Blanche Van Leuven Browne papers: 1898-1981 (bulk 1907-1930)
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Biography

Blanche Van Leuven Browne was born in 1881 in Milford, Michigan. At the age of three, she suffered a case of infantile paralysis, often known as polio, that left her paralyzed on her right side. Using a theraputic routine developed by her mother, she was able to regain movement and strength in the affected area. At the age of fifteen, she was hospitalized for several years in St. Luke's Hospital in Chicago to undergo treatments to correct a spinal curvature stemming from her illness and treatment.

Browne's childhood illness and hospitalization inspired a passion for improving the lives of children with physical disabilities. She passionately believed these children should not be pitied and instead given the opportunity to become productive citizens. In 1907, she formed the Van Leuven Browne Hospital School for Crippled Children in Detroit to provide physically disabled children with an education. The Hospital School serviced over 200 children under Browne's leadership between 1907-1917. In 1923, it merged with a similar facility to become the Michigan Crippled Children's Home. Browne also founded a summer camp in Fort Hebron, Michigan which featured the first Boy Scout and Camp Fire Girls troops for disabled children.

Browne was a prolific writer and published many materials championing improved treament for physically disabled children, including the short novels "A Story of the Children's Ward" and "Easter in the Children's Ward". She also published a magazine, "The Van Leuven Browne Magazine", providing updates about the Hospital School and articles about the condition and treatment of her students.

Browne adopted 11 children, many of whom had spent time in the Hospital School. In the early 1920s, Browne moved the family to New York with the intention of establishing another hospital school in that area. However, after suffering financial hardships the family settled in Lancaster, Pennsylvania where Browne continued her advocacy work. The family returned to Michigan shortly before Browne's death in 1930.