The Blind History Lady Introduces to you blind people and their varied, unexpected lives.

For more than three decades, I have been gathering information, stories, lists, news articles, books and more. For the past ten years, I have been analyzing what I have found and then re-researching the subject. The facts and stories are enlightening, surprising and inspiring for everyone. Such a rich history we, in the United States have been left by blind people whose stories have rarely been told. Their lives have changed the lives of each American and we did not even know it.

Through in-person and video presentations, I tell the stories of so many blind men and women who defied the stereotype of a poor blind person, living off of public assistance. Relying on themselves, blind men and women found a place to contribute in their home communities and thrived. Contact the Blind History Lady at to arrange for your presentation.

My books on-line and handouts at in-person presentations, give teachers, community groups, professionals working with the blind and all of us, a very interesting beginning to an understanding of what the everyday blind person accomplished and the lives they led in the United States.

Look for the in-depth biographies published by The Blind History Lady distributed by Smashwords at your favorite eBook retailer or at

My books have received favorable ratings by readers such as yourselves. The Blind History Lady Presents; The First Things I learned has been given a five star rating.

The Blind History Lady

Karsten Ohnstad

My latest book is about a Minnesota boy, gong blind as a teen in the 1920’s He struggles with the transition from the sighted world to the blind world, but not because he worries about learning new life skills, but because of his own expectations, the expectations of others and the observations he himself make in the blind world—the good and the bae.

Growing up, he wanted to be a teacher and an artist. Even though he knew there were blind teachers, finding any school to give him a chance was all but impossible. What to do.

John Swearingen—SC

Only admitted to the state’s college after much persuasion and threats of declining contributions from alumnus’s, Swearingen was allowed to attend college with absolutely no assistance from the college. Four years later, he graduated top of his class. But now, he faced discrimination from the schools across the state who would not hire a blind teacher. In less than ten years, Swearingen was elected Superintendent of the South Carolina Department of Education in charge of all of the schools, colleges and policies surrounding education for the entire state. Read how he went from the outside of the educational systems in South Carolina , to inspiring and effecting changes in the South Carolina educational system that led the state to provide a quality education for all.

Albert Gonzales –NM

A man of firsts for New Mexico. Albert was the first blind man to pass the state bar exam. The first blind man to graduate from a New Mexico College and most likely, the first blind millionaire in the state. Before his death, he was also the oldest, practicing attorney in the state. During his life, he was a true part of New Mexico history, binding over for trial, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.

Edward Campbell — MI

Blinded by an accident while teaching chemistry, Campbell went on to make a difference in everyone’s lives with his experiments with cement and concrete. When an experiment blew up in his face while teaching when only 29, Edward took spring break to heal. Ten days later, he was back in class, teaching.

John Brown Herreshoff — RI

A boat builder and he was blind. John Brown Herreshoff went blind as a teen. This did not stop him from being the man who built many of the racing vessels that won the World’s Cup, submarines and much, much more.

Blindness ran in his family. Learn more about the lives of his three other blind siblings from the family of nine children.

George Tannehill — IA

A teacher of the blind, politician and community leader. Here a blind man taught blind students complicated mathematics in the 19th century that surpassed many of the sighted children in the state. He did so without books, electricity and heat!

The Mast Family — CA

Blindness and deafness ran in this family during the last half of the 19th century and early part of the 20th century. Four out of six siblings were disabled yet lived lives that included careers that out-stripped one of the non-disabled siblings. They all pursued varied and different careers in California and avoided poverty. For the Mast family, the expectation was that they were to support themselves, no one else should take on that responsibility. And they did.

Francis Edgecombe –NE

Did you know that many, many men went into the newspaper business in the 19th and early 20th centuries? I was surprised. One of them was Francis Edgecombe of Nebraska, born in 1864. When going blind, he knew a blind person could not be a banker, so he decided to continue on with his local newspaper. Over a period of several decades, he created an empire that lasts to this day.

Owen Schillinglaw –NM

Owen was the coal and fuel king of Las Vegas New Mexico. Blindness was not his biggest obstacle, yet he not only founded a business that is still in operation, under non-family management today, but was a community leader who’s contributions include the local train engine, retired by its railroad, bought by the town with financial support and refurbished from Owen, that stands at the entrance to the town today.

James Woodlee –NM

James was one of the blind Chiropractors of this country that not only made a good living at his job, but contributed to the advancement of his profession because of his blindness. As a blind doctor, he wanted a better method to identify problems brought to him by his clients, with instruments that he could use. He designed a non-visual way to do so and brought it to market. It was a successful product, not just because blind chiropractors could use this product, but that the sighted doctors could use it as well.