When I was eight years old, I found out at my yearly optometrist appointment that I would need to start wearing glasses full-time. I immediately burst into hysterical crying and after my parents calmed me down, I told them that I just knew I was going blind, just like Mary Ingalls did on one of my favorite television shows, “Little House on the Prairie.” (Spoiler: I was not going blind, as instead of suffering from scarlet fever in my youth I suffered from a raging case of melodrama.)
However, the point is, who wasn’t touched by the story of Mary Ingalls going blind?
Mary Ingalls, older sister of famed author Laura Ingalls Wilder, has a birthday this week, January 10. As January is National Braille Literacy Month, the Museum of the American Printing House for the Blind will be hosting a birthday party for Mary Ingalls this Saturday, January 12, from 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Mary Ingalls, who lost her sight at the age of 14, received a college education at a time when it was rare for a woman to attend college and as an adult could read braille, Moon type, New York Point, and raised print and she owned a large library, with many of those books published by the American Printing House for the Blind. Many people do not realize that like her sister, Mary Ingalls was a writer and published several poems and essays.
The Museum has a temporary exhibit on Mary’s early frontier life as well as her life after going blind, with books and learning aides she might have used as a student at the Iowa College for the Blind. The celebration also will include a performance of Pa Ingalls’ fiddle tunes, readings of Mary’s poetry and sing-a-long of songs the Ingalls’ family sang, crafts taken from some of Laura’s books and even a birthday cake made from a 19th century recipe.
Admission to this birthday celebration is free but since space is limited, reservations must be made by January 10. To reserve a spot, call (502) 899-2213 or send an e-mail to [email protected].
For more information, visit http://www.aph.org/museum/.
Photo courtesy of the Museum of the American Printing House for the Blind.