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Acts And Resolves Relating To The Institution For The Blind (1870)

Acts And Resolves Relating To The Institution For The Blind (1826 – 1865)

A Report from the  Thirty-Eighth Annual Report Of The Trustees Of The Perkins Institution And Massachusetts Asylum 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. Moreover, although Howe had hoped to use the asylum to integrate blind people into mainstream society, his results fell short of his optimistic ideals. Rapid industrialization and mechanization made it ever more difficult for blind graduates to find self-sustaining work. In the 1840s, Howe belatedly acknowledged this fact and established a workshop at the asylum to employ his former students.


ACTS, chap. 113. Incorporation, March 2. (Abstract thereof.)

Sect. 1. Incorporating Jonathan Phillips, William Prescott, and others, as the New England Asylum for the Blind.

Sect. 2. Authorizing them to hold property for the maintenance of the Asylum, the income thereof not to exceed $30,000.

Sect. 3. Providing for the admission of State beneficiaries, not to exceed thirty, the same to be selected by the legislature, or some officer thereto appointed.

Sect. 4. Twelve trustees to have charge of the Asylum; eight of them to be chosen by the Corporation, and four by the Board of Visitors.

Sect. 5. The Corporation to appoint officers, and make regulations for the management of the Asylum.

Sect. 6. The Governor, Lieutenant-Governor, President of the Senate, and Speaker of the House, with the Chaplains of the Legislature, to constitute a Board of Visitors.

Sect. 7. The State to pay for its beneficiaries at the rate fixed by the Corporation for other inmates.

Sect. 8. Authorizing change of name, when deemed expedient.

Sect. 9. Provision for calling first meeting.


RESOLVES, chap. 81. Allowing the unexpended balance of the appropriation for the deaf and dumb to be paid to the New England Asylum for the Blind the current year, and from time to time thereafter, upon the Governor’s warrant, unless other disposition thereof be made by the General Court.


Institution organized under direction of Sam’l G. Howe.


RESOLVES, chap. 28. $6,000 to be paid annually, during the pleasure of the legislature: provided, that in consideration of this and formerrants, (i.e., of the unexpended balance of the deaf and dumb appropriation,) the Asylum shall care for twenty poor persons belonging to the State, to be selected by the Governor and Council, and to be dismissed from the Asylum by them, — the State beneficiaries not to be under six nor over twenty-four years old.

RESOLVES, chap. 36. Giving the power of selection of State beneficiaries to the Governor alone.


RESOLVES, chap. 49. Allowing $9,000 annually, on condition that the Asylum shall receive forty State beneficiaries, if so many shall be recommended, in accordance with the Resolves of 1833, chaps. 28 and 36. All previous grants repealed.


RESOLVES, chap. 77. Appropriating $5,000 for a work-shop for adults provided the Asylum add thereto a like sum, and any other sums that may be necessary to complete the building.


RESOLVES, chap. 62. Increasing the annual appropriation to $12,000, commencing April 1, 1855.


RESOLVES, chap. 51. Appropriating $3,000 in addition to the regular amount, ($12,000,) provided the trustees admit all such persons as the Governor may designate, and educate them gratuitously.


RESOLVES, chap. 84, 1862, and chap. 65, 1863, repeat the preceding grant.


RESOLVES, chap. 56. Increasing the annual appropriation from $12,000 to $16,000, provided that the trustees shall receive and gratuitously educate all such indigent persons, or the children of indigent persons, as the Governor may designate, and that no charge shall be made to the Commonwealth for clothing furnished to State beneficiaries.

ACTS, chap. 96. The Governor to annually appoint four trustees, who shall hold office one year, or until their successors are appointed. Vacancies occurring by death or resignation to be filled by the Governor. Such portion of chap. 113 of the Acts of 1828, as authorizes the appointment of trustees by a Board of Visitors, is repealed. This Act not to take effect until accepted by the Corporation, at a meeting to be called for that purpose.


RESOLVES, chap. 17. The trustees to fix the price for beneficiaries, with Governor’s approval, the amount to be fixed in each case with reference to the ability of beneficiaries, or their parents, to contribute to their support.

Source: Perkins School for the Blind. Disability History Museum,


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