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Cora Gleason correspondence and photographs

finding aid


  • Mrs. Florence Cary, collector, photographs
  • Mrs. Carrie Perry, collector, correspondence
  • Perkins School for the Blind, combined collections

Date range:

1885-1948, bulk 1943

Call number:



Cora Gleason worked at Perkins as a home visitor and matron for 40 years, retiring in 1933. This collection includes correspondence between her friends and family discussing the management of Gleason’s affairs and care in her later years. Also included are photographs of children (probably Perkins students), Gleason’s family members, and Gleason with friends, including fellow teachers at Perkins. 


0.5 linear feet (two small manuscript boxes)



Processed by:

Susanna Coit, 2022

Biographical/Historical note:

Cora Gleason first applied for a job at Perkins when she was 16 years old. Although Perkins Director Michael Anagnos believed her to be “too young,” he had her help in the girls’ sewing room where she could also be an interpreter for Laura Bridgman, who was her neighbor in Fisher Cottage from 1882-1888. 

Only four years after Gleason married Arthur Gleason, she was widowed and returned to Perkins, again, seeking employment. She was hired as matron for Brooks cottage and became known as “Mother B.” Before there were many embossed books available, she encouraged and facilitated “a comb orchestra, parlor games, dramatic plays, candy making” and more in the Cottage. She was so successful in her role that she spent a year in 1919 at the Principal of the New York Institute for the Education of the Blind as a “pattern for his housemothers” at the invitation of Edward Van Cleve, the school’s principal.

During her later years, Gleason worked as a home visitor, traveling around northern New England visiting past, present, and potential students and supporters of Perkins. She often reassured and offered light training to the parents she visited and met with doctors, ministers, teachers, and other community members to tell them about Perkins. She also spoke at meetings, conferences, and served as a representative of Perkins. In 1927, Gleason reported making over 700 calls in a year. 

In 1932, she was instrumental in the operations of the Boston Lions Club summer camp in New Hampshire, Camp Allen.

Gleason retired from Perkins in 1933 after working as a home visitor and matron for 40 years. Cora Gleason died on June 17, 1946 at age 85. 

Sources of information:

Allen, Edward E. “Cora L. Gleason.” The Lantern (Vol. XVI, Iss. 1), The Perkins Institution, Watertown MA. September 15, 1946. (Available on the Internet Archive.) 

“Braille Work is Feature of Club Meeting.” Salem News, Salem, MA. November 1927. (Available on the Internet Archive.) 

Gleason, Cora. “Recollections of Laura Bridgman.” The Lantern (Vol. VII, Iss. 2). The Perkins Institution, Watertown MA. December 15, 1937. (Available on the Internet Archive.)

“Will Continue Association with Perkins Institute.” Providence Bulletin. Providence RI. April 28, 1931.




It is the responsibility of the user to obtain permission to publish from the owner of the copyright (the institution, the creator of the record, the author or his/her transferees, heirs, legates, or literary executors). The user agrees to indemnify and hold harmless Perkins School for the Blind, its officers, employees, and agents from and against all claims made by any person asserting that he or she is an owner of copyright. 

Credit line/Citation:

AG133 Cora Gleason correspondence and photographs. Perkins School for the Blind Archives, Watertown, MA.

Scope and contents:

The collection contains correspondence between Cora Gleason’s friends and family related to her care and managing her affairs (financial and caretaking) as she aged. Many of the letters are written to Carrie Walter Perry, a cousin of Gleason. Rehabilitation from a hip injury is also discussed in some correspondence. Correspondence also covers a failed investment with a fruit grove in Puerto Rico (“Porto Rico”) between 1912 and 1925. Photographs are of Cora Gleason with friends at Perkins and family members. There are also photographs of children, possibly students at Perkins, family members, and friends, as well as of Gleason’s husband.


B1:F1 = Box 1: Folder 1

The collection is arranged in two series in two boxes. The correspondence and photographs were grouped and organized prior to processing, and that order has been maintained. 

Series 1: Correspondence

Series 2: Photographs

Container list: 

Box 1: Series 1 (Correspondence)

  • B1:F1: Letter fragments and notes, undated
  • B1:F2: Correspondence to Cora Gleason [“Mother B”], undated, 1943
  • B1:F3: Correspondence from Cora Gleason, undated, 1924-1943
  • B1:F4: Correspondence to Carrie Walter Perry, undated, 1942- August 5, 1943
  • B1:F5: Correspondence to Carrie Walter Perry, August 6, 1943 – 1948
  • B1:F6: Correspondence to [Terry] Dorr, 1943
  • B1:F7: Correspondence from C. Pereley Gray, M.D. to Ms. Blair, 7/19/1943
  • B1:F8: Correspondence from Walter H. Woodson to Cora Gleason, 1912-1925
  • B1:F9: Correspondence to Carrie L. Gleason, undated, 1948

Box 2: Series 2 (Photographs)

  • B2:F1: Unidentified portraits and photograph postcard, undated
  • B2:F2: Photographs of Cora Gleason with friends, 1909, 1942, undated
  • B2:F3: Family photographs, 1885, undated
  • B2:F4: Cora Gleason portraits, undated
  • B2:F5: Photographs of people and places at Perkins, circa 1912-1926
  • B2:F6: Photographs of people and places at Perkins, circa 1896-1903
  • B2:F7: Room at Brooks Cottage, 1896

Related collections:

“Cora Gleason.” Staff Photographs and Educators of the Blind album on Flickr.


Photographs were donated by Mrs. Florence Cary. Correspondence was donated by Mrs. Ethel Perry Sevigny, daughter of Mrs. Carrie Perry. 

Subject headings:

  • Perkins School for the Blind.
  • Perkins School for the Blind–History.
  • Teachers of people who are blind.