Virtual Museum

Short 3-12 minute audio recordings created for on-site exhibits in the Perkins Museum located in the Howe Building in Watertown, Massachusetts. The Perkins History Museum is open to the public. Scheduling a tour is required. The Museum and tours are currently closed due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19). 

The Founding of the Perkins School

Museum case with photographs of Samuel Gridley Howe, Prof. Trincheri, Sophia Carter, students, and Joseph Smith, in addition to a maps, a pocket watch, and several writing frames.

Early events in the creation of the Perkins School beginning with John Dix Fisher and Samuel Gridley Howe.

Howe Press and the Perkins Brailler

Museum case with photographs of various printing presses, a printing plate, two braille writers, a record, and braille slates and stylus.

History of the establishment of the Howe Press and products produced including the Perkins Brailler.

The Deafblind Program

Museum case with photographs showing various methods of deafblind communication including the Tadoma Method and the manual alphabet.

Description of the deafblind program beginning with Samuel Gridley Howe and Laura Bridgman. Descriptions of techniques including the manual alphabet and the Tadoma method.

Braille Writers

Museum case with a dozen different braille writers, typewriters, and other devices for embossing type including a modern Perkins Brailler.

Evolution of Braille writers from the slate and stylus to today.

Music Program

Museum case containing wooden tactile board games including chess and checkers, and a music case with movable notes and other music symbols. Several photographs of musical ensembles and people playing games.

History and description of music curriculum and instruction and the history of tactile music notation.

Famous People

Museum case with photographs of Charles Dickens, Sir Francis Joseph Campbell, Helen Keller, Anne Sullivan, and Alexander Graham Bell. Contains a metal and plaster bust of Helen Keller.

Biographical information about some of the famous people associated with Perkins including: Helen Keller, Anne Sullivan, Henry David Thoreau, Julia Ward Howe, Sir Francis Joseph Campbell, and more.

Kindergarten for the Blind

Museum case with photographs of kindergarten students, the kindergarten campus in Jamaica Plain, Director Michael Anagnos, Dennis Reardon, and several wooden objects.

Discussion about the need for, rational, and events leading to the establishment of a Kindergarten for the blind in 1882.

Campus Place Names

Museum case with photographs of Perkins' campuses on Pearl Street, South Boston, and Jamaica Plain, with a portrait of Thomas Handasyd Perkins.

Explanation of the individuals that buildings, cottages, and rooms are named for and their contribution to Perkins.

Campus Locations

Museum case with photographs of Perkins' Watertown campus with several images of the Howe Tower, a relief map of the campus, and a model of one of the change-ringing bells in the tower.

Charts the growth and movement of the various Perkins locations and names. From 140 Pleasant St., Pearl St. (Post Office Square), South Boston (Dorchester Heights), Jamaica Plain (Kindergarten), and Watertown, Massachusetts (present day).

Archives Program

Museum case with a computer display showing Perkins student educational programing and activities, a panoramic photograph of a conference at Perkins Watertown campus, and display panels describing the Archives Program.

Introduction to the archives field, the Perkins collection and ongoing preservation, digitization and description initiatives at Perkins.

Perkins' First Family

Museum case with photographs of Samuel Gridley Howe and Julia Ward Howe, a bust of Samuel Gridley Howe, and pistol Howe brought back from fighting in the Greek Revolution, a relief plaque of Julia Ward Howe, and other family possessions.

The story of Julia Ward Howe and the founding Director of Perkins, Samuel Gridley Howe.

Bridgman, Sullivan, Keller: Excerpts

Photographs of Laura Bridgman, Helen Keller, and Anne Sullivan, a bust of Laura Bridgman, a collection of textiles and artifacts made by or belonging to Laura Bridgman, and a relief plaque of Helen Keller made by Winifred Holt Mather.

Speech written for the dedication of the Bridgman cottage by Laura A. Stover. Valedictory address by Anne M. Sullivan, 1886. Essay written by Helen Keller when she was 12 years old about her first visit to Perkins.

A Sense of Place

Tactile map of Perkins' Watertown Campus.

Introduction to the feel and layout of Perkins' Watertown, MA campus.

Books for the Blind

Museum case featuring example of embossed printing methods for the blind including a metal plate with Boston Line Type, and a portrait of Louis Braille.

History of reading, writing, and printing systems for the blind.


Museum case with several tactile maps, a bound tactile atlas, a map made from a fabric pinboard, and several photographs of geography instruction.

Explanation of method and production of tactile maps and atlases, including a description of a Works Progress Administration project at Perkins to create the most complete embossed atlas in the world during the Great Depression in 1936-1938.

Beyond the Campus

Museum case with photographs of students and adults from various programs and different countries with two artifacts that were gifts from international schools for the blind.

Introduction to work for the blind carried out off campus including literacy, printing embossed books, home teaching, and efforts to help establish schools for the blind in other states and internationally.

Reading and Writing

Museum case featuring various reading and writing apparatus including writing frames with photographs of reading and writing instruction.

Early reading and writing systems for the blind.


Museum case with objects and photographs related to math curriculum including an abacus, ciphering slate, and three geometric forms made of wood.

Arithmetic has always been part of the core curriculum at Perkins. This segment discusses tactile teaching tools including the arithmetic board, and the work of Nicholas Saunderson- a blind mathematician.