Thomas Carroll papers

File, Document

Accession Number: 2014.13.1

Scope & Content: In Process. The Thomas Carroll papers include memoranda; correspondence; annual reports, minutes and other administrative documents; research reports; press releases; speeches; typescripts; clippings and other published material (photocopies and some original); photographs; and audio and video recordings. The collection documents the work of Father Thomas Carroll in the field of blindness rehabilitation, primarily in his role as executive director of the Catholic Guild for All The Blind, from his appointment in 1946, until his death in 1971, and the programs that he established there: St. Paul's Rehabilitation Center for the Blind, St. Raphael's Geriatric Center, and the American Center of Research in Blindness and Rehabilitation. Included is extensive correspondence with major figures in the blindness field. Additionally, the collection includes material relating to other concerns of Father Carroll -- ecumenical, and social- and civil-rights related -- and writings of others on various topics. The business files of four individuals who worked under Father Carroll's leadership and played major roles in the Guild's programs/services are also a part of this collection: Robert Amendola, sculptor and an instructor of videation and spatial orientation at St. Paul's Rehabilitation Center; Dr. Thomas Caulfield, staff psychiatrist, who served as rehabilitation director at St. Paul's; Dr. Leo Riley, a physician who served as director of research at the American Center for Research in Blindness and Rehabilitation; and, Father Robert Carolan, who served as director of the Guild's professional services and, later, of St. Paul's rehabilitation services. Some material post-dates Carroll's death, among which are press releases about the renaming of the Guild to the Carroll Center for the Blind, in Father Carroll's honor. There are also 1980s audio interviews with family members and colleagues about their memories of Carroll; and, audio recordings of the Carroll Center for the Blind's Fiftieth Anniversary Symposium (1986).

Creator: Carroll, Father Thomas

Interview Date: / /

Credit Line: Gift of the Carroll Center for the Blind, 2014.13

Administrative History: Thomas J. Carroll, born August 6, 1909, in Gloucester, Massachusetts, was a Catholic priest, dedicated to social justice and civil rights, and a leader in the development of rehabilitation services for civilian blind and visually impaired persons. He entered St. John's Seminary in Boston in 1932, and was ordained in 1938. That same year, he was appointed assistant director of the Catholic Guild for All the Blind, in Newton, Massachusetts, an organization established in 1936 that offered financial aid and a few general services to blind clients through the parish guilds of the Archdiocese of Boston, and which, in 1943, opened a home for Aged Blind Women. Father Carroll was appointed executive director of the Guild in 1946, a position he held until his death in 1971. During his years as administrator, Father Carroll led the Guild in its establishment of two comprehensive and professionally staffed rehabilitation programs: St. Paul's Rehabilitation Center for the Blind, in 1954, the first civilian facility for the newly blinded, which offered a multi-week course to its clients that included training in mobility and daily living skills, lectures about blindness and the history of the rehabilitation movement, psychological testing and group therapy; and, in 1965, St. Raphael's Geriatric Adjustment Center for the elderly blind and visually impaired (which replaced the blind women's home, and, in 1973, merged with St. Paul's). He also founded the American Center for Research in Blindness and Rehabilitation in 1963, which also functioned under the auspices of the Guild. In 1972, the year following his unexpected death, the Guild was renamed the Carroll Center for the Blind in his honor. Father Carroll's understanding and appreciation of the rehabilitation needs of blind and visually impaired persons were shaped, in part, by his assignments as auxiliary chaplain, during World War II, at Old Farms Convalescent Hospital, Avon, Connecticut (the Army's advanced rehabilitation center for blinded servicemen), and at Valley Forge General Hospital in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania (the Army's East Coast Ophthalmological Center). He also served as national chaplain of the Blinded Veterans Association of America from 1946-1971, and as Catholic chaplain at the Perkins School for the Blind, Watertown, Massachusetts. Father Carroll was a prolific writer and eloquent speaker who authored "Blindness: What It Is, What It Does, and How To Live With It." First published in 1961, the book became a seminal work in the field of blindness rehabilitation. Carroll also served on numerous committees, including the President's Committee on Employment of the Handicapped, the National Advisory Neurological Diseases and Blindness Council, and the World Commission of Research in Rehabilitation, and was the recipient of several awards during his lifetime, among them the American Foundation for the Blind's Migel Medal (1957), the National Rehabilitation Association Bell Greve Memorial Award (1960), and the Leslie Dana Gold Medal Award of the St. Louis Ophthalmological Society (1971). In 2002, Father Carroll was inducted into the Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends in the Blindness Field.

Subjects: Blind Blindness Civil rights Orientation and mobility Rehabilitation Religion Sensory aids Services for the blind and visually impaired