International Sunshine Society Papers

File, Document

Accession Number: 2021.1.1

Scope & Content: -ISS Board Minutes, 1914-84 in 13 Folders -ISS Annual Convention Minutes, 1920-38 in five folders -ISS Annual Convention Programs, 1929, 1930, 1938, 1980, 1981, 1984 -Bensonhurst Sanitarium Company Board Minutes, 1907-1921 in five folders -Arthur Home Board Minutes, 1924 -ISS Department of the Blind Board Minutes, 1918-27 in six folders -Booklet, Memphis Sunshine Society, ca. 1903 -The Mother's Peace Song -Four (4) ISS History Scrapbooks, numbered II, III, IV and V

Creator: International Sunshine Society

Interview Date: / /

Collection: International Sunshine Society

Credit Line: Gift of Jamie Baker, 2021.1

Administrative History: Components created by various constitutional officers of the I.S.S. as well as their historian. Cynthia May Westover Alden (1862-1931), who grew up in Colorado and wrote for the New York Recorder and New York Tribune, began with fellow journalists about 1896 to send Christmas cards to shut-ins. The group organized itself as the Sunshine Society to expand on the practice. Incorporated in 1900 as the International Sunshine Society, the charity sought "to bring the sunshine of happiness to the greatest possible number of hearts and homes." The Society's Department of the Blind was created in 1904 and separately incorporated in 1905, with poet, composer, and humanitarian Mary C. Seward (1839-1919) as president. The Department ran several homes for "blind babies", such as the Dyker Heights Home for Blind Babies (opened 1906) at 1255 84th Street, Brooklyn, and the Arthur Home for Blind Babies (opened 1909) at Pine Grove Avenue, Summit, New Jersey. The homes served as combined nurseries, hospitals, and schools. In 1907 the Dyker Heights Home, under the aegis of the New York City Board of Education, hosted the first publicly-run kindergarten for blind children in the United States. By the time of Alden's death the International Sunshine Society had 500 local branches in 38 states as well as branches in eight foreign nations. The organization lasted at least into the mid 1980s, although by that time it had abandoned any focus on blindness.

Subjects: Blind children Charitable organizations Education of disabled persons