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Teacher journals of Laura Bridgman and other pupils in the deafblind program collection

finding aid


  • Drew, Lydia, author
  • Rogers, Eliza, author
  • Swift, Mary, author
  • Wight, Sarah, author

Date Range:

1841- 1849

Call Number:



Eighteen journals with detailed accounts by teachers at the Perkins Institution (now Perkins School for the Blind) of daily activities, lessons, travel, interactions between the students, conversations, thoughts, and temperament of students who were deafblind,  including Laura Bridgman and Helen Keller. The collection spans 1841-1899.


1.25 linear ft.



Processed by:

Unknown. Updated by Jen Hale 2022 to list all boxed volumes as boxes, making box 2, box 15.

Biographical/Historical notes:

Laura Dewey Bridgman (1829-1889), born in Hanover, New Hampshire was the first child with deafblindness to gain a significant education. Bridgman entered the Perkins School for the Blind just before her eighth birthday and became a pupil of Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe, the schools’ first director. Howe taught Bridgman the English language via embossed materials and later the manual alphabet. Howe’s accounts of Laura Bridgman gained international attention, including that of Charles Dickens who wrote about Bridgman in his book American Notes. Among the other pupils at Perkins with deafblindness, was Oliver Caswell whom Bridgman delighted in teaching. Other students include Frank, Susan, and Lucy (last names unknown).


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Credit line/Citation:

AG52 Teacher Journals of Laura Bridgman and other Deafblind Pupils Collection. Perkins School for the Blind Archives, Watertown, MA.


Detailed accounts of daily activities, lessons, travel, interactions between the students, conversations, thoughts and temperament of students with deafblindness at the Perkins Institution (now Perkins School for the Blind) including Laura Bridgman, Oliver Caswell, and others. Contains pencil notes in the margin highlighting sections and quotes. The bulk of the content surrounds Laura Bridgman, who is sometimes referred to as “L”.


1 Series:  1 box with 14 journals (boxed individually)

Related Materials:

Digital reproductions of the teacher journals of Laura Bridgman and other deafblind pupils, are available online on the Internet Archive.

Container List

  • Box 1: June 1, 1841-Jan. 5, 1842
    • Authored by teacher Mary Swift. Documented students include Laura Bridgman (bulk), Lucy, and Oliver Caswell. Note: On June 9, Laura Bridgman asks who made water, and Dr. Howe answers. Aug 16, Bridgman, writing a sentence about Aug 14 outing with “J” (Jeannette) and Samuel Gridley Howe. Broken cover, possibly some water damage.
  • Box 2: June 22, 1841-Oct. 26, 1841
    • Authored by teachers [Lydia] Drew, and Mary Swift, documenting students, Laura Bridgman, Oliver Caswell, and others (Lucy, David, William, Abby, Olive, Robert, Sophia). Note: Mary Swift see October 8.
  • Box 3: Jan. 6, 1842-Jan. 3, 1843
    • Authored by teachers Eliza Rogers and Mary Swift, documenting students Laura Bridgman and Oliver Caswell. Note: Orrin’s death Aug 20-21. Back page contains a list of books in the Boys School. In poor condition with broken binding and water damage. 
  • Box 4: May 8, 1842-April 4, 1843
    • Authored by teachers Eliza Rogers and Sarah Wight, documenting students Oliver Caswell, Julia, Laura Bridgman, and others (Betsey, Dorothy, Louisa, Susan, and Rebecca). Note On September 13, Laura Bridgman leaves for vacation in Hanover with “Morton and J.”
  • Box 5: Jan. 4, 1843-April 1, 1843
    • Authored by teacher Mary Swift, documenting student Laura Bridgman.
  • Box 6: April. 10, 1843-Sept. 28, 1843
    • Authored by teacher [Lydia] Drew, documenting student Laura Bridgman. Includes letter about visit of Julia Brace on April 14, 1843, letters to Julia Ward Howe and Samuel Gridley Howe on August 13, 1843, and a July 7 visit to menagerie.
  • Box 7: May 31, 1843-Feb. 2, 1844
    • Authored by teacher Sarah Wight and Eliza Rogers, documenting students Oliver Caswell, Frank, and Susan. Includes transcripts of letters from Oliver Caswell to SGH and to his family home. Entries from this journal appear in The Education of Laura Bridgman, by Mary Swift Lamson.
  • Box 8: Oct. 26, 1843-March 1844
    • Authored by “Miss Rogers takes over,” documenting student Laura Bridgman. Note: Includes letters to Samuel Gridley Howe.
  • Box 9: Feb. 12, 1844-Sept. 17, 1845, winter term Nov. 1845-Feb. 13, 1846
    • Authored by instructor [Eliza Rogers], documenting students, Laura Bridgman and Oliver Caswell, and others (Frank, Susan). Note: Mentions Susan and Fran’s prayers.
  • Box 10: March 12, 1844-Sept. 14, 1844
    • Authored by teacher Mary Swift, documenting student Laura Bridgman. Includes Transcripts of letters from Laura Bridgman to Samuel Gridley Howe, Julia Ward Howe, Dr. Clifford, and others.
  • Box 11: June 1, 1844-Sept. 16, 1844
    • Authored by teachers, Mr. Park and unidentified, documenting the general progress of male students, (Lorenzo, Albus Lorenzo, Theodore Datton, Joseph Blaisdell, Joseph Hatton, Enoch, Henry [Thayer], Cornelius McCullough, Cornelius Smith, Edward Smith, Montgomery, George Nichols, George Osgood, Cyrus, David, Austin Johnson, Charles [Wild], Ross [Feasler], Augustus Goddard, Richard, William, Andrew, and John Drew. Cover of journal reads,“Notes of Examination” First page reads, “Journal of the Boys School summer term 1844.”
  • Box 12: Nov. 11, 1844-May 1, 1845
    • Authored by unidentified teacher documenting student Laura Bridgman.
  • Box 13: Aug. 29, 1845-Feb. 1846, Hanover June 1846-Sept. 1846, and Jan. 1847-Oct. 1847
    • Authored by teacher [Sarah Wight]. The cover is broken and there are notes in pencil in the margin. Pages 43-44 are missing.
  • Box 14: Oct. 12, 1848-Nov. 10, 1849
    • Authored by Sarah Wight documenting student Laura Bridgman. The journal is half the size of the others, possibly a large amount of pages have been ripped out. Child-like doodles cover front and back covers. Notes in pencil made in the margins. 
  • Box 15: 1897-1899
    • Featuring students, Helen Keller, Tommy Stringer, and “Willie” Elizabeth Robin

Subject headings:

  • Perkins School for the Blind.
  • Perkins School for the Blind–History.
  • Children who are deafblind.
  • Children who are deafblind–Education.
  • Bridgman, Laura Dewey, 1829-1889
  • Howe, S. G. (Samuel Gridley), 1801-1876
  • Teachers of people who are deafblind

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.