Skip to Content

AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

75 Years of AFB and Talking Books

Listen to audio welcome from Carl Augusto, AFB President & CEO or read the transcript.

In 1932, the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) received a grant of $10,000 from the Carnegie Foundation to research methods of recording the spoken word as a means of delivering printed material to those with vision loss. The result of these efforts was the Talking Book project. Talking Books radically altered the lives of many blind individuals for whom literature and written information were previously inaccessible. The project gave birth to a tradition of narration by actors and celebrities whose much-loved voices create wonderful and enduring recordings. Seventy-five years later, the Carnegie Foundation has again provided AFB with funds, this time to preserve its Talking Book Archives.

This web site, which was made possible by funds from the New York Times Company Foundation, is divided into the following sections:

AFB Talking Book Exhibit
This section provides a wide variety of rich material on the history of Talking Books, including scans of letters, audio clips, advertisements, and photographs.

AFB Talking Book Archives
This fully accessible electronic guide to the collection is geared towards scholars and those requiring access to primary source documents from the Talking Book Archives.

Key Dates
This list chronicles main events in the development of Talking Books.

Fast Facts
Read surprising and little-known facts about Talking Books.

Related Links

"The Talking Book"
Read more about the history of Talking Books in this chapter from The Unseen Minority: A Social History of Blindness in the United States.

"The Beloved Voices"
Read more about Talking Book narrators and the development of Talking Books in this chapter from The Unseen Minority: A Social History of Blindness in the United States.

"Reading into the Future" - AccessWorld
Get an overview of the National Library Service's Digital Talking Book Test Program in this November 2007 article.

How to Get Talking Books
Get contact information on how to receive Talking Books from the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.

services icon Directory of Services

Join Our Mission

Help us expand our resources for people with vision loss.