Petition Against Cold Water Bathing at Perkins Institution, 1872

Handwritten document of the petition

Handwritten document with paragraph of text at the top and two columns of signatures in various colors and types of ink.

March 12, 2014

Samuel Gridley Howe, Perkins Founding Director, was a staunch supporter of the practice of cold water bathing. A daily plunge into cold water (indoors) was a central part Howe's strategy to improve the physical fitness of children who were blind, which also included regular exercise.  The cold water was not only believed to have invigorating health benefits, but also as a tool to improve moral agency.

For an in depth look at the practice read Samuel Gridley Howe's report on "Bodily Training, Cold Bathing, &c" in the Perkins Annual Report, 1872

As you might imagine, many failed to embrace the cold bath. The following document is a petition signed by 65 individuals to end the practice at the Perkins Institution on a compulsory basis:

Full text: The undersigned, believing that the indiscriminate use of the cold plunge bath as ordered and practiced compulsorily at the Perkins Institution for the Blind, to be abusive and injurious, do therefore  respectfully petition the Trustees of said Institution, that the regulation requiring said baths to be taken by all the students may be modified or abolished, so that the taking of the baths be made optional with the students, their parents or guardians. [65 names signed below].

Handwritten document with paragraph of text at the top and two columns of signatures in various colors and types of ink.

Handwritten document with paragraph of text at the top and two columns of signatures in various colors and types of ink.