From Summer Institute to National Expert

The covers of two books written by Polly Moor

Polly Moor was a national expert on preschool education for children who are blind.

June 8, 2018

After graduating from Smith College in 1940 with a graduate degree in Child Development, Pauline (Polly) Moor worked in a research program at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Hospital. She worked with Dr. Theodore Terry as his team’s Educator and Child Development Specialist. She used her experience as a teacher to guide and advise parents, educators, and families while they were involved with Dr. Terry.

During the summer of 1945, Moor served as director of the nursery program during the Summer Institute at Perkins School for the Blind. Mothers attended lectures, workshops, and classes about raising a child who is blind, while the children would play together under the care of Moor and her staff. The December 15, 1946 issue of The Lantern included a report from Moor about her work titled "Training for the Young Blind Child."  After the Summer Institute, Moor continued to work with the families as part of a joint program between Dr. Terry's team at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Hospital and Perkins, as reported in the 1946 Annual Report. Director Gabriel Farrell notes that Moor "has done a fine piece of work in establishing contacts with the parents and advising them in the care of their children." Her work with families continued in 1947 as the Annual Report says that she has made "226 visits in 41 homes and has brought many mothers practical advice and help in training their children." The 1949 Summer Institute is announced in the June 15, 1949 issue of The Lantern. 

In 1952, Moor was hired by the American Foundation for the Blind as National Consultant in Early Childhood. She became known as the national expert on preschool education for children who are blind. She provided guidance for programs as they opened across the country, participated in and presented at numerous conferences worldwide, and wrote and contributed to books and pamphlets. She is best known, perhaps, for her two publications, No Place to Go and No Time to Lose. In her book Mini-Steps and Milestones: A History of Services for Young Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired, Virginia E. Bishop wrote that Moor’s work helped “accelerate mainstreaming for blind children” (9).

I recently processed the Pauline Moor Collection. The collection includes items representing Moor’s high school experience and her time at Smith College as both an undergraduate and a graduate student. I read Bishop’s book while creating the finding aid to learn more about Moor and her work. The records from Smith College in the collection are evidence of what kind of student Moor was, but Bishop’s description of Moor’s work shows that her dedication and hard work continued after her formal education. Her work with Perkins is just another example of Perkins' innovative work.