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First Annual Report Of The Massachusetts Commission For The Blind

Creator: n/a
Date: 1908
Publisher: Wright & Potter, Boston
Source: Mount Holyoke College Library

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In its report, which was rendered Jan. 15, 1904, the commission recommended the establishment of a permanent State board, to consist of five persons, with authority: (1) to prepare and maintain a complete register of the adult blind in Massachusetts; (2) to establish a bureau of industrial aid, for the purpose of aiding the blind to find employment and for developing home industries among them; and (3) to establish one or more shop schools, designed to provide suitable instruction and work for the blind.


The Legislature of 1904 received the report, but did not see fit to act upon its recommendations. It did, however, by chapter 87, Resolves of 1904 (see VIII., Appendix A), authorize the appointment of a second commission, to prepare a register of the adult blind, and to investigate and report, on or before Jan. 15, 1905, on the advisability and feasibility of ameliorating the condition of the adult blind by industrial training or establishing of industrial schools, or by any other means. The commissioners of 1903 were constituted the new commission in September, 1904. Finding it impracticable to complete the work assigned them in the time at their disposal, the commission was continued by chapter 1, Resolves of 1905 (see XI., Appendix A), and given permission to make its report in January, 1906. The Legislature also empowered the Bureau of Statistics of Labor, which was charged to make a census of the State in 1905, to aid the commission in the preparation of its register of the blind, by furnishing it with the names and addresses of the blind recorded by the enumerators of the census.


The report of the commission was rendered on Jan. 15, 1906. It included a register of the blind, together with recommendations and a bill. The recommendations were as follows: --


1. The establishment of a permanent board for improving the condition of the blind. We believe that women and blind persons should be eligible for membership on such a board.
2. That the register and catalogues which we have prepared shall be placed in charge of said board, and that they shall be charged to maintain and perfect the same, to the end that the board may be enabled to serve as a bureau of investigation, information and advice.
3. That the Board shall serve as a bureau of industrial aid, to find new forms of employment for the blind, to aid them in finding work, and to develop home industries among the blind.
4. That the board shall be empowered to establish and manage a system of industrial schools and workshops, for the purpose of affording suitable blind persons instruction and work in the lines of industry best adapted to their needs. In accordance with these recommendations, we submit the appended bill.


The bill reported by the commission, with slight changes, was enacted as chapter 385, Acts of 1906, and approved by the Governor on May 11 of that year (see XIII., Appendix A).


Following its organization, in July, 1906, the commission proceeded: (1) to secure as office quarters rooms 609 and 610 in the Ford Building, at 15 Ashburton Place, Boston; and (2) to establish two departments for the conduct of its work. The department of registration and information was placed in charge of Miss Lucy Wright of Boston as superintendent, and the industrial department was placed in charge of Mr. Charles F. F. Campbell of Boston as superintendent. Mr. Charles W. Holmes was chosen deputy superintendent of the industrial department. All of these persons were specially qualified for work among and for the blind. Miss Wright, formerly secretary of the Associated Charities of Taunton, had acted as field agent of the Commission on the Adult Blind in 1904 and 1905, and as special agent of the bureau of Statistics of Labor in 1905; Mr. Campbell had served the Massachusetts Association for promoting the Interests of the Adult Blind as agent in arousing public interest in the adult blind and as director of its experiment station in trade instruction, 1903-06; and Mr. Holmes, a graduate of the Perkins Institution, a blind man, had for some years been a successful teacher at the head of a department in Eastern Township College of Music, Stanstead, Quebec, an institution for seeing persons.


On the expiration of its lease, in August, 1907, the commission, having found its office quarters inadequate, leased room 608 in addition to rooms 609 and 610 in the Ford Building for three years, at an annual rental of $1,200 for the three rooms. This lease, like all leases taken by the commission, e.g., for shops and salesroom, was duly approved by the Governor and Council.


Whether the number of the blind in Massachusetts is on the increase is a somewhat vexed question, owing to the variance between the published results of the federal and State censuses. The Commission on the Adult Blind published the following in its report: --


The Number of Blind in Massachusetts, by Specified Age Groups.


Absolute Numbers.
BY CENSUS OF0-19 Years20-59 Years60 Years or OverUnknownTotals 20 Years or Over80 Years or Over
19053549861,45752,802 (1) 2,443403
Relative Numbers, i.e., Per Cents
1895,13.71 40.97 45.17 0.15 100.00 86.29 10.04
1900, 36.87 21.74 41.17 0.22 100.00 63.13 13.38
1905, 12.83 35.19 52.00 0.18 100.00 87.19 14.38

(1) There is reason to believe that this number is too small by upwards of 450.

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