APH Press Release

Museum Hosts Birthday Party in Honor of Mary Ingalls

Louisville, KY (December 27, 2012) – To celebrate National Braille Literacy Month, the Museum of the American Printing House for the Blind (APH), located at 1839 Frankfort Avenue, will host a birthday party for Mary Ingalls, the older sister of children’s book author Laura Ingalls Wilder. The event will take place Saturday, January 12, from 10:30am to 12:30pm. Admission is free, but space is limited, so reservations must be made by January 10 by calling (502) 899-2213 or sending an email to kcarpenter@aph.org.

Mary lost her sight at the age of fourteen and Laura became her sister’s eyes, describing the world around her so her sister could “see” as well. The experience sharpened the skills Laura would later use when she wrote the fictionalized accounts of her childhood experiences on the western frontier that brought her lasting fame. The story they tell is as much Mary’s as it is Laura’s, although Mary died before the first of her sister’s books, Little House in the Big Woods, was published.

A temporary exhibit in the museum will chronicle not only Mary’s early life on the frontier—the story told in her sister’s books–but also her life after she was blind. Mary was college-educated—in a time when it was rare for a woman to go to college, much less a blind woman. Books and learning aides she might have used as a student at the Iowa College for the Blind will be on display. As an adult, Mary could read braille, Moon type, New York Point, and raised print, and she owned a sizeable library—in fact, many of her books were published by the American Printing House for the Blind. Like her sister, she was a writer, and published several poems and essays.

The formal celebration includes an audio program narrated by APH’s Mitzi Friedlander, a performance of Pa Ingalls’ fiddle tunes by Barbara Henning, and readings of Mary’s poetry. There will also be a sing-along of the songs the Ingalls family sang, crafts taken from the pages of Laura’s books, and birthday cake made from a nineteenth century recipe.

About the Museum of the American Printing House for the Blind

The Museum, where visitors experience hands-on history, is open Monday through Saturday. It is located on the second floor of the American Printing House for the Blind, 1839 Frankfort Avenue, Louisville, Kentucky. Admission is free. Regular hours are 8:30am to 4:30pm, Monday-Friday and 10:00am to 3:00pm on Saturday. Visitors can write in braille, see the first book embossed for blind readers, see a piano used by Stevie Wonder when he was a student at Michigan School for the Blind, play a computer game designed for blind students, and much more. More information at www.aph.org/museum or call (502) 895-2405, ext. 365, weekdays.

About the American Printing House for the Blind

The American Printing House for the Blind, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is the world’s largest company devoted solely to researching, developing, and manufacturing products for people who are blind or visually impaired. Founded in 1858, it is the oldest organization of its kind in the United States. Under the 1879 federal Act to Promote the Education of the Blind, APH is the official supplier of educational materials for visually impaired students in the U.S. who are working at less than college level.

APH manufactures textbooks and magazines in braille, large print, recorded, and digital formats. APH also manufactures hundreds of educational, recreational, and daily living products. APH’s fully-accessible website (www.aph.org) features information about APH products and services, online ordering of products, and free information on a wide variety of blindness-related topics. One popular feature of the site is the Louis Database, a free tool to help locate accessible books available from organizations across the U.S. APH products can be ordered through Louis.

The American Printing House for the Blind, Inc. is located at 1839 Frankfort Avenue in Louisville, Kentucky. For more information, call (502) 895-2405 or log on to www.aph.org.

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