The Century Chest Collection

A Message from the Blind of 1913

(Transcribed from the original)

Blind of 1913 to the blind of 2013 (Transcribed by Jeanne Meyer and Jane Thomas)

Handwritten letter from Miss R. J Turner to Mrs. George Solberg of Oklahoma City for the Century Chest.

Miss R. J. Turner
1629 Minn Ave.
Chickasha, Oklahoma

A silver and clear bead wire tactile cross
A silver and clear bead wire tactile anchor

A tape-bound print/braille note titled: april 22 1913
april 22 2013
It shows on different pages the following:
Missouri Braille numbers alphabet and punctuation
Introduced in Missouri about 1850
English Braille numbers alphabet and punctuation
American Braille originated by Dr. Smith of Massachusetts
New York Point introduced by Superintendent Waitt of New York School for the Blind

A sample of signs that are used in the messages are:
b but, h have, n not,
t to,  v very, u you
cd could, dn done,
fm from, gd good, md made,
tt that, xn when, xl  will,
xh which, ---- ----, xt what,
ow sign and, th sign ess, er ment
ing sign ing, the sign the, dots 3,4,5,6, tion
x with, for sign for
ing sign ing; the sign the; x with;

h have; n not; t to;
for sign for; tt that; wh which
ow sign and; dots 3,4,5,6 tion;

Missouri Braille Alphabet

Number sign sign for numbers

Messages to the blind of 2013 from the blind of 1913
(These are written using a slate and stylus. The paper size is 61/2" by 10". It is bound by needle and thread. No capital dots, very little punctuation, mostly uncontracted braille)

a message
for the blind

sunday april 13 1913
I have just learned that on tuesday april 22 of this year there is to be buried under the basement of the new lutheran church oklahoma city okla. a chest containing among other things, messages to god's children of a hundred years hence said chest to be opened monday april 22 2013. I shall crave the gracious permission of mrs. George Solberg to send them in, a message to the blind telling a few facts regarding what has been done by the blind and for the blind during the past century, hoping it will not be amiss.
rebecca Jane turner of english parentage.


it seems a somewhat novel proceeding this, to write a message that is to be read long, long years after I have been laid away in the cold, dark ground. to be read to and by men  and women and children yet unborn whose parents, it may be : as yet have no eyes tence save in the knowledge of the great creator of life. but the feeling of novelty dies when I think of the holy, helpful messages written so many centuries ago by hands long since at rest. pages preserved to us in the by that great chest the ark of god the church but lit others write on religion law,  literature ----- art, handcraft while I tell that which they cannot


some facts relating to the blind of the 19th century.
during the past century much has been done with a view to aiding the blind I have not time now to make extensive research but must content myself with giving the few facts near at hand.

in 1834 louis braille, a french man himself without physical sight, gave to the world a system of embossed dots wherewith the blind might communicate with each other; might copy for themselves that which they wished to review and so make the darksome life more bearable.


The original guide with which this writing was done, has been supplanted to a great extent by one much more convenient to carry about.
the french slate consisted of a thin slab of metal finely grooved on one side, on which was laid the paper fastened to one end of this slab, with hinges was a light wooden frame which when lowered held the paper in place, at regular distance along each side of this frame were holes to keep in place the brass slide thru which the embossing was done. the device for making the dots was and is a small punch or awl called a stylus or stiletto. When necessity demands a hairpin or wire can be used.

the brass slide contained two rows of rectangular shaped holes called cells. a cell for each letter and when the word was complete, a cell was skipped, there were twenty six cells in each row; and when the two rows were done with  the slide was moved to the next pair of holes in the frame; the name Braille is a mono-syllable and pronounced with the lone sound of a
In each cell can be made 6 dots 2 across and 3 down. the writing was done from right to left. and each letter made  backwards. It is thus I am writing today; but on the smaller guide which is now called a tablet.
the french system.

In this system the first ten letters of the alphabet are made, exclusive of the 2 lower dots; the next ten letters are duplicates of the first ten with a dot added below in writing the added dot goes in the lower right hand corner. for the remaining letters of the alphabet begin once more with a and add two dots below. for the ten digits, place the letter reversed before the first ten letters of the alphabet, and for the punctuation drop these ten letters to the lower part of the cell.
english braille.
There are but 25 letters in the french alphabet; and when this system was adopted by other european countries, the missing w

was supplied by a reversed r
old or missouri braille.
but when this french system was brought to mo. About the year 1850, the perfectness of the system was retained by making the last three letters of the French stand for w, y, z  of this country; and forming the 26 letter by adding the requisite lower dots to the sixth letter
none of the systems had capitals. These 26 cells covered a space of seven inches; therefore the adopting of numerous contractions and standard abbreviations to save space. frequently letters were and are omitted; the content determining the meaning of a group of letters. –hrd-- stands for hard, heard, hoard - according to the content.

new york point.
later, superintendent waitt of the school for the blind, new york city (probably with view to save space) invented what is known as new york point the slate was made of wood with holes down each side for the metal slide this slide consists of two metal strips between which the paper goes, the cells being in the upper strip. these cells will hold but four dots each, in the form of a  square and when a letter cannot be made within this space another is added. the letters require from 1 to 3 dots across but are never more than 2 dots each.
during the last few years the original (very ungainly) punctuation has been greatly improved and now some of

the contractions are undergoing change while an attempt is being made to introduce a satisfactory capital sign. The sign for numbers is; six dots 3 across and 2 down requiring and cell and a half, the letters used for the figures or digits never call for more than 2 dots either way.
American Braille.
still later, dr. smith of mass. introduced a system called: american braille. the alphabet is a parody on the original system. the letters d, f, g, h, i, l, m, q, u, v, being the same as in the old Braille while the c is the same as that of the english. in all brailles the sign for numbers and the ten digits are exactly the same.

and in all systems including the new york point the letter d is the same. with the a. braille came a sign with which to capitalize a letter and a few good contractions which were off set however by the barbarous arrangement of dots for the letters and other contractions.

the improved guides
the improved guides used in writing these various systems consist in each case of two strips of metal, (in one of which are the cells)  hinged together at one end and the paper goes between. at each of the four corners of the lower plate is a tiny sharp peg like a tack these hold the paper in position and when the several lines are complete,  by raising the paper from the two nearest or low

er pegs and placing over the upper pegs gives an unmarred regularity to the lines. these tablets are now being made of a much lighter weight material which insures less than perfect results in writing. the lower plate is indented and grooved.

The lead pencil guide
This guide is made of paste board . originally these were grouped on both sides: but now only one side is grooved the smallest sized grooves being used; the device for writing with pen and ink the fountain pen preferred, is made of wire to keep the pen from ---- to far from the rightful path.

there are also cardboard devices used for teaching script in learning this, the letters are traced with a pencil on the indented side from left to right just as it is read by the seeing. the typewriter
I have never met with a new york point typewriter but on the braille the dots are thrown up instead of down and an entire letter no match with that number of dots is made with a single stroke. these letters are written from left to right and are not made backwards. In general appearance, this writer is similar to the ink writer but has few keys. there are six keys, one for each dot of the cell: and a key which governs the hammer.  In making a letter as many fingers are

are used as there are dots in that letter. and when these keys are held down the hammer key, is struck with the thumb. This work is rapid when proficiency has been attained. In the stereotyper a foot pressure is used for the hammer key:
to insure good impressions on the sheets of metal from which the printing is done. There are several systems of shorthand now in use.
Maps, etc.
the school-room maps are large and stand on easels. a country is easily recognized by one who had studied it with the physical sight. the mountains are raised according to their size and altitude: while rivers, etc are easily traced with the fingers.

there are paper maps also for home study and reference. there is a slate, too, for solving mathematical problems: but this i have never handled and so fear  to describe it.

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the type question.
one of the troublesome questions confronting the blind of to-day is –the type question-- because of several types, or punctigraph systems instead of only one, the blind have much to combat. each publication entails much extra expense; or compels the loss of many desirable readers. for embossed books are exorbitantly high in price.  only one knows what type is used by a prospective correspondent, one must write the first letter

in two or three types. so keenly is this difficulty felt by the blind of today, that hundreds, if not thousands of dollars are being spent in an effort to solve the problem.
moon type
it seems about an equally dived question whether this type derives its name from its originator dr. moon or the likeness of some of letters to a miniature moon it is a very rare type form of lines. a few of the letters the counterpart of the ink type capital. the first line is read from left to right: then the finger follows a short curved line and the second line of the reading is done from right to left; and so on thru the page the lines are read alternately.
there are at least three dozen schools for the blind in these  besides a number of industrial schools and workshops where only handcraft is made a specialty. also there are several homes for the blind where the aged are cared for: and the timid somewhat shielded from the roughness (of the) outside world no general rule governs these homes and these workshops; each is controlled by its own board of directors or its own superintendent regardless of all others save in that which will advance the cause of its own blind adherents. the school is supported entirely or partially by the state in which it is located according to circumstances.

each school is entitled at public expense to two dollars worth of books each year for each blind person connected with the institution; the same to be provided by the American printing house for the blind Louisville, Kentucky.

 the american printing house for the blind was started in 1858. in 1875 kentucky granted it a subsidy of $75,000 and in 1872 us congress appropriated $252,000 the interest from which $10,000 per year is used for its maintenance.
There are a number of libraries for the blind in this country as well as elsewhere

many of these are in connection with libraries for the seeing (only three so far as I know are exclusively for blind). Some of these have rooms wherein the blind may rest and read: may be entertained with music or with reading aloud: or may receive special instruction. through an act of congress some years ago, all of these libraries are permitted to loan their embossed books to the blind throughout the country; free transportation by mail being guaranteed if the printed slip accompanying the book be pasted on the outside of the package when the book is returned to the library whence it is borrowed. of the fifty libraries whose

addresses are near to hand, mass. has 7; new york 6; calif. 4 mich and ohio each 3 and 2 each for conn.  ill.  mo.  n.j.  pa. utah,  and wis. while there is one each in district of columbia,  ga. Ind. kas. la. md. minn. okla. tenn. tex. va. washington and r.i.

one of the important organizations today is the biennial institute of instructors of the blind (b.i.i.b.) which name states its work and qualifications for membership. it is a national association: as is also the american association of workers for the welfare of the blind this association meets every two years, alternately with the b.i.i.b. the latter meets this year, june 24 at jacksonville, ill.

there are several state associations and occasionally we hear of blind men's clubs and city organizations.

the one in which i am most interested is national; the church association of the blind. Its object is; to induce blind churchmen to become active and useful members of the parish the diocese, the church: and to advance the spiritual life of all blind persons by means of the church. It is now in its 16 year and beginning to show signs of fruit. there are other religious organizations no doubt, but as yet i am only in close touch with this one:

so far as I know the only ink print periodicals published in the interests of the blind are the mensor: the outlook for the blind; voices from darkness: and talks and tales. The new English poultry journal i regret that I am not better acquainted with these several publications that i might better write you concerning them.

probably the first embossed periodical published in this country was the kneass magazine for the blind; it was an interesting monthly in line the line type in shake is like the ordinary ink letters enlarged and embossed the present day periodicals in raised letters are;

are the milwaukie weekly review milwaukie, wis. Is published in nyp and deals mainly if not exclusively with current events. The transcripts;, is roman episcopal monthly, in nyp: and probably now in a. braille. It is both interesting and instructive. the christian record; supposedly, a nonsectarian magazine published both in nyp and a. braille. for a time its office was in battle creek, mich. but is now in college view, neb. these are printed by machinery as are also the English and scottish magazines which are so enjoyed in this country by the readers of english braille.

of the witness and the messenger i know only the names: but have been told that both are good. The flora monthly was printed by hand: by harry forrester, halifax, nova scotia; and sent to shut-ins. I think the –leaflet-- of the free gospel library for the blind is printed in parts by several then bound together and loaned to all blind. it is the work of the holiness sect. it measures about 12 by 8 inches, and is about 4 inches thick. church items has a larger surface; is on thinner paper and can be sent rolled. it is of the american church, and keeps its readers in

touch with the church in general and sometimes notes what is being done by various religious bodies. miss sally b. herreshoff bristol, r.i. makes several copies on her typewriter and sends them to others who in turn copies, or forwards to the next in rote. It is now five years old and is looking forward to being printed by machinery in the near future, a well developed religious publication under a new and stronger name. best of all; the matilda ziegler magazine for the blind. an up-to-date monthly, published at number 250 west 54 street new york city by walter g. holmes: and financed by mrs. matilda ziegler.

for whom the magazine was named it is printed in 2 types: nyp and a. braille. In contains a table of contents; publisher's chat; short or business notes; short and continued stories; poetry; directions for making fancy work; games; puzzles; maps, and other outlined figures with written explanation; sometimes a question box with the questions answered, or rules of etiquette, lessons in physical culture; travels; bits of humor; articles from the leading ink print periodicals of the day: many of which are by noted writers; and many pages of current events.  under the heading, "experiences and suggestions for success", is

given each month articles, or letters setting forth various kinds of work engaged in by the blind. and sometimes later letters telling of successful experiences made along these same lines, by hitherto timid leaders.
for some time this magazine cost its readers ten cents per year: in order that it might have the benefit of subscriber's rates in the mail. but last year, 1912 u.s. congress enacted a law providing that embossed periodicals not containing advertisements, might be sent thru the u.s. post office from the publishing house to the reader, free of postage. This probably was in compliance to mrs. ziegler the great benefactor of the blind.

the blind no longer confine themselves to piano tuning; music teaching, chair caning, crocheting, bead work and broom making, but have launched out into poultry raising, dairying, salesmanship, news-stand business, pigeon raising, housekeeping, room renting, sewing of all kinds, basket making, upholstering, rug weaving, mattress making, hammock tying,  quilt making, factory working and various other things. ostopathy and phrenology promise to become excellent fields for the blind.

several large stores have opened departments for work done by the blind. some charge a  percentage of the price received while others do not; the only 3

i can recall are in new york city and Washington d.c. and Chicago ill. the blind who can sigh their work to these several stores to be sold, are frequently urged by the ziegler magazine to be careful of the tagging that not difficulty need arise as to the identity of the consigner. During the recent terrible floods no mention was made of any school for the blind suffering disaster, tho at least three were in the flood swept district; Pittsburg, pa. Indianapolis, ind., and columbus, ohio. Neither does there seem to have been any mention made of the three blind girls employed at the national

cash register works, dayton, ohio, tho the great building played an important part as an immediate refuge for the sufferers.

oklahoma was admitted to statehood nov. 16, 1907. according to the decennial census, 1910, this state has; blind 939 deaf, 839 and deaf-blind, nine. The public library at oklahoma city, okla. contains about 50 volumes for the blind five types being represented; n.y.point, american braille, english braille, moon type, line letter. The school for the blind is located at present, in the little tho historical town, fort Gibson. and tho young as

as a state school, it enrolls this year, fifty seven pupils.

the enterprising blind thuout the country are taking advantage of the opportunities afforded by the state fairs to show their handiwork. at the oklahoma state fair (at oklahoma city) last year, were exhibited in the department of "work done by the blind", more than a dozen kinds of work. among them paper flowers, raffia, bead-work, netting, knitting, crocheting, now the machine sewing upholstery, laundry work, baskets and ink typewriting. this typewriting was done by blind stenographers at the industrial school for the blind,

hartford, conn. before this specimen of typewriting was taken to the fair it was critically examined by the rev. charles frederic carson, 401 east avenue e, okla. city, okla. and pronounced "absolutely" flawless the rev. mr. Carson is a post graduate of the minnesota state university, minneapolis: as well as of seabury divinity school, fairvault, minn. And is not only capable, but approves of giving correct judgement.

housing the homeless blind
a very important question the housing of the homeless blind. different states have different ways of providing for their otherwise uncared for blind

illinois pensions her poor blind who are not in the home for the blind $150 per year. within the last few years, has doubled her pensions for the blind in china, blind girls are sold for immoral purposes. In egypt the blind are looked upon as sacred charges. in japan, for many years the blind were pensioned but now they are encouraged to earn a livelihood. in marietta, ohio, a gentleman of means has opened his home to blind ladies who are unable to earn an entirely independent living. as a rule, possibly in all cases, the homes for the blind, in this country, are neither

established nor maintained by the state. Instead, each home is controlled by its own board of directors; and maintained by private gifts, sales, entertainers, work done by the blind, etc. etc. the home for the blind in oklahoma is to be an endowed institution of advanced thought: and as soon as a satisfactory board of directors has been secured, the work will go on.

according to the census bureau, washington d.c. oklahoma has nine deaf blind. as yet no provision has been made for their care, nor for their education. later buried chests may furnish you with better news.

thus I could write on and on and on of those things in which we of the darksome way are interested. I could tell much about the noble man and women with sight who are so graciously endeavoring to uplift the less fortunate to assist the more venturesome: and to aid the more aggressive. I could write of great men, women without physical sight who are so relentlessly tearing down the walls of prodigious, ignorance, and selfishness that bar the way of the blind. I could tell too of the gulf stream life of several, that quietly melts away great icebergs of indifference.

blind men
thomas p. gore, Lawton, ok. was the first blind man ever elected to the us congress. chas. f. f. campbell, edits the outlook for the blind: now published in columbus, ohio. h. h. johnson, romney, west va. and arthur jewell, jacksonville, ill. both of whom have died recently, will be sorely missed. w. h. patrick represented the blind men's club of n.y. a year or two ago at exeter, england. fred f bolotin chicago, ill., salesman: his younger sister a stenographer, and brother a practitioner of osteopathy. earnest p. junvier presbyterian missionary in foreign fldg. j. j. dunivan, brooklyn ny phrenologist

blind women
margaret and ann davids, racine, wis. twins jennie schofield, r. r.  3 fresno, calif. barbara b. sperry, batavia, ill. gulf stream lives ada youcan chicago, ill. adelia hozt desmoines, iowa; nina rhoades, n.y. –all three writers anna johnson chicago ill. Graduated with high honors from the northwestern university; german french english, latin and greek being her studies. while dora a shott, lebanon, pa. like many others of our sightless friends is living a retired life in the country alms house it is where i should be: nor would i need be idle god is there too.

at various times there have been educated in this country 84 deaf-blind. there are at present in these u.s.a. 583 deaf-blind of this number I can only locate 3; miss maria a chapman los angeles, california, who supports herseif by renting out rooms which she cares for herself; samuel koffman, mount Vernon, n.y. who took first prize at the oklahoma state fair last year, for basket work: and miss helen keller, wrentham, mass. who tho never having heard, has been taught to talk. i have a deaf-blind correspondent, miss Margaret d. scott, askin st. london, ontario,

with so much accomplishment by the blind, and for the blind in less than four score years, what may not the possibilities be during the coming century; in the mental, financial and spiritual improvement of the blind. then bear in mind, you to whom this message is written, that whatever the results of your efforts strive to make your life, darksome tho it may be, worthwhile. you may fail, as I have failed, as many are failing even daily but let this not discourage you; look even unto him who is the author and finisher of all good things and do your best!
rebecca jane turner, unmarried and for many years blind; born in paris, mo. october 16, 1858

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