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for the Blind

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M. C. Migel Rare Book Collection

Collection Summary

Creator: American Foundation for the Blind
Title: Rare Book Collection
Bulk Dates: 1617-1950
Quantity: 755 volumes
Abstract: Books, pamphlets ..... 1617 to 1950

Scope and Content

The M. C. Migel Memorial Library of the American Foundation for the Blind has an extensive and important collection of material dealing with blindness and the blind. This includes an extraordinary number of rare works that give an historical perspective to the evolution of the public's understanding of the problems of the blind, the treatment and education of the blind and the work of blind persons.

Highlights from the collection include:

The earliest book in the collection. Dating from 1617 it concerns a blind man Louis Grotto, an Ambassador during the era of Hadrian, who was famous for his speeches. The book was published in France. The earliest English publication in the catalog that relates to the blind is by Richard Standfast and was published in 1684.The first "landmark" book in the library is Denis Diderot's Lettre sur Les Aveugles a L'Usage de Ceux qui Voyent which was published in 1749 and which had a tremendous influence in changing the general attitude towards blind persons.The library is fortunate in having two copies of the rare first edition of the book that marked the origin of modern methods in the care and teaching of the blind which is Valentin Hauy's Essai sur L'Education des Aveugles.The rarest book in the collection is Precis sur L'Histoire de France.., Paris, 1837, which is one of only three known copies of the first edition of the first book embossed by the Braille system which used dots rather than just raised letters of the alphabet.While Diderot, Hauy and Braille were the great proponents of modern methods in the care of the blind in France, the library also contains examples of the work of directors, inventors and writers who furthered the education and understanding of the blind in other countries. There are many books in the collection by or about Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe (1801-1876) who is rightly considered the founder of education for the blind in this country.A very important and unusual part of this rare book collection is the large number of rare pamphlets and of scarce clippings extracted from both popular and scientific periodicals. Most of these items date from the nineteenth century and would prove almost impossible to duplicate today.

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