Braille and Talking Books Archive for Wayne County, Michigan

Dublin Core


Braille and Talking Books Archive for Wayne County, Michigan


Digitized versions of original paperwork, photographs, printed matter, and other items documenting the work and workings of the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Impaired (NLS) in Wayne County, Michigan


In 1931, the Pratt- Smoot Act became law, and the Congress of the United States began the Books for the Adult Blind Project, to provide library service to people who are blind or visually challenged. The first available books were in New York point, Moon type, and Braille, all of which are raised (or embossed) signs that can be felt with fingers. In 1933 vinyl records were added to provide Talking Books. As the service developed, children and those with physical challenges to reading were added. The service changed its technology to keep up with needs and make use of available resources. Cassette tapes were adapted to a four track system for national distribution. Now users can receive Braille and audio books by mail or download.

Among the original 19 libraries established for the Books for the Adult Blind project in 1931, were two in Michigan: one in Detroit, and one in Saginaw. This archive contains some of the letters, documents, and other paperwork involved in maintaining that service in Wayne County, Michigan.

The service is provided today, in part, under the name of Braille and Talking Books, which is serviced by staff here at the Taylor Community Library. There are also an advisory service in Detroit, 9 others in various Michigan counties, and the state headquarters, the Braille and Talking Book Library in Lansing. There has been a tradition of library service of this kind in Wayne County, Michigan, including Detroit, for over 90 years.

The information in this Description section is available in more detail on the NLS (National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled) Laws and Regulations web page [], and the Library of Michigan's History of the Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped web page. [,9327,7-381-88857_89599-79831--,00.html]


Staff of the Detroit Public Library; staff of the Wayne County Library, specifically the Library for the Blind in Detroit, Michigan.
Staff of the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Impaired and its antecedents, in Detroit and Wayne County, Michigan, and in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Georgia, and Washington, D.C.


Braille and Talking Books history files, Library History files, Taylor Community Library


Taylor Community Library


ca 1919- present


[no text]


Taylor Community Library & Braille and Talking Books


[no text]






Various: typed pages, photographs, printed brochures, floor layouts


[no text]


Braille and Talking Books (library)

Collection Items

Wayne County Library for the Blind Annual Report
A typed annual report using both sides of one letter size sheet and laminated. Report sums up early library and talking book service for visually challenged persons starting in 1912 in Detroit, Michigan. History described extends through 1932. …

Talking Book Committee Meeting Notes, April 4, 1934
Notes on a meeting of the Talking Book Committee on April 4, 1934, discussing how to distribute machines (which play records, or talking books) distributed by "the Foundation", using the system in the State of Ohio as a possible example. Mentions a…

Talking Book Committee Meeting, April 17, 1934
Notes on the discussion by the Talking Book Committee, covering subjects such as payment for talking book machines, delivery to the main library location, places they might be publicized and placed, and groups that might help publicize.

The Moon System card
Card containing the raised signs of the Moon System which people can read using their fingers. Signs include letters, a few words, numerals in New Style and Old Style, and guide lines. Card was printed and published by the National Institute for the…

Joint Memorandum, April 6, 1934
Joint memorandum discusses the practicalities of ordering talking book machines for use by Wayne County residents. Memorandum's postscript mentioned a copy of the memorandum taken by a Mrs. Jones at " the meeting of the preliminary committee".

Report of the Advisory Committee... June 12, 1934
Meeting notes summarize a discussion and a demonstration by Mr. E R Harris' Readophone, being considered for use as with Talking Books (records) for the blind. Record size and sound reproducing principles were considered

Excerpt from report on various  proposed methods of recording talking books
Discussion of sound recording technology and the experts who contributed time to see what would work best for talking books for the blind

Letter to Mrs Davis from Robert B Irwin
Letter to Mrs Davis of the Wayne County Library for the Blind from Robert B. Irwin, Executive Director of the American Foundation for the Blind, explaining progress in developing a machine to play Talking Books on vinyl records. Letter accompanies…

"A Handicap Allowance for the Blind" by R. B. Irwin
Printed pamphlet explaining the resources offered blind people at the time of printing; the needs of blind or visually challenged people; and the ways that various levels of government do provide and could provide for meeting these needs. Includes a…

Form of Agreement, May 15, 1936
Agreement and conditions for the use of 74 Talking Book machines sent by the Library of Congress to Adam Strohm, Librarian, at the Distributing Library in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan via New York. Conditions include choosing blind adults to use…
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