The First Six Months

Research in the Library’s collections, consultations with project partners, meetings with members of the Vision Council, and a conference presentation have made the first six months of the project fly by. Artist-in-residence Teresa Jaynes examined gems like the Jenny Partridge letters, as well as 1830s personal narratives by Pennsylvania Institution for the Instruction of the Blind students in the first raised-print periodical for the blind “The Students’ Magazine.” Outreach coordinator Katherine Allen coordinated the oral histories of Vision Council members in the midst of a snowstorm and VCP Co-Director Erika Piola weathered the heat of New Orleans to discuss the history of the printing for the blind, the Library, and visual culture in the context of the “Common Touch” exhibition at the annual Popular and American Culture Associations meeting.

Conversations with disability studies scholars and curators, as well as our project partners in the vibrant local arts and culture communities have also happily filled the days of our calendars. We have been fortunate to talk with Georgina Kleege, author of “Sight Unseen” (1999) and whose most recent research focuses on blindness and visual art; Anne Millet-Gallant, author of “The Disabled Body in Contemporary Art” (2012); Katherine Ott, Smithsonian curator of “EveryBody: an Artifact History of Disability in America” (2013); and Heather Tilley, curator of “Touching the Book: Embossed Literature for Blind People in the Nineteenth Century” (2013). Sore phone ears, heads spinning with ideas, and the never ending appreciation of the richness of the Library’s collections permeate these moments discussed. In the coming weeks, further posts will showcase Library Company collections relevant to disability studies; reflections and insights by project staff about their work on Common Touch; and guest posts by Common Touch partners, advisers, and art and disability studies scholars and advocates.

Erika Piola
Associate Curator, Prints and Photographs
Co-Director, VCP at LCP

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