Laura Dewey Bridgman was born on December 21, 1829, in Etna, New Hampshire. She was normal at birth, but contracted scarlet fever at the age of two which destroyed her hearing and sight. A newspaper account about Laura in the spring of 1837 attracted the attention of Dr. Samuel Howe, director of the Perkins Institute for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts. Eager to attempt to teach a deaf-blind pupil, he brought her to the Institute in October 1837.
The process was slow and tedious, but Laura eventually learned to read and to write using specially grooved paper. Dr. Howe's report of his successful experiment aroused worldwide interest and Laura became a wonder of her day. The British author, Charles Dickens, even devoted a chapter of his book, American Notes (1842) to a discussion of Laura's case. Her formal education ceased when she was twenty, but Laura continued to live at the Perkins Institute for the rest of her life. She spent most of her time knitting, sewing, cleaning, and writing letters to friends. Laura Bridgman died on May 24, 1889.
Included in this collection are six letters, typed transcripts of the letters, and a piece of lace knitted by Laura Bridgman presented to Abbie Forest.
Finding Aid: Laura Dewey Bridgman Collection, 1879-1883 (MS2)