Throwback Thursday: Down to Earth Teaching Tools

Detail of cards for “C” and “D”
I find that I have to be careful not to use the adjective “humble” so often when I write this blog.  It seems every week that I want to start “our object this week is a humble little fill-in-the blank.”  Our museum collections document the inventive minds of teachers and parents and students too.  They are primarily teaching tools, which tend to be very practical, and down-to-earth.  And this week’s object is no exception.  They are Braille Flash Cards from 1947, launched from the creative mind of Paul C. Mitchell, former assistant principal of the New York Institute for Special Education.  Mitchell also developed the geometric wire forms kit that APH sold in the 1950s.  These cards are, ahem, humble but interesting.  There are thirty-five cards featuring the alphabet, punctuation marks, and the symbols that braille uses to indicate capital letters and number signs. Each card has a large symbol on the front, and on the back there is a large simbraille version of the letter, a regular size embossed braille symbol, and the sign in American Sign Language.  They were printed at the Institute’s Gould Printery, which was founded in 1930.

Detail of the braille flash cards box
Paul Mitchell was an interesting guy.  He was an Amherst trained scientist, a Christian missionary, a veteran of both world wars, a camp director at the school’s summer Camp Wapanaki, and the author of at least three books.  But the thing on his resume that really interests me was his work right after World War II. Stationed in Korea, he oversaw the protection of their museums and religious shrines.  He was a “monument man.”  And there is nothing humble about that.


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