While Bridgman’s education at Perkins ended in 1850, she resided at the school for the rest of her life. Perkins Archives currently has 24 linear feet of textual material, photographs, artwork, and artifacts that help illuminate the extraordinary life and education of Laura Bridgman. While there have been efforts to organize the Laura Bridgman Collection over the years, it has now been fully processed thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Division of Preservation and Access.
Tasked with processing this collection, I was initially overwhelmed by the large amount and variety of materials, the square hand technique of writing used by Bridgman, and her tendency to use multiple abbreviations and nicknames for a single correspondent. Soon, however, I was engrossed in the unique narrative of this collection, which made the complexity all the more rewarding. This collection contains details of the everyday, such as a trip to the dentist and learning to tell time, but from the unique perspective of a woman in the 19th century who is deafblind. There is an account of Bridgman going to town with "Miss W" for a pair of blue glass [glasses] on May 9, 1875, and there are glasses in the collection that she owned. Being able to read about items she owned or made and then having artifactual examples of such items brings the collection to life.
For additional information about Laura Bridgman please visit http://www.perkins.org/about/history/laura-bridgman
For an additional blog post related to the processing of this collection please visit http://www.perkinsarchives.org/archives-blog/the-blind-bard-of-kentucky-and-laura-bridgman
Jen Hale, Assistant Archivist, Perkins School for the Blind