Eleventh Biennial Report













Hon. EZEKIEL B. KEPHART, President
Hon. SAMUEL H. WATSON, Treasurer.

Rev. S. A. Knapp, M. A.


Literary Department
M. L. WARD. A. B.

JOHN LONGER, Orchestra and Violin


Beadwork etc.

Home Department.
S. A. KNAPP, Steward
Mrs. M. E. BUTLER, Matron
Miss. RHONDA PHILLIPS, Housekeeper.





To the Honorable, the General Assembly of the State of Iowa:

     We beg leave to submit the following report of the the management of the Iowa College of the Blind, for the term ending November, 1873.

     The health of the school, during this period, has been excellent. There have been no contagious diseases, and but rare cases of sickness of any kind. The general healthfulness of the school for the past four years has been almost without parallel in the history of any institution. The superior sanitary regulations have doubtless contributed to this result.

     We are gratified that the discipline, scholarship and general educational advantages of the Institution are such as to entitle it to a high rank among the foremost schools for the blind in the land, and that the position and influence of the Iowa College are felt and recognized not only in Iowa, but in other States. It is the aim of the trustees to maintain its present high standing by the judicious exercise of all the powers vested in them.


     The appropriations of the Fourteenth General Assembly, for musical instruments, grounds and printing press, have been expended in accordance with the design for which they were granted. The printing press was not purchased as soon as expected, because of unavailable delay in adapting the point alphabet to music and testing the process of point-printing.


     The third section of chapter forty-five of the laws of the Fourteenth General Assembly, appropriated the sum of seventy thousand dollars to be expended in the erection of a north wing to the Iowa College for the Blind, which building should not cost to exceed one hundred thousand dollars.

     The board of trustees met on the 30th day of April, 1872, to make preliminary arrangements to carry into effect the purposes of the law. They employed Mr. George Josselyn, of Independence, as architect, with instruction to prepare the working plans, with estimates, as soon as practicable. On the 18th day of May, the board again convened, and decided to let, by contract, so much of the work as would not exceed the amount appropriated. This, in their judgment, would embrace the erection and complete inclosure of the building, including piazza, area wells, partition walls, (when made of brick or stone,) joists and deadening of floors.

     In accordance with this plan the Secretary was instructed to advertise for proposals in newspapers issued at Vinton, Dubuque, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and Des Moines. On the 18th day of July the board met and received the following sealed proposals:

Messrs. Janes & Ewing, Des Moines       $69,000.00
David Armstrong, Independence   67,854.40
A. D. Barnum, Cedar Falls   65,790.00
Messrs. Finkbine & Lovelace, Iowa City   64,860.00

     The contract was awarded to Messrs. Finkbine & Lovelace, who filed a bond in the sum of twenty-five thousand dollars to complete the work in accordance with the plans and specifications, on or before the 31st day of December, 1873.

     Messrs. Finkbine & Lovelace commenced work immediately, and have prosecuted it with unabated energy till the present time. Their contract is now completed. No pains have been spared by the contractors to make the building one of the most substantial structures in Iowa. Mr. Lovelace and Mr. James B. Locke have devoted their entire time to the supervision of the work. The best of material has been furnished, and the most skillful mechanics have been employed. With the sum remaining, after an amount sufficient to pay the contractors, it was deemed advisable to complete the basement and construct a drain. This has been done by day’s labor---the mason work under the supervision of James B. Locke, and the carpenter work in charge of Messrs. Sanderson & Durfee. To the extent of completing the basement, more has been accomplished with the money than was anticipated at the time the appropriation was made.

     The thirty thousand dollars allowed for the completion of the building will be more than necessary. That amount will be sufficient to complete the building, construct the cisterns and well, and put in the heating apparatus.


     The attention of the General Assembly should be directed to an important question in connection with heating the new building; and, in order to fully understand it, it is necessary to refer to the history of the appropriation for heating the main building.

     Estimates were prepared by the Board of Trustees for steam heating, engine-house, laundry, &c., and forwarded to the Thirteenth General Assembly, and an appropriation asked for the purposes designated. In the Judgment of the committee appointed by the honorable General Assembly to visit the Institution, the estimates submitted were too high by about four thousand dollars, and accordingly the appropriation was reduced by that amount. In the prosecution of the work, the construction of the air-flues under the building was considerably more expensive than anticipated, and it became necessary, in order to complete the work, to make a reduction in the size of the engine-house and locate it as near the main building as practicable, regarding it as a cheap and temporary structure, but the best that could be done with the means at the command of the board. To heat the new building an additional boiler is necessary. This cannot be placed in the present engine-house on account of its small dimensions. Experience has also shown that the present engine-house is so near the principal buildings that they seriously interfere with the draught of the air ducts. In the judgement of the board of trustees it is necessary to construct a new engine-house and laundry of at least four times the capacity of the present building, and at a greater distance from the main buildings. The cost of such a building would be about two thousand dollars, and we ask an appropriation of that amount for the purpose designated.


     To furnish the new building, and fit it for occupancy, will require five thousand dollars in addition to the furniture now in use, that may be adapted to new rooms.


     For the improvement of grounds it requires usually on appropriation of one thousand dollars, but in view of the debris remaining from building, and some necessary grading, we respectfully ask that the sum of two thousand dollars be appropriated.

     We desire here to express our thanks for the consideration you have given our suggestions in former reports, and we assure you that it will be our noblest ambition to discharge the high responsibilities imposed upon us in a way that shall meet the approval of your honorable body, and be worthy of the great State which you represent.

J. L. GAY,








For Wing                    $ 70,000.00
Date   No. of Warrant            Amount
Aug. 31   4 - By order on State Treasurer   $ 12,117.43
Sept. 30   5 - By order on State Treasurer   18,033.60
June 10   6 - By order on State Treasurer   18,741.75
Aug. 19   7 - By order on State Treasurer   11,107.75
Oct. 7   8 - By order on State Treasurer      5,200.00
    Total amount received   $ 65,200.00



June 12   E. B. Kephart, traveling expenses   $ 18.50
Sept. 3   Republican, advertising   12.00
Sept. 3   State Press, advertising   11.50
Sept. 3   George Josselyn, Architect   13.50
Sept. 3   Taft & Co., Stone-work   65.55
Sept. 3   Hanford & Rich, advertising   10.00
Sept. 3   S. L. Thatcher, Removing building on ground   75.00
Sept. 3   Dubuque Times, advertising   25.00
Sept. 13   E. B. Kephart, mileage   8.00
Oct. 2   Iowa State Register, advertising   20.00
Oct. 2   C. H. Conklin, drawing contract   10.00
Aug. 19   St. Louis Stoneware Co., drain pipe   228.80
Oct. 7   W. H. Harrison & Bro., radiators   351.00
Oct. 7   S. H. Watson, freight bills paid   106.57
Oct. 7   Sanderson & Durfee, labor on basement   68.76
Oct. 7   Sanderson & Durfee, labor on basement   32.75
Oct. 7   Crane Bros. Manufacturing Co., pipe for basement   37.47
Oct. 7   Stickney Bros., lumber for basement   827.31
Oct. 7   Ringland, Vincent & Meservey, plaster Paris   192.50
Oct. 7   John Cisna, land for drain   150.75
Oct. 7   A. S. Chadbourne, water lime   32.50
Oct. 7   J. B. Locke, mason work on basement and drain   602.31
Oct. 7   James A. Brown, Surveying drain   13.00
Nov. 4   George Horridge, registers and nails   201.29
Nov. 4   T. R. Pollis & Bros., iron soil pipe   81.70
Nov. 4   Hospital for Insane (Independence) soil branches   22.00
Nov. 4   Truman Chapman, labor on heating   117.50
Nov. 4   Sanderson & Durfee, labor on basement   117.00
Nov. 4   B. C. R. & M. R. R. freight, radiators   47.14
Nov. 4   J. B. Locke, mason work on basement   466.62
Nov. 4   George Smouse, labor on heating   46.37
Nov. 4   A. S. Chadbourne, water lime   39.00
Nov. 4   Sanderson & Durfee, Labor on basement   94.00
Nov. 4   Finkbine & Lovelace, on contract, total to date   60,000.00
    Total paid out to date   64,145.39
    Balance in hands of Treasurer       1,054.61



For musical instruments, printing press and grounds       $ 3,500.00
Date       No. of Warrant       Amount
July 5   1 - Labor on grounds   $87.50
July 5   2 - Labor on grounds   24.62
July 5   3 - Labor on grounds   48.00
July 5   4 - Labor on grounds   72.00
July 5   5 - Labor on grounds   59.25
July 5   6 - Labor on grounds   15.75
July 5   7 - James Chapin, stone foundation of fence   244.60
July 5   8 - M. Donlan & Co. labor   269.50
Sept. 3   9 - L. W. Mickey, labor on fence   85.45
Oct. 2   10 - Story & Camp, Estey organ   169.00
Oct. 2   11 - Freight on piano from Boston   18.41
Oct. 2   12 - Chickering piano   820.00
Oct. 2   13 - J. Howard Foote, musical instrument   52.33
Nov. 6   14 - C. Ellis & Bros. lumber for fence   157.68
Nov. 6   15 - Watson & Ravenscroft, posts   34.35
Dec. 2   16 - Chickering & Sons, piano       350.00
      Total      2,508.44
    Balance on hand for printing press        991.58
      Total 3,500.00



*The printing press has been purchased but the account has not yet been audited





His Excellency, C. C. Carpenter, Governor of Iowa:

     Sir: I have the honor to submit the following report of the Iowa College for the Blind for the biennial term terminating November 1st, 1873:

     Every year demonstrates the justice and the wisdom of educating the blind at public expense, and gives evidence that the results will be commensurate with the comprehensive plans, and the liberal expenditure of money, of the State of Iowa, in extending the blessing of education to her less favored children. It is a matter of congratulation that the Institution, toward which the people of this great State have pursued such a liberal policy, has been able to meet the reasonable expectations of its founders and friends, and has become an inestimable blessing to the class for which it was established.

     Upon every hand we find material for abundant gratitude to the Great Giver. The excellent health and increasing vitality of the pupils have been cause of constant thankfulness. The influence of our home agencies has been more definite in molding character; the interest and progress in every department of the school have been eminently satisfactory; and the good the Institution has been able to accomplish seems to have been wider and more permanent than ever before. It is a gratifying result of the culture here that a large proportion of the graduates have become useful members of society. A majority of the adults discharged are earning an honorable support in some field of creditable industry. Some are engaged in teaching; quire a number have successfully established their trades; several are canvassing for books or musical instruments; one young lady, after spending less than a year at this school, commenced the manufacture of bead-work, and last year she netted over four hundred dollars; three young men have engaged in trade successfully; and two, Mr. Jacob Niermeyer and Mr. Isaac Larne, have within a year, been appointed instructors in the Kansas Institution for the Blind.

     If the history of each pupil could be written, it would show an aggregate of good accomplished, creditable to the Institution, and not unworthy of the generous expenditure in establishing and maintaining it. The whole number of pupils in attendance is 112, of which 90 have reported to date. The following table affords a summary of the numerical progress of the school;


First Report   1853   Samuel Bacon  



Second Report   1855   Samuel Bacon  



Third Report   1857   Samuel Bacon  



Fourth Report   1859   Samuel Bacon  



Fifth Report   1861   Samuel Bacon  



Sixth Report   1863   Orlando Clark  



Seventh Report   1865   Reed Wilkinson  



Eighth Report   1867   James L. Geddes  



Ninth Report   1869   S. A. Knapp  



Tenth Report   1871   S. A. Knapp  



Eleventh Report   1873   S. A. Knapp  




     This department continues to improve in discipline and scholarly tone with a rapidity truly gratifying. The complete classification has contributed largely to this desirable result.

     In the Preparatory Department, the fundamental branches---reading, spelling, geography, penmanship, and arithmetic---are taught, also, history of the United States; and careful attention is paid to the best methods of study, of training the memory, and of disciplining the intellect, that the foundation of knowledge may be laid right.

     Two excellent teachers are employed in this department, Mrs. J. L. Walker, and Miss Angeline Harrington.

     In the Junior Division the following branches are taught:

          FIRST YEAR                     SECOND YEAR                     THIRD YEAR
Spelling. Penmanship. Penmanship.
Penmanship. Grammar and Parsing Analysis & Parsing
Geography. Written Arithmetic. Written Arithmetic.
Grammar. Phsiology Natural Phlosophy.
Arithmetic. Ancient History. Modern History.
Ancient History.

     In the senior courses are the following branches.

          FIRST YEAR                     SECOND YEAR                     THIRD YEAR
Rhetoric. Algebra (completed) Geometry.
Logic. Geometry. Trigonometry.
Algebra. Mental Philosophy. Moral Philosophy.
Astronomy. Chemistry. Botany.
Modern History. English Literature. Geology.
    American Literature.


     The instructors of the Seniors and Juniors are Mr. M. L. Ward, Miss Mary McFarland, and Mr. George W. Tannihill, each an experienced and thorough teacher. As pupils are admitted to the institution, they are graded according to scholarship, and assigned to suitable classes, and are advanced at the close of each year upon passing a satisfactory examination. The instruction is principally oral.

     Owing to necessary delays in adapting the New York point alphabet to music, it has been impracticable to purchase a printing press until the present time. All obstacles have bow been removed, and the press, with type and apparatus, has been purchased. In the future, outlines of lessons can be printed, and much of the valuable time of the teachers saved. Too much credit cannot be given to Mr. Wait, Superintendent of the New York Institute for the Blind, for his earnest and valuable labors in perfecting the point alphabet and adapting it to music.


     Under the direction of Mr. H. Irvin Proctor, is making very satisfactory progress.

     The orchestra for the term of 1872-1873, was ably conducted by Mr. Jacob Niermeyer. Mr. Niermeyer being elected musical director of the Kansas School for the Blind, in the spring of 1873, Mr. John Langer was engaged to fill his place. Mr. Langer is a native of, and recently from, Germany, is a very fine teacher of the violin, and is doing excellent work with the orchestra. We have in use ten pianos, and one pipe organ and two reed organs, also a good supply of instruments for the orchestra.

     There are two classes in the theory of music, and two vocal classes; a primary and advanced class in each.

     We anticipate great advantage in introducing into this department the New York point system of Musical Notation. In fact, many of the pupils have already acquired such proficiency as to enable them to write down their lessons before committing them to memory, which is a great advantage to them; for, having their music thus written, it is always available for reference. They can thus be as independent as any seeing person with an ordinary copy of music before him. I might here say that the pupils are very eager to learn this system, which argues favorably for its success. With the press for printing the music for the blind, I think we may anticipate the best of results.

     Great pains have been taken in this department to give the most thorough instruction, and to cultivate a taste for a high class of music. On each Friday, the entire department is called together, and after receiving the report of the pupils upon attendance to lessons, and to practice hours, Mr. Proctor devotes the remainder of the hour in giving them such advise as may be deemed necessary to their work, in reading the Musical News of the day, and in playing to them from the works of Beethoven, Mozart, Handel, and others, as well as from many of the more modern composers. This hour is looked forward to with a great deal of pleasure by the pupils.

     Several of the most advanced students are employed as assistant music teachers.

     The following is a summary of numbers of pupils and classes in this department.


Number of pupils taking lessons on the Piano       58
Number of pupils taking lessons on the Organ   10
Number of pupils taking lessons on the Violin   14
Number of classes in Harmony   2
Number of classes in Vocal Music   2
Number of classes in New York point system, Music Notation   1
Number of pupils in the Orchestra   14


     The Industrial Department was never in a more satisfactory condition than at present. In the male department, Mr. John Cisna superintends the instruction---a position he has filled with marked adaptation and ability for a number of years. In the broom shops each pupil is allowed a reasonable price per dozen for labor in manufacturing. Any surplus, after reimbursing the institution for all amounts expended in the purchase of material, is given in full compensation for the services of a mechanic, who purchases the material, repairs the machinery, keeps the accounts with the pupils, and sells the brooms. This financial plan has worked for two years to the entire satisfaction of all parties. The plan of compensating the pupils for labor performed, is far in advance of the old method of compulsory labor. The pupils learn with greater rapidity; take more pains to do their work well and are more industrious. As soon as practicable, each pupil is required to do all parts of the work precisely as if he were working in his own shop, and is instructed in the best methods of conducting the business. In the mattress and cane-seating shop, the pupils are required to manufacture upon their own responsibility, except that, at the commencement, a letter of credit, to a small amount, is given them in case of necessity. This shop has been a marvel of success to those who doubt the capability of the blind to manage business for themselves.

     It must be evident to every thoughtful person that pupils taught in this way are more complete masters of the trades, and more likely to successfully establish them, than those taught upon the compulsory plan.


     Care has been exercised to make this institution complete in all departments of education. Cultivated intellects and skilled hands are only a portion of the results to be achieved. The molding of the entire being is confided to our care. Social influences must be organized and controlled; habits of order and cleanliness established; notations of propriety imported; the claims of society recognized, and moral responsibility enforced, until youth is molded into a manhood and womanhood of abundant health and energies; a being of absolute order and perfect obedience to every moral and social law, that the trained intellect and skilled hand may accomplish their noblest possibilities.

     If so great a work as this be in view, not the least thing that bears upon the result can with safety be neglected. Persons of experience and special fitness must be employed in each department, and each must be considered a part of the educating force. Our home arrangements, in a great degree meet these broad demands. As far as possible, everything has been organized upon the basis of a high-toned Christian family, and the results have in a great measure, met our reasonable expectations. The Matron, Mrs. M. E. Butler, is a woman of established character and experience. The Housekeeper, Miss Rhoda Phillips, has occupied the position with credit for a number of years.


     1. Experience has demonstrated that blind persons over twenty-one years of age are too old to commence the work of acquiring an education. Without culture till that age, they seem to find it difficult to fix their attention upon a subject long enough to mast it. They are unwilling or unable to apply themselves to school tasks; they are impatient of control, and in the case of males have generally formed habits which are very detrimental to a school. I therefore recommend that a law be enacted prohibiting the admission of any blind person into the literary or musical departments of the Iowa College for the Blind over twenty-one years of age, and that persons over that age be received only for an industrial education, and then shall be allowed to remain a term not to exceed two years. It will be of great assistance to the Superintendent in protecting the interests of the State if some law of this character be enacted.

     2. I believe it to be important that the course of study be prescribed by law, and that the period of time any pupil is permitted to remain in the institution be also determined by law. As the law now stands, the pupils think they have a right to remain as long as they desire, and if they are not allowed to return, even though they have completed their trade or course of study, they feel personally aggrieved at the authorities.

     3. The social relations of the sexes in institutions for the blind present a very complicated question. To allow no association will destroy some of the strongest education forces known, and deprive the pupils of the most refining influences in human society; but, if permitted in the least, it leads to social alliances fraught with evil to the parties and to the public. The conviction seems to be general among educators of the blind that the blind should not intermarry. There are many reasons, but one is sufficient, and that is, the tendency to blindness is hereditary, especially where the loss of sight is the result of scrofula. Might not the law justly interpose to prevent the transmission of so great a calamity? In cases where both parties are dependent on the public bounty, is it not clearly the right of the State to prevent social alliance?


     The Fourteenth General Assembly provided for the erection of an additional wing to the main building of the institution. The completion of this addition will place at the disposal of the school apartments that have been for a number of years necessary to the comfort of the pupils and the complete organization of the school. Great credit is due to the board of trustees, and to the contractors, Messrs. Finkbine and Lovelace, for the thoroughness and energy with which the work has thus far been conducted. It is extremely desirable that the building should be completed at as early a period as practicable. The best interests of the school and a wise economy on the part of the State require it.


     The following tables exhibit the financial condition from date of last report to Nov. 1st, 1873.

Sept. 1   To brooms and material on hand   $1,408.13    
Nov. 1   To amount of material purchased   293.87 --- $1,702.00
Nov. 1   By received from sales to date   857.52    
Nov. 1   By brooms used by institution to date   116.37    
Nov. 1   Brooms and material on hand   728.11   $1,702.00
Nov. 1   To bead-work and material on hand   212.86    
Nov. 1   To material furnished   38.25    
Nov. 1   To profit   29.92   $ 281.03
Nov. 1   By sales   219.38    
Nov. 1   By work and material on hand   61.85   $ 281.03


     Mattress making, worsted work, etc., are conducted by the pupils


     The amount appropriated by the State for current expenses has been sufficient for the school to the present time, though it has been necessary to use the most rigid economy and to forgo the purchase of many things that would have been conducive to the interests of the school, especially in the Literary Department. The expenditure for repairs and unanticipated improvements form no inconsiderable a tax upon the current fund. In the construction of buildings there are some expenses for which provision is not made in the general appropriation; such expenses must be charged to the current account. It has required careful attention to every item of expenditure to meet all the demands incident to building and the successful management of the school, from the amount appropriated.

     I subjoin a classified statement of expenditures from November 7, 1871, to November 4, 1873:

Salaries of Officers and Teachers       $10,338.67
Wages Employees   6,422.45
Fuel (including stock on hand for ensuing winter)   8,268.74
Total expenditure for Boarding Department and
Laundry except labor and fuel
Lamps and oil   245.40
Furnishing   3,236.05
Repairs and improvements   3,093.97
Trustees   609.85
Physician and medicine   457.27
Music Department (except salaries)   691.30
Freight and express   299.51
Pupils’ clothing   2,142.92
All other items, (stationary, postage, blacksmithing,
industries, etc.)


     The abstracts and vouchers accompanying this report will exhibit the various articles purchased, and the treasurers report, the expenditure and cash received.

     Allow me, in submitting this report, to return my thanks to the trustees for the uniform courtesy with which they have treated me, and for their cordial co-operation in every effort to promote economy or thoroughness in the management of the affairs of the institution.

     I feel deeply indebted to the officers and teachers for the entire harmony that has prevailed, and for the unanimity with which they have labored for the common good.

     In conclusion, I desire to commend the interests of this institution and its inmates to the paternal care of the State.

Respectfully submitted,
S. A. KNAPP, Superintendent

Vinton, Benton county, Iowa