The Perkins Archives house institutional records as well as collections documenting the history of education for people with blindness or deafblindness.
The Perkins Archives program supports the mission of Perkins and the Samuel P. Hayes Research Library by preserving and providing access to its historical records and collections.
Perkins archivists care for a wide variety of materials, including photographs, documents, tactile objects, films, audio recordings and books–in both print and braille. The collection is local, national and international in scope. Through archival practices and preservation efforts—particularly digitization—the Perkins Archives continues to make its collections available and accessible to the public.
Perkins pioneered the work of educating students who are blind and deafblind. The first school for the blind chartered in the United States, Perkins has remained a leader in the field for nearly 180 years. The Perkins Archives document both the evolution of these fields of knowledge and of the gradual inclusion of people with visual impairments into mainstream society.
Many of the discoveries and achievements that fueled those changes occurred at Perkins—the first child with deafblindness to be formally educated, the first kindergarten for children who are blind, one of the first mechanical writing devices and the first lending library of tactile books.
No other American institution is as closely connected to these changes as Perkins. Thanks to institutional collecting practices begun in the 19th century, Perkins Archives holds and makes available unique collections that are essential in tracing the arc of that development all over the world.
Explore a variety of materials stored in the Perkins Archives, many of which have been digitized and made available online.
Digitized and described collections, that include photographs, photographed artifacts, and scanned manuscripts with transcription.
Links to online resources from the Perkins Archives related to Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan.
Information about our policies, including how to use our images and request digitization or scanning, our collection development and access policies and our digital preservation plan.
Collection of films produced by Perkins spanning 1923-1985. The films are provided with audio description, closed captioning and include a downloadable transcript.
The Perkins Museum tells the story of Perkins and traces the history of educating students who are blind or deafblind. A virtual version of museum content is available.
The Perkins Archives Newsletter is a quarterly update on our activities, special projects, and more. It is a great way to find out about the latest processed collections and newly digitized materials, and to learn more about the items and stories that can be found in these collections.
Dr. Elisabeth Gitter Author of The Imprisoned Guest: Samuel Howe and Laura Bridgman, the Original Deaf-Blind Girl
“To describe the historical materials at Perkins as a national treasure is no exaggeration: these letters and journals delineate the development of America’s awareness of the needs and capabilities of the disabled and a vision for their integration into the larger society.”
Explore some of our favorite and most recommended historical resources.
An online exhibit about the Perkins contribution to relief efforts following the Halifax Explosion of 1917.
A brief timeline of Helen Keller’s life and work.
The Friendship of Perkins’ Students Edith Thomas and Willie Elizabeth Robin
Learn about the latest processed collection with the finding aid for: Deafblind Department Hearing Aid Collection, 1920s-2000s, bulk 1960-1970s.
Explore the Teacher Training Program’s 1925-1984 photograph collection.
Read the latest issue of the Perkins Archives Newsletter emailed quarterly.
We are glad to help. Please visit the Hayes Research Library’s School Project Resources page to get started.
We are glad to help. Please contact the Research Library to get started. It helps us to know:
Join us on Instagram to see more of our collection every week! Follow @PerkinsArchives on Instagram to learn more about the items and stories in our collections.