Throwback Thursday: Scrapbooks From the American Red Cross

Four women in Red Cross uniforms
 work in a braille book bindery
Our Throwback this week comes from a wonderful set of five scrapbooks assembled by Dorothy Fuller in Berkeley, California between about 1936 and 1989.  Fuller was an American Red Cross volunteer who worked in a shop that translated and bound braille books.  The black and white photograph from 1948 shows four women in neat uniform dresses, each with a Red Cross emblem and pin on their right pocket.  Dorothy Fuller is on the far left, stitching the spine of a book together.  To her right, Julia Philbrick uses a machine to manually punch holes in paper.  Further right and in the background, Daphne Isenhour uses a glue pot and brush to assemble book covers.  And in the far right foreground, Calla Baker brushes the braille pages with shellac to reinforce and stiffen them.  An accompanying news story brags that the shop is the largest braille bindery in the west.  The Braille Division of the Berkeley Chapter of the American Red Cross began in 1928, with Daisy Beck as chairman. Volunteers in the Division provided braille transcription services, primarily producing braille materials for local schools, and offered braille transcription classes. In 1936, the Division added their braille bindery service. Books were bound by hand, using the "Berkeley Method," until the process was mechanized in 1976.  Volunteer braille translation has always been an important part of the American braille scene.

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