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About the Project

Primary Tasks

    Secondary Tasks

      The goal of the History of Blindness in Iowa project is to capture the history of blindness and blind persons in our state and share it with all Iowans. That history has been collected in numerous personal accounts (written and narrated) and through the collection and cataloging of related historic documents, objects, images, films, and more. This web site serves as a conduit to the collection.

      Persons with disabilities, including those who are blind, have been noticeably absent from the historical narrative of Iowa. The daily experiences and historical achievements of blind Iowans add an important dimension to understanding Iowa's past and the people who shaped it. All Iowans are invited to learn how their fellow citizens contributed to significant changes in the way blind persons are regarded by American society and its institutions. This project highlights the fact that commonly held stereotypes about blindness are a myth and will help educate all Iowans about the capabilities of their friends, family members, and co-workers who are blind.

      In some instances, the historic events and materials included here offer a negative or stereotypical view of blind persons. These representations of blind Iowans from Iowa's past are necessary to acknowledge that such views were widely held and directly impacted the lives of blind Iowans and their families and communities. Many of these views continue to shape attitudes and actions toward blind individuals. The presentation of these personal histories and historic materials will demonstrate both that these negative views existed and that the reality of the lives of blind Iowans often ran counter to those stereotypes.

      Contact Us

      Please direct questions and comments about the project to:
      Emily Wharton
      Iowa Department for the Blind 
      (515) 281-1334

      Thanks To...

      The History of Blindness in Iowa project was partially supported by grants from these organizations:

      • Humanities Iowa and the National Endowment for the Humanities
      • Resource Enhancement and Protection - Historical Resource Development Program (REAP/HRDP): State Historical Society of Iowa
      • Friends of the Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped

      Thank you to those individuals who volunteered time and effort to this project:

      Michael Barber
      Peggy Chong
      Mary Clarke
      Louise Duvall
      Mike Hicklin
      Mike Hoenig
      Jack Lufkin
      Karla Ice
      Jo Ann Slayton

      The views and opinions expressed by this project do not necessarily reflect those of the organizations and individuals listed above.

      Project Staff

      Deborah Brix (Transcription)
      Meredith Ferguson (Project Assistant)
      Dr. Bill Friedricks (Humanities Scholar)
      Keely Goshia (Intern)
      Karen Keninger (Project Manager)
      Maddy McAreavy (Intern)
      Shan Sasser (Project Manager)
      Beverly Tietz (Transcription)
      Allie Walker (Intern)

      Terms of Use.