Department of Special Studies Collection

Samuel P. Hayes Research Library
Perkins School for the Blind
175 N. Beacon Street
Watertown, MA 02472


Perkins School for the Blind

Date Range: 
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The collection consists of correspondence, administrative reports, research reports and student schoolwork related to the Department of Special Studies at the Perkins School for the Blind (1926-1932). The content focuses on the establishment of the Department and the research conducted within the Department and by its Director, Frieda Kiefer Merry.

1 box (0.5 linear feet)
Processed by: 

Erinn Rhodes, 2018

Biographical/Historical notes: 

The Department of Special Studies was founded in 1927 through a joint partnership between the Perkins School for the Blind and the American Foundation for the Blind. The partnership created an experimental school in the primary grades of the Perkins School that allowed for an opportunity to research innovative teaching methods. Kathryn Maxfield, a research psychologist, served as the Supervisor of Education Research at the American Foundation for the Blind and Frieda Kiefer Merry, a clinical psychologist, was the Resident Director and Supervisor of the program at Perkins. Edward E. Allen was the Director of the Perkins School at the time and oversaw the establishment of the program. The program came to an end in 1932.

Sources of information: 

Koestler, Frances A. The Unseen Minority: A Social History of Blindness in the United States. New York: American Foundation for the Blind Press, 2004.

Access to files containing student evaluations are restricted. Folders containing restricted files are noted in the container list. Please consult the supervising archivist for access.
Credit line/Citation: 
Department of Special Studies Collection, Perkins School for the Blind

The collection includes correspondence, administrative reports, research reports and student schoolwork related to the Department of Special Studies at the Perkins School for the Blind (1926-1932). The bulk of the correspondence are letters from the Resident Director, Frieda Kiefer Merry (aka Frieda A. Kiefer). Additional correspondence appears from Edward Allen, Kathryn Maxfield, Robert Irwin, Otis Coldwell, and O.H, Burritt. Some correspondence documents are copies to Edward Allen's files. Most correspondence is typed. Administrative reports primarily include the interval progress reports of Frieda Kiefer Merry of her work at the school. These reports are typically included as copies to Edward Allen (sometimes with included cover correspondence) and summarize experimental and educational work, psychological testing, and administrative work undertaken during the periods described in the report. Also included are reports of the Education Advisory Committee of the American Foundation for the Blind. The research studies and publications document the studies undertaken at the school. Some reports include related correspondence. Topics covered include the use of case studies in schools for the blind, socialization skills, use of animal models in teaching blind children, methods to teach braille writing and reading, assessing proper diet, and teaching of arithmetic. Some of the standardized testing included Otis Intelligence testing (1929, restricted), Seashore Tests of Musical Talent (1930, restricted), Wisconsin Inventory Tests in Arithmetic (1930), Stevenson Arithmetic Reading Test (1930), and Wilson’s Language Test (circa 1931). Student schoolwork includes a series of poems written by second grade boys in 1929 and a compilation entitled “Poems and Stories for Boys and Girls (Original and Re-told)” by the Children of the Lower School, Perkins Institution (1929).


The collection is housed in one box and is arranged in four series. The content in each series has been arranged chronologically.

The following abbreviations are used:

B1:F1 = Box 1: Folder 1

The Series are arranged as follows:

Series 1: Correspondence, 1926-1931

Series 2: Administrative reports, 1927-1931

Series 3: Research studies and publications, 1927-1932

Series 4: Student schoolwork, 1929

Container List: 

Box: 1

Series 1:

B1:F1: Correspondence, 1926-1928
[Contains restricted files]

B1:F2: Correspondence, 1928-1930

B1:F3: Correspondence, 1930
[Contains restricted files]

B1:F4: Correspondence, 1930-1931
[Contains restricted files]

Series 2:

B1:F5: Administrative reports, 1927-circa 1930
[Contains restricted files]

B1:F6: Administrative reports, 1930-1931
[Contains restricted files]

Series 3:

B1:F7: Research studies and publications, 1927-1928
[Contains restricted files]

B1:F8: Research studies and publications, 1929
[Contains restricted files]

B1:F9: Research studies and publications, 1929-1932

[Contains restricted files]

Series 4:

B1:F10: Student schoolwork, 1929

Perkins School for the Blind
Subject Headings: 

Allen, Edward E.

American Foundation for the Blind

Blind -- Education

Merry, Frieda Kiefer

Perkins School for the Blind.

Perkins School for the Blind--History.

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