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Perkins School for the Blind

Date Range:

Circa 1906-2012, bulk 1950-1979

Call Number:



This collection of photographic prints documents the products, production, and people associated with the Perkins School for the Blind Howe Press from 1906-2012. The bulk of the collection consists of photographs documenting the production of products and photographs of the products used for marketing, including catalogs. Many of the photographs are associated with stories in the Perkins publication, The Lantern, including stories about Perkins Brailler Milestones.


0.5 linear feet in two 1/2″ O-Ring Preservation Box Albums, one half-size manuscript case with oversized photographs.



Processed by:

Jen Hale, 2023

Processing notes:

Prior to 2023 this collection was originally part of the Photographs in the Archives Collection.

Biographical/Historical notes:

When Michael Anagnos became Perkins’ second director in 1876, the printing department had been producing tactile books for more than 40 years. The press had always struggled for funding, and Anagnos was determined to make it self-sustaining. Anagnos created a $100,000 endowment for the printing department as a consummate fundraiser, renaming it Howe Memorial Press as a tribute to his father-in-law Samuel Gridley Howe, Perkins’ first director.

In the 1880s, Howe Memorial Press began producing books in American Braille as well as in the embossed alphabet Boston Line Type system developed by Samuel Gridley Howe. When standard braille was adopted at Perkins in 1908, the press shifted its production to that system. Howe Press also developed and sold simple mechanical braille writers, maps, slates, ciphering boards, and other school materials used by students with visual impairments nationwide. In 1951 the first Perkins Bailler, designed by David Abraham went on the market. By 1969, over 50,000 machines were in use in 75 countries worldwide. The Perkins Brailler is still manufactured today with only minimal changes to its original design and is used worldwide. 

David Abraham (1896–1978), an English immigrant with a manufacturing background, joined the Perkins Industrial Arts Department in the mid-1930s. Abraham’s manual skills and experience in manufacturing and design brought him to the notice of Director Gabriel Farrell. Abraham agreed to create a prototype of a braille writer that incorporated a list of desirable features. The prototype was a success and is still manufactured as the Perkins Brailler with only minimal changes to its original design. David Abraham went on to become Chief Engineer at Howe Press.

Sources of information:

McGinnity, B.L., Seymour-Ford, J. and Andries, K.J. (2004) Howe Press and the Perkins Brailler. Perkins History Museum, Perkins School for the Blind, Watertown, MA.

Arnott, Jennifer. “Michael Anagnos.” Perkins Archives Blog, Perkins School for the Blind, Watertown MA. December 15, 2022. 


The Perkins Archives reserves the right to deny physical access to materials available in a digital format. 


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:

AG241 Howe Press Photographs Collection. Perkins School for the Blind Archives, Watertown, MA.


The bulk of the collection is photographs of the production process and products. Many of the product shots were used for promotion and catalogs. Products for writing include the easy-read slate, pocket slate, styli and erasers, Dymo tape slate, playing card slate, the folding foot-rule, protractor, the Perkins Braillewriter, the Perkins Brailler, and the Perkins Brailler extension keys. Other products include maps, games, and math and geometry tools.

The bulk of the photographs of people with the Perkins Brailler are taken with Perkins Director Edward J. Waterhouse and Harry J. Friedman, Howe Press Manager. Other figures include David Abraham, the inventor of the Perkins Brailler, and Fred Lehman, foreman of the Howe Press and son-in-law to Abraham. Production photographs of Braillers include ones taken at Howe Press partnerships with the South African National Council for the Blind (SANCB) in Cape Town, South Africa, and the WORTH TRUST in Katpadi, India.


Two albums and one document case arranged by topic and then chronologically within. Box three contains oversized photographs, the bulk of which are card mounted.

Related collections:

Container List:

Box 1: Workshop, Production, and Electrification

  • B1:F1: Howe Press Workshop, circa 1940-1949
  • B1:F2: Production: Appliances, circa 1960-1969
  • B1:F3: Production: Braille, circa 1906-1969
  • B1:F4: Production: Braillers, circa 1950-1969
  • B1:F5: Production: Braillers in South Africa (SANCB), circa 1990-2012
  • B1:F6: Production: Braillers in India (WORTH), 1995
  • B1:F7: Production: Maps, circa 1954-1959
  • B1:F8: Electrification: Brailler and steretype maker, undated

Box 2: Products and Products with people

  • B2:F1: Products: Daisy Point Braille and Point writer, circa 1975
  • B2:F2: Products: Perkins Braillewriter, circa 1991
  • B2:F3: Products: Perkins Brailler with people, 1961-1977
  • B2:F4: Products: Appliances, circa 1960-1979
  • B2:F5: Products: Appliances and cards series with specifications and prices for F.O.B. delivery (international), undated
  • B2:F6: Products: Perkins Braille, circa 1950-1996
  • B2:F7: Products: Games, 1911
  • B2:F8: Products: Stereotyping Machine, circa 1960s


  • B3:F1: Production: Appliances, circa 1965 
  • B3:F2: Production: Braille, 1909, circa 1960s
  • B3:F3: Production: Braillers, 1964
  • B3:F4: Production: Braillers from “The Perkins Brailler: A Brief History,” 1969
  • B3:F5: Electrification: Brailler and steretype maker, undated
  • B3:F6: Products: Perkins Braillewriter, circa 1991
  • B3:F7: Products: Perkins Brailler with people, 1977


Perkins School for the Blind

Subject headings:

  • Accessible game.
  • Blind–Printing and writing systems.
  • Friedman, Harry J.
  • Howe Memorial Press.
  • Maps for people who are blind.
  • Perkins School for the Blind.
  • Perkins School for the Blind–History.
  • Perkins School for the Blind. Howe Press.
  • Waterhouse, Edward J., 1902-1999.

Explore more resources from the Archives

Learn more about our collections, including digitized materials, and resources related to the history of Perkins School for the Blind and the history of education for people with blindness or deafblindness.