Leah Samples

 Ph.D. Candidate, History and Sociology of Science Department, University of Pennsylvania

2021 to 2022
Dissertation Fellow

 SEE: The State, Science, and Sightlessness in Progressive Era America and Beyond, 1910s-1950s

This project brings together the history of the senses, history of disability, history of technology and medicine to examine the management and construction of blindness in early-to-mid twentieth-century America from the Progressive Era to the end of World War II, focusing on the many imbrications between technical knowledge systems ranging from U.S. Census surveys to industrial eye exams to ultrasonic mobility devices. The Consortium for History of Science, Technology and Medicine Dissertation Fellowship will enable me to conduct research at two member institutions, the Hagley Museum and the Rockefeller Archive Center, where I will work to further uncover how safety engineers, ophthalmologists, and progressive era reformers reinscribed rhetoric about the innate dependency of blind Americans through their expertise. This dissertation will make significant contributions to the scholarship by showing how the mathematical sciences and engineering were central to the construction and management of blindness.