Thomas Stringer 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: 
Call number: 
2 linear feet
Processed by: 

Elizabeth Constanti, 2014. This collection was processed with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Division of Preservation and Access, Washington, D.C., 2012-2015.

Biographical/Historical notes: 

Thomas (Tommy) Stringer was born in Washington, Pennsylvania on July 3, 1886 and became deafblind after contracting spinal meningitis in infancy. Until the age of five he was living in hospitals and almshouses, as his mother had died and his father was poor and could not help.

When she was 10 years old, Helen Keller learned of Tommy's situation and became intent on helping him. Keller was instrumental in to paying for his education at Perkins by soliciting the help of donors. When Tommy arrived at Perkins in 1891, he was extremely feeble from having spent his first five years mostly confined to a bed. Tommy’s fellow deafblind classmates at Perkins include Edith Thomas, Willie Elizabeth Robin, and Helen Keller.

Tommy later became an extremely active child interested in mathematics, construction and other labors. He was especially skilled at woodworking. He learned to communicate with the manual alphabet and achieved limited speech while at Perkins. He spent many summers on a farm in Wrentham, Massachusetts where, among other activities, he built railings and plucked chickens.

Tommy Stringer died in 1945 in Fulton, New York where he lived with Mr. Lee Edgarton since leaving Perkins in 1913. 

Sources of information: 

The Lantern. Vol 15 Issue 1. 1945. Pg. 5.:

Fish, Anna Gardner. "Thomas Stringer" in The blind-deaf : A monograph, being a reprint of The Deaf-Blind, with revision and additions / Wade, William. Indianapolis IN: Hecker Brothers, 1904.

Helen Keller FAQ:

Ellis, William (1897). "Helen Keller and Tommy Stringer". St. Nicholas; An Illustrated Magazine for Young Folks.

Sixty First Annual Report of the Trustees of Perkins Institute and Massachusetts asylum for the Blind to the Corporation. 1892. Pg. 228.:

Credit line/Citation: 
Thomas Stringer Collection, Perkins School for the Blind

The Thomas Stringer Collection includes teacher notes and journals, newspaper clippings and published works, financial and fundraising records, and schoolwork. Schoolwork includes Tommy’s own square handwriting and braille work. Teacher journals are kept by multiple teachers, those known are; Margaret A. Bull, Laura A. Brown, Annie Carbee, and Ruth L. Thomas. Financial and fundraising materials include Tommy’s personal account books, invoices, bank statements, and fundraising papers, many of which were kept by former Perkins director Edward E. Allen. Newspaper clippings and published works are the bulk of this collection, some published works are written by Michael Anagnos, Perkins second Director.


2 boxes, 1 oversized box, 11 journals/record books

Series 1: Schoolwork & Braille

Series 2: Teachers notes/journals

Series 3: Financial & Fundraising records

Series 4(bulk): Newspaper clippings & Published works

Container List: 

Series 1: Schoolwork & Braille

Box 1

Folder 1: Sloyd (handwriting), Tommy Stringer, 1897-1898

Folder 2: Thomas Stringer, Various Braille, 1912-1913

Journals/Record Books

Box 4: Work of Thomas Stringer, Handwriting, 1896-1897

Series 2: Teacher notes/journals

Box 1

Folder 3: Tommy Stringer, teacher journal, 1891

Folder 4: Thomas Stringer, Teacher notes & correspondence, 1891-1913

Journals/Record Books

Box 5: Thomas Stringer, teacher journal kept by Margaret A. [Brill], 1891

Box 6: Thomas Stringer, teacher journal kept by [Laura A. Brown], 1893-1896

Box 7: Thomas Stringer, journal kept by his teacher, 1894-1895

Box 8: Thomas Stringer, teacher journal kept by Ruth L. Thomas, 1904-1905

Box 9: Thomas Stringer, teacher journal kept by Annie Carbee, 1905-1906

Box 10: Thomas Stringer, journal kept by his teacher, 1907-1908

Series 3: Financial & Fundraising records

Box 1

Folder 5: Thomas Stringer, Publications, 1898-1906

Folder 6: Thomas Stringer school bills & Kidder Peabody & Co. receipts, 1907, 1909, 1911, 1913

Folder 7: Thomas Stringer, Daily Calendars, 1910-1913

Folder 8: Thomas Stringer & Fredrick V. Walsh receipts, 1910-1913

Folder 9: Perkins school taxes, insurance, building maintenance papers, 1910-1913

Folder 10: Kidder, Peabody & Co., Sales receipts, stock records, 1910, 1913, 1925

Folder 11: Correspondence, Thomas Stringer to Florence Proctor, 1911. Correspondence, James Ryan to unknown newspaper, 1910.

Folder 12: Perkins school maintenance & building tax papers, 1911

Folder 13: F.J. Kessler & Co, Lease Insurance Papers, Thomas Stringer Sales receipts, 1911, 1912, 1914

Folder 14: Thomas Stringer papers concerning rent fees, 1912

Folder 15: Perkins school building maintenance, taxes, lease papers, 1912-1913

Folder 16: Kidder, Peabody & Co., Thomas Stringer, Allen, Edward, Account papers, 1914, 1921, 1924, 1926

Folder 17: Kidder, Peabody & Co., Sales receipts, stocks, 1914, 1923

Folder 18: Thomas Stringer, Bank Books-1916, 1922

Folder 19: Kidder, Peabody & Co., Bonds, Income invoices, 1916, 1918, 1920

Folder 20: Allen, Edward. Thomas Stringer. Accounts & Income papers, 1917

Folder 21: Kidder, Peabody & Co., Thomas Stringer, sales receipts, bank books, 1919, 1925, 1926

Folder 22: Lee Edgarton, Bank Papers, 1926

Folder 23: Thomas Stringer, envelope

Folder 24: Thomas Stringer, envelope

Folder 25: Thomas Stringer, envelope

Journal/ Record books

Box 11: Thomas Stringer Account book kept by Edward Allen, 1894

Box 12: Thomas Stringer Account book kept by Michael Anagnos, 1899-1918

Box 13: Thomas Stringer Account books, 1907-1916

Box 14: Thomas Stringer Account book kept by Edward Allen, undated

Series 4 (bulk): Newspaper clippings & Published works

Box 2

Folder 26: Thomas “Tommy” Stringer, articles & clippings, 1891-1915 [bulk 1891]

Folder 27: Thomas Stringer & Willie E. Robin, DeafBlind, articles, 1894-1899

Folder 28: The Ten Timer One Record, original and photocopy, 1897

Folder 29: The Every Day Church [sermon on Tommy Stringer], original and photocopy, 1903

Folder 30: “The Case of Tommy Stringer”, original and photocopy, 1907

Box 3 (oversized)

Folder 31: Thomas “Tommy” Stringer, Newspaper articles & clippings, some oversized, copies and originals, 1891-1915

Folder 32: Thomas Stringer, Newspaper & magazine articles, oversized, 1897-1905

Subject Headings: 

Perkins School for the Blind.

Perkins School for the Blind--History.

Anagnos, Michael, 1837-1906

Allen, Edward E. (Edward Ellis), 1861-1950

Deafblind children--Education--United States

Copyright © Perkins School for the Blind