on students from poor and indigent backgrounds.
  • Alexander Graham Bell and His Role in Oral EducationBell continued his lifelong work of promoting oralism through publications, conferences, and other meetings until his death in August 1922. Bell often recollected that his greatest contribution was not the invention of the telephone, but his work in behalf of oral education. He liked to say that he was foremost a teacher of deaf children, as his father was. His enormous influence on deaf education can be traced in the trajectory of oralism and the rise of day schools. By the early twentieth century, oral methods dominated deaf education in the United States.
  • AmericanizationUntil the start of the 20th century, Americans typically believed in the power of the “melting pot” to create a common culture out of the various groups coming to America. However, this surge in immigration led to the creation of Americanization programs.
  • An Apology For Going To College (1905)At times Helen Keller found her college experience frustrating and exhausting, but she gloried in the knowledge she gained. Perhaps even more satisfying to Keller were the new social roles claimed by college-educated women. In this excerpt, Keller discusses the benefits of attending college—an opportunity that had only recently become available to women.
  • Annual Report Of The Trustees Of The New-England Institution For The Education Of The Blind, 1834 Annual reports to state legislatures were one of the key methods by which trustees and superintendents of schools for disabled children argued for additional government funding. In this report, the trustees of the New-England Institution for the Education of the Blind (previously known as the New England Asylum for the Blind and, after 1839, as the Perkins Institution for the Blind) tried to appeal to legislators’ sympathies by stating that the asylum served primarily poor children, documenting the school’s extensive public support, and describing the ways in which pupils were prepared to support themselves after graduation.
  • Because A Father Cared (1960)Because Morley Hudson became convinced that this tragedy had befallen his family for a purpose, the parents of mentally retarded children throughout Louisiana and in several adjoining States now can face the future with serenity and, in many instances, with hope as well.Rotarian Hudson's personal tragedy served as the springboard for the organization of the Caddo-Bossier Association for Mentally Retarded Children. It also proved the stimulant for the almost unbelievable development of the Louisiana Association for Retarded Children. From it, too, have sprung similar organizations in Texas, Arkansas, and Mississippi....
  • Book Relief in MississippiMaking something out of nothing by dint of courage, intelligence and resourcefulness is the record especially of Sunflower, Leflore and Hancock counties. When two county librarians went to work in Sunflower County last June not a library book was available for its 66,000 residents. A county headquarters has been leased from the board of supervisors for five years and today thirteen reading rooms and eighty-five deposit stations are being visited regularly, and 3000 volumes have been begged, borrowed or bought. Like most gift collections, the books include many which few, if any, libraries would purchase. However they also include Treasure Island, Little Women, Five Little Peppers, So Red the Rose, Goodbye Mr. Chips and similar titles. The magazines given in greatest quantity were Good Housekeeping and National Geographic; there are many copies also of Saturday Evening Post, American and Liberty....
  • Dewey, John (1859 - 1952): Educator, Social Reformer, PhilosopherJohn Dewey was the most significant educational thinker of his era and, many would argue, of the 20th century. As a philosopher, social reformer and educator, he changed fundamental approaches to teaching and learning. His ideas about education sprang from a philosophy of pragmatism and were central to the Progressive Movement in schooling.
  • Education Of The Blind (1833)"It has long been to us a matter of surprise that the blind have been so much neglected. Our age, compared with those that have passed away, is truly a humane one; never has more attention been paid to individual man than now; never has the imperative duty of society to provide for the wants of those whom nature or accident has thrown upon its charity, been more deeply felt, or more conscientiously discharged...."
  • Effect of Economic Conditions Upon the Living Standards of Negroes (1928) It has been shown by a study made for the University of Georgia that the Negro in Georgia spends io per cent of his income on food. With the high cost of housing, clothing, etc., he cannot afford more. Add to the limited amount of food its inferior quality and lack of variety, and (because the woman must work) the hastily prepared and irregular meals, and you have a fruitful cause of ill health. Washerwomen often begin early in the morning and do not eat breakfast until noon. They often leave home before breakfast without feeding their children, and the latter eat what is left over from the day before. The Negro is unable to pay now for medical and dental care when necessary. He has always been unable to get credit at drug stores, and there is not enough aggregate capital to provide their own drug stores in many communities; therefore the obtaining of medicine during times of illness is always difficult. He is unable to continue to provide from his own pocket in a group way those health facilities denied him because of race, such as private hospitals and the like.
  • Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965On April 9, 1965 Congress enacted the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) (P.L. 89-10), the most expansive federal education bill ever passed. It is significant to note the bill was enacted less than three months after it was introduced, as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson's "War on Poverty."
  • Farmville Protests of 1963In Virginia, the state government was staunch in its refusal to allow school integration. Initiated by Senator Harry F. Byrd, the policy of Massive Resistance took hold strongly, and the state fought tooth and nail against school integration. By 1958, all of the laws Massive Resistance advocates had used to keep schools segregated were struck down as unconstitutional by Virginia courts, and to circumvent the courts, several public school systems closed entirely in 1959 rather than integrate....But in Prince Edward County and its county seat of Farmville, public schools remained closed until 1964, when the U.S. Supreme Court found that the county was violating the Equal Protection Clause by keeping schools closed.
  • Frazier, Edward FranklinIn Frazier’s view professional social work included speaking out on major issues of the day rather than going along with the status quo. His social work activism went hand-in-hand with his activism and contributions to the black movement in the 1920s. He opposed U.S. participation in World War I because he felt it was hypocritical given the racial discrimination in the United States, and he was also arrested for protesting the movie "Birth of a Nation."
  • Good Citizenship: The Purpose of Education The practical side of good citizenship is developed most successfully in school because in miniature one is living in a society, and the conditions and problems of the larger society are more easily reproduced and met and solved. To accomplish this, however, presupposes a high grade of teaching, a teacher who not only teaches a subject but is always conscious of the relation of the subject to the larger purpose of learning to live.
  • Horace Mann And The Creation Of The Common SchoolLike those of many reformers, Horace Mann’s historical legacy is mixed. Some historians consider his movement as an important step toward a more open and fluid society in which merit would trump birth. Other historians view the common school as a rather blunt tool for social control, one that tended both to stifle intellectual curiosity and to suppress diversity. He certainly sought to universalize the values and beliefs of the mainstream Protestant middle class of the North. The Irish immigrants to Massachusetts were especially vociferous in their condemnation of his Protestant-centered morality and reacted by constructing their own system of parochial schools.
  • Instruction Of Idiots (1849)In consequence of this report, the Legislature, in the spring of 1848, made an annual appropriation of $2,500, for three years, for the purpose of training and teaching ten idiot children, to be selected by the Governor and Council. The trustees of the Asylum for the Blind, under the charge of Dr. Howe, made arrangements for receiving these pupils. The school was opened in the autumn of 1848; and its first annual report, addressed to the Governor, and printed by order of the Senate, is now before us.
  • Kindergarten A Child-Saving Work -1882The whole design of the Kindergarten system is to rear virtuous, self-governing, law-abiding citizens. The Kindergarten system, if faithfully followed, would prevent criminals. And what estimate shall be placed upon an instrumentality which saves the child from becoming a criminal, and thus not only saves the state from the care and expense incident to such reform, but also secures to the state all that which the life of a good citizen brings into it?
  • Kindergarten: Practical Results Of Ten Years' Work - 1889A recognition of the necessity for kindergarten culture, and its speedy adoption by all the States of the Union as a part of the public school system, is a most important and urgent necessity, and would prove of great benefit to the coming generations. It has been delayed, perhaps, not so much from a lack of appreciation of its beneficial results, as from the fact that the masses have not as yet been able to comprehend its educational value. They have looked upon it as a work of charity, and have been unable to grasp the fact that instruction and play can and must go hand in hand.The Kindergarten takes hold of the child at the most important epoch of life,- the formative period. Impressions precede expressions, and we should be most careful that the child receive none but the best impressions, especially when we consider that these will be lasting and affect his whole after life.
  • Kindergartens: A History - 1886To the question, "Do you notice any beneficial effects of the kindergarten upon the children's homes?" the testimony is enthusiastically in the affirmative from all who speak from close and personal observation. As upon the children, so through them, upon the homes, the improvement in cleanliness, tidiness, order, is marked; speech and manners grow gentle, the house becomes an attractive home. "Many mothers have assured the teachers that, through the effect of the kindergarten upon their children, their own thoughts and actions have been influenced. They have learned to realize the duty of being 'good mothers.' Fathers have noticed their boys' interest in the shop-work, and have become more interested in intelligent observation of their own work. The family life has grown more happy."
  • Lincoln University in PennsylvaniaIn 1866, about a year after President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, the school was renamed to Lincoln University. In 1945 Lincoln alumnus, Dr. Horace Mann Bond, was elected to be the first African American president of the University. Lincoln began accepting female students in 1952. In 1972 Lincoln formally associated with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and became a state-related coeducational university. It is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
  • Perkins School for the BlindThe rich history of Perkins began with its founding over 180 years ago as the first school for the blind in the United States. Within a few short years, Perkins became known for its effective instructional techniques, including teaching Laura Bridgman, the first known deafblind person to be educated. Later, Anne Sullivan brought Helen Keller to Perkins. Keller spent her life breaking down barriers and perceptions about what people who are blind or deafblind can accomplish.
  • Prince Edward County, VA School ClosingsIn 1959 Shirley turned 6 years old. Her excitement grew as fall approached because she would be going to school for the first time. What she didn't understand was that 1959 was to be different. The US Federal Court had ordered Prince Edward County, Virginia, where Shirley lived, to desegregate its schools. And the county school board, rather than integrate their system as ordered, closed all the public schools.
  • Public Aid For The Feeble-Minded (1889)" must be an axiomatic proposition that the State should educate all its dependent children. It is not charity: it is simply providing for those of its own household, as when it furnishes schools for the well-endowed. I can see no reason why the means for such education should not be appropriated from the general school fund, without lobbying or begging. The question, then, is, In what respects must this provision for the feeble-minded differ from that given to others?"
  • Public School Classes For Mentally Deficient Children (1904)As interest in child study has increased, educators are beginning to see that one course of study and discipline cannot be fitted to all pupils found in our public schools. Even to-day children unable to keep up to grade are not infrequently accused of indolence or laziness, when the backwardness is due to some mental or physical defect. For many years in this country efforts have been made to care for those who are too defective to be in school, but it is only recently that attention has been given to those who are mentally and physically subnormal. Perhaps none have been more misunderstood than the mentally deficient. Through neglect, these children will degenerate into the ranks of the defectives and the delinquents; through individual training, some can be saved for the social body and the condition of all can be improved.
  • Relation of the Kindergarten to Social Reform: 1888Froebel's idea - the kindergarten idea - of the child and its powers, of humanity and its destiny, of the universe, of the whole problem of living, is somewhat different from that held by the vast majority of parents and teachers. It is imperfectly carried out, even in the kindergarten itself, where a conscious effort is made, and is scarcely ever attempted in the school.His plan of education covers the entire period between the nursery and the university, and contains certain essential features which bear close relation to the gravest problems of the day. If they could be made an integral part of all our teaching in families, schools, and institutions, the burdens under which society is groaning to-day would fall more and more lightly on each succeeding generation. These essential features have often been enumerated. I am no fortunate herald of new truth. I may not even put the old wine in new bottles; but iteration is next to inspiration, and I shall give you the result of eleven years' experience among the children and homes of the poorer classes.
  • Schools for a MinorityTo Americans north and south this Alabama journalist presents the picture of race discrimination in education—a failure of democracy with economic, social and political repercussions throughout our national life.
  • Schools for New Citizens (1941)September . . . a new school term. Not only for America's millions of school children, but for some two and a half million adults, as well. Under the sponsorship of local school boards, WPA, settlements, unions, churches, they study subjects ranging from simple English to international relations, from Diesel-engine operators to dietetics. A class may be homogeneous—like one where thirty native Americans stand crowded in a Mississippi kitchen to learn to read and write their own language; or, in Arizona, where a group of Americans still speaking the language of their Spanish ancestors (who established missions in that territory in 1629) are now discovering their native tongue; or it may be a New York City school room, where students of a dozen different nationalities are also learning English.
  • Schools for New Citizens: 1941A stirring chapter in the history of U. S. education—the Americanization of refugees from Europe—as observed by a writer who recently visited classrooms and agencies in a number of communities.
  • Sunday School Libraries and LessonsThe American Sunday School Movement was an important cultural institution specifically set up to provide citizens with opportunities for Christian moral education. Leaders of this movement lamented the fact that people who, like Horace Mann, were advocates of the "free common school" -- the American Public school system -- neglected the teaching of Christian moral values in favor of training the intellect.
  • The Challenge of the Depression"RETRENCHMENT is in order," some library trustees are reported to have said, both in relation to current expenditures from a normal budget and in connection with the request budget for the coming year. Do these trustees and the public officials know of the heavy increase in reading-room use and book circulation that is universally reported due to enforced leisure and reduction of personal expenditures for commercial recreation? The work of the library, unlike that of many business organizations, grows rather than diminishes in times of depression....
  • The G.I. Bill of RightsBefore World War II, college and home ownership were, for the most part, unreachable dreams for the average American. Thanks to the G.I.Bill, millions who would have flooded the job market instead opted for education. In the peak year of 1947, veterans accounted for 49 percent of college admissions. Millions also took advantage of the G.I. Bill's home loan guaranty.
  • The Place of The Kindergarten in Child-Saving: 1900Perhaps in no field of sociological effort has more intelligent and corrective progress been made, in recent years, than in the treatment of children and the recognition of prenatal influences, which have only recently been regarded as of importance. There has been a constant advance in the recognition of that period in the lives of children when they should become objects of educative and considerate direction. It may be said that, until recently all children were waifs in infancy, so little were their expanding natures understood and cared for along moral and intellectual lines.
  • Towne, Laura MatildaIn 1861, the Sea Islands off the coast of South Carolina fell to the Union army. Faced with defeat, the entire white population fled, leaving their homes, belongings, and ten thousand slaves. Towne arrived on the Sea Islands in April 1862, one of the first Northern women to go south to work during the Civil War. She participated in the Port Royal Experiment, the first large-scale government effort to help former slaves. The teachers who went south sought not only to teach the freedmen how to read and write, but hoped to help them develop socially and morally. They saw themselves as missionaries who would "bring the light of God's truth" to people they assumed were in need of such enlightenment.
  • Twilight, Alexander (1795 - 1857)Alexander Twilight: The First African-American to Earn a Baccalaureate Degree from an American College or University
  • Washington, Booker TaliaferroDuring his era, Booker T. Washington exerted much power on behalf of the African American community. Though many Black intellectuals disagreed with him and his tactics, his way of thinking appealed to many middle and working class Blacks. His connections with the prominent White Americans allowed him to serve as a conduit for funds that served African American community.
  • Washington, Forrester BlanchardAlthough Washington repeatedly attempted to persuade the Roosevelt administration that addressing the challenges faced by African Americans went beyond offering direct relief or common labor, he soon discovered that African Americans were not the primary focus of the administration’s political agenda. He did not want to continue on in a role that he felt would only make African Americans dependent on welfare and subsequently resigned from FERA and returned to Atlanta where he felt he could be more effective as he pursued his interests in social justice for African Americans.
  • Wiggin, Kate Douglas Smith (1856-1923)In 1881, Kate married (Samuel) Bradley Wiggin, a San Francisco lawyer.‪ According to the customs of the time, she was required to resign her teaching job.‪ Still devoted to her school, she began to raise money for it through writing, first The Story of Patsy (1883), then The Birds’ Christmas Carol (1887). Both privately printed books were issued commercially by Houghton Mifflin in 1889, with enormous success. Ironically, considering her intense love of children, Kate Wiggin had none. She moved to New York City in 1888.‪
  • WPA Travelling LibrariesThe depression came and county libraries were sorely stricken financially. Rescuing funds from the Federal government through relief agencies came in the nick of time. Numerous employees were being furloughed, others were having their salaries cut for the third or fourth time, book repair and book purchases had ceased, many buildings were sadly in need of repair and service was cut to the bone in the summer of 1933.