The optical properties of praseodymium-doped glasses have attracted considerable attention recently for their potential application as a 1.3 micron optical amplifier. We report here on our spectroscopic evaluation of a series of low-phonon-energy glasses based on halides and sulphides. These results, though driven by the desire for a practical amplifier, provide insight into the application of these glasses not only for telecommunications applications, but also an understanding of the overall optical properties of a low-phonon-energy glass. Using Raman spectroscopy, the vibrational characteristics of the glass host are determined. Absorption measurements across the visible and infrared allow evaluation of the intrinsic loss of these glasses when in fiber form, as well as providing an indication of glass purity. Fluorescence of Pr3+-doped glasses, through excitation of the 3P0, 1D2 and 1G4 levels, is measured along with the fluorescence lifetimes. These radiative properties are compared to those predicted by a Judd-Ofelt analysis, which has been performed on all glasses. In this way, this work provides an overall spectroscopic evaluation of the optical properties of low-phonon-energy glasses, leading the way towards a practical device.