Laura M. Sawyer Papers

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


Perkins School for the Blind

Date Range: 
1836-1925, bulk 1907-1916
Call number: 

A collection documenting the work of Laura M. Sawyer during her time as Librarian at Perkins between 1898 and 1925. Includes administrative records, books lists, correspondence, lecture notes, and general notes.

1.25 linear feet, 2 manuscript boxes, 1 custom box
Primarily English; German, French
Processed by: 

Susanna Coit, 2018

Biographical/Historical notes: 

Laura M. Sawyer began her work at Perkins School for the Blind as an assistant in the library between 1898 and 1903. She served as librarian with Sarah E. Lane from 1903 until Lane retired in 1911. Sawyer continued as the Librarian until her death in 1925.

During her time at Perkins, she worked with the Harvard extension courses with Edward E. Allen. Fish wrote that Sawyer became “Allen’s right hand in carrying on of the course and  a tower of strength to the many who came to draw upon her limitless fund of information and upon her unwearied patience in assisting them” (Fish, 52). She worked with and served both pupils at Perkins and people throughout New England as she advanced accessibility of library materials. She was an advocate of creating a national lending program and was the head of the American Library Association advocacy committee with the American Foundation for the Blind. As part of her work, she created a catalog of the books in the Perkins Library that expanded to lists of embossed accessions, and other braille books that were available for people who were blind. She also curated annual lists of magazine articles about the blind for Outlook for the Blind. With her focus on advancements and the circulation of embossed materials, Sawyer was instrumental in the founding and creation of the library at Perkins as it currently exists.

Following Allen’s trip to Europe, Sawyer communicated with Alexander Mell (of Vienna) to establish the Blindiana collection at Perkins (Fish, 51). She also taught library classes at Simmons College about the history of Perkins, the Perkins Library, and library services for the blind.

Sources of information: 

Fish, Anna Gardner. “Laura M. Sawyer, Ave et Vale.” Outlook for the Blind, Vol. XIX, No. 1, 1925, pp. 9, 45, 51-52.

Credit line/Citation: 
Laura M. Sawyer Papers, Perkins School for the Blind

This collection documents the work of Perkins Librarian Laura M. Sawyer between 1898 and 1925. Included are book lists from other countries, schools, and publishers as well as correspondence from librarians. Notes prepared by and lectures given by Sawyer, including those given at Simmons College, are also included. The collection also holds records of library administration and Sawyer’s administrative work in the library.


B1:F1 = Box 1: Folder 1

LMS = Laura M. Sawyer

5 Series, 2 boxes arranged chronologically when possible

Series 1: Book Lists

Series 2: Correspondence

Series 3: Notes and Lectures

Series 4: Library Account Books

Series 5: Librarian Notes

Container List: 

Box: 1

Series 1:

B1:F1: German booklists, 1908-1914

B1:F2: French booklists, undated

B1:F3: North American booklists, 1914, undated

B1:F4: Perkins booklists, 1910, 1911, 1914, undated

B1:F5: Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh booklist, 1910-1912

B1:F6: List of Personal Donations to Printing Books, 1836-1912

Series 2:

B1:F7: Correspondence: A. Mell, 1909-1912

B1:F8: O.H. Burritt to LMS, 1907

B1:F9: Gustav Fock to LMS, 1907

B1:F10: Western Pennsylvania School for the Blind to LMS, 1907

B1:F11: C.A. Koehler & Co. to LMS, 1908

B1:F12: Mrs. Salome Cutler Fairchild to LMS, 1908

B1:F13: The British and Foreign Blind Association to LMS, 1908, 1915

B1:F14: Brooklyn Public Library to LMS, 1911

B1:F15: Miscellaneous correspondence

B1:F16: Notebook of Letters and Orders send by LMS, 1907-1918

B1:F17: Record of Letters and Endorsements from LMS, 1918-1925

Series 3:

B1:F18: Notes: General History, May 20, 1908

B1:F19: Notes: Library for Teachers, Nov. 1909

B1:F20: Simmons, 1911, 1912

B1:F21: Library Work for the Blind, Simmons College, Nov. 12, 1914

B1:F22: Simmons College Lectures, 1916, 1921

B1:F23: List of embossed books, timeline of library, undated

B1:F24: Types for the Blind, undated

B1:F25: I. History of the School and Library, undated

B1:F26: Notes: Perkins Inst. Library, undated

B1:F27: Miscellaneous notes, undated

Box 2:

Series 3:

B2:F1: Library Account Book, 1906-1911

B2:F2: Library Account Book II, 1911-1923

B2:F3: LMS Files, 1907

Box 3:

Series 4:

Perkins Library Notes (cards), undated

Subject Headings: 

Perkins School for the Blind.

Perkins School for the Blind--History.

School librarians.

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