Annual Reports of Perkins Institution and Massachusetts Asylum of the Blind

Date: 1841

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Common articles, such as a knife, a spoon, a book, etc., were first taken, and labeled with their names in raised letters. She was made to feel carefully of the article with the name pasted upon it. Then the name was given her on another piece of paper, and she quickly learned to associate it with the thing. Then the name of the thing being given on a separate label, she was required to select the thing from the number of other articles, or to find the article; For instance, when the word "key" was given her on a bit of paper in raised letters, she would at once feel for a key on the table, and not finding it, would rise and grope her way to the door, and place the paper upon the key with an expression of peculiar gratification. . . .

It was evident, however, that the only intellectual exercise was that of imitation and memory. She recollected that the label "book" was placed upon a book, and she repeated the process . . . but apparently without the intellectual perception of any relation between the things.

After a while, instead of labels the individual letters were given her on detached bits of paper. They were arranged side by side, so as to spell, book, key, etc. Then they were mixed up in a heap, and a sign was made for her to arrange them herself so as to express the words "book," "key," etc., and she did so. Hitherto, the process had been mechanical, and the success about as great as teaching a very knowing dog a variety of tricks. . . . But now the truth began to flash upon her, her intellect began to work, she perceived that here was a way by which she could herself make up a sign of anything that was in her own mind, and show it to another mind, and at once her countenance lighted up with a human expression.1

Dr. Howe said that when he had taught Laura to paste the labels on the objects he could do no more. It was as if you had lowered a rope to a man at the bottom of a dark well and could only wait to see whether he would grasp it.

1Howe, S.G.n/an/an/an/a, , 1838: 10–11, and 1841: 25–26.

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Chicago: Annual Reports of Perkins Institution and Massachusetts Asylum of the Blind in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. Thomas, William I. (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937), Original Sources, accessed December 2, 2022, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4V7K3ASI5IZX6NS.

MLA: . Annual Reports of Perkins Institution and Massachusetts Asylum of the Blind, in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, edited by Thomas, William I., New York, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937, Original Sources. 2 Dec. 2022. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4V7K3ASI5IZX6NS.

Harvard: , Annual Reports of Perkins Institution and Massachusetts Asylum of the Blind. cited in 1937, Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. , McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., New York. Original Sources, retrieved 2 December 2022, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4V7K3ASI5IZX6NS.