- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Robert Charles Moon

Born  1844
Died  1914

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English-American ophthalmologist, born 1844, Brighton, England; died 1914, USA.

Biography of Robert Charles Moon

Robert Charles Moon was the son of William Moon (1818-1894) who had lost his sight in early manhood. Unable to pursue his wish to become a priest, he devoted his life to the blind. Because the embossed type which is named for Louis Braille (1809-1852) was considered difficult to learn, William Moon invented another embossed type which became known as "Moon type".

William Moon began to devise his easier system in 1845. In it, the letters were very simple in outline, combined with full orthography. Most of the characters were either the unaltered or slightly modified forms of the Roman letter. "By it, a lad who had in vain for five years endeavoured to learn to read by the other systems could in ten days read easy sentences.'' He printed his first sheet of raised characters on a wooden hand-press in his house at Brighton in 1847. In 1848 he began stereotyping the New Testament, and the Bible was completed ten years later, in December 1858. William Moon was a pioneer in the teaching of the blind. He established the "Moon's Institution for Embossing and Circulating the Holy Scriptures and Other Useful Books"

His son Robert's choice of a career in ophthalmology was determined by his early experiences in assisting his father in translating and transcribing reading matter for the visually handicapped. As early as in 1858 and on several subsequent occasions, Robert travelled with his father through Holland and parts of Germany, where his father wished to interest the institutions for the blind in his system.

Robert qualified in medicine in London and held a surgical appointment at the South London Ophthalmic Hospital during the period 1866-1878. This hospital had been founded by his senior colleague John Zacchariah Laurence. He then visited ophthalmological clinics in Paris and Utrecht and in 1879 emigrated to the United States. He received a diploma from the Jefferson College, Philadelphia and settled into ophthalmological practice in that city. He carried on his fathers work, establishing the Moon Press for the Blind and involving himself in their welfare.

In 1882, Dr. William Moon and his daughter, Miss Adelaide Moon, made an extensive tour of America, and as a result of his visit, free lending libraries were established in Philadelphia. In 1871 he had been given the Hon. degree of LL.D. by the University of Philadelphia in recognition of his work for the blind.

Robert C. Moon continued his philantropic activities for the blind after his retirement and became Secretary of the Pennsylvania Home Teaching Society, Boston, Chicago and Pittsburgh. In 1905 he became the editor of the monthly "Moon Magazine", published by Gardner's Trust for the Blind. His sister Adelaide died on November 12, 1914.


  • The Morris Family of Philadelphia: Descendants of Anthony Morris 1654-1721.
    Philadelphia, Robert C. Moon, M.D., Walnut Street: 1898.
    Moon was a member of the historical and genealogical societies of Pennsylvania and this latter interest led him to write this book concerning the progenitors of his wife, Margaret H. Morris, whom he married in Philadelphia in 1886.
  • John Rutherford:
    William Moon and his Work for the Blind. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1898.
  • Charles Thomas Burt:
    The Moon Society. A Century of Achievement 1848-1948. London, 1948.

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