Christian Record Services for the Blind Marks 125 Years of Service

The ministry has benefited thousand of legally blind people around the world.

Christian Record Services, and Adventist Review
Christian Record Services for the Blind Marks 125 Years of Service
In 1899, Austin O. Wilson, a legally blind young man in his early 20s, launched what would become Christian Record Services, which turns 125 in 2024. [Photo: Christian Record Services for the Blind]

In the heart of compassion and dedication, Christian Record Services (CRS) stands tall as it celebrates an incredible milestone — 125 years of unwavering commitment to serving individuals worldwide who are blind and visually impaired. Since its inception in 1899, CRS has been a beacon of hope, breaking down barriers and providing life-changing services to individuals facing vision challenges. 

Founded on the principles of love and Christian values, CRS strives to meet the changing needs of its members. For more than a century, the organization has been at the forefront of initiatives aimed at empowering individuals who are blind or visually impaired, fostering inclusivity and enabling independence. 

The 125th anniversary is not just a celebration of longevity but a testament to the enduring impact CRS has had and continues to have on the lives of countless individuals. 

“The organization’s founder, Austin O. Wilson, dreamed of more Christian braille resources for people like himself to learn more about God’s love for them,” CRS president Diane Thurber said from the organization’s headquarters in Lincoln, Nebraska, United States. “Reaching this monumental milestone demonstrates how his vision was fulfilled with the expanding services and programs offered through the years. We look forward to continued growth and meaningful service.” 

As CRS commemorates 125 years of service, it stands as a shining example of love, resilience, and the transformative power of dedicated service as it continues to illuminate the path toward a more inclusive, accessible world for the blind and visually impaired community.

About Austin O. Wilson and the Work of CRS

In 1899, Austin O. Wilson, a legally blind young man in his early 20s, was concerned about the lack of Christian reading material available for the blind. He decided to try an experiment. Taking a clothes wringer, he modified it to accommodate two metal plates with a sheet of heavy paper between them. As the plates were squeezed through the wringer, the raised dots on the plates made an impression on the paper, producing one page of a braille magazine he entitled the Christian Record. More than one hundred years later, the Christian Record is still being published, along with eight other periodicals.

Wilson produced 75 copies of the first Christian Record. In the 1920s, the Christian Record was being placed in the hands of thousands of blind people around the world.

In 1933 and 1934, Christian Record Services was one of the exhibitors in the Hall of Religion at the World’s Fair, under the theme “A Century of Progress,” in Chicago, Illinois, United States. A year later, CRS was again prominently represented in the Hall of Science at America’s Exposition, held in San Diego, California.

In 1950, the first talking books were recorded for Christian Record Services. There are now more than 1,600 talking books available through the Naomi Chapman Turner Library for the Blind.

In 1967, National Camps for Blind Children was established. That first summer, the camp was held in Florida with 23 youth in attendance. Since then, this outreach program has offered nearly 50,000 confidence-building experiences in nature through these special camps.

Christian Record Services, Inc., is an official ministry of the North American Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

The original version of this story was posted on the North American Division news site.

Christian Record Services, and Adventist Review