Seventeenth Biennial Report
SEVENTEENTH BIENNIAL REPORT
COLLEGE FOR THE BLIND
LOCATED AT VINTON,
GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF IOWA
JUNE 30, 1885
PRINTED BY ORDER OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY.
GEO. E. ROBERTS, STATE PRINTER.
Hon. C. O. HARRINGTON, President.
Hon. SAMUEL H. WATSON, Treasure
Hon. JACOB SPRINGER
Hon. J. F. BARCLAY
Hon. .M. H. WESTBROOK
Hon. G. M. MILLER.
OFFICERS OF THE COLLEGE.
THOMAS F. McCUNE, A. M.
JAMES A. BROWN.
Mrs. HOMAR JAMES.
TEACHES IN THE ACADEMIC DEPARTMENT.
Miss SADIE E. WAYCHOFF, Assistant Principal,
Miss HORTENSE McCRORY.
GEORGE W. TANNEHILL
TEACHERS IN THE PRIMARY DEPARTMENT.
Miss LORANA MATTICE,
Miss ANNIE SIDWELL
Miss MINTA KEITH
TEACHERS IN THE MUSICAL DEPARTMENT.
T. S. SLAUGHTER, Musical Director.
Mrs. JOHN CISNA
Miss MILLIE DOWNS
TEACHERS IN THE WORK DEPARTMENT.
JOHN CISNA, Broom-making.
LORANA MATTICE, Fancy Work
A. C. FERREBY, Mattress Shop
AMIE HERRIOTT, Sewing Machine
C. C. GRIFFIN, M. D.
C. M. HOBBY
REPORT OF THE TRUSTEES.
To the Honorable, the General Assembly of the State of Iowa:
The undersigned trustees of the Iowa College for the Blind respectfully submit the following report for the biennial period ending June 30, 1885:
The term covered by this report has been very successful in all departments of the College. The average attendance has been larger than in any previous two years in the history of the Institution. The buildings and grounds have received such attention as the funds at our disposal warranted.
The appropriation of twelve hundred dollars made by the Twentieth General Assembly for repair of slate roof was deemed by us as entirely inadequate, and was not drawn. The College roof is in bad condition; the high winds blow off the slate and the rains flood the building, doing great damage to the interior. Such temporary repairs as have been made to roof have been of but little utility. In our opinion the old slate roof should be entirely removed and replaced with new slate of smaller size. The wooden cornice on main building and south wing is practically worn out and should be replaced with galvanized iron cornice to correspond with cornice on north wing.
The wooden stairs in main building and south wing are in bad condition and will have to be replaced with new. In our judgment it will be economy to replace the wooden stairs with iron stairs. The portico over main entrance to College needs a new foundation, and the wooden steps and floor of said portico are worn out, and should in our judgment be replaced with stone steps and floor; the stone for this purpose can be obtained from the Penitentiary at Anamosa with but little expense to the State. In the halls and many of the rooms of the College the floors are badly worn and should be replaced with new. The wood work of the College building inside and outside needs two coats of paint. We requested the Hon. R. S. Finkbine to carefully inspect the building and report to us such repairs as in his judgment were necessary to protect the property, and to make a careful and detailed estimate of the cost of said repairs. Mr. Finkbine in his report recommends repairs as above mentioned, and says: "In my judgment, all that I have enumerated should be done to place the building in good repair, and most of it is necessary to prevent greater dilapidation. I estimate the cost of the repairs to be $18,150.55."
Mr. Finkbine submitted to us a detailed estimate of the cost of said repairs.
We therefore ask for an appropriation of eighteen thousand and two hundred dollars (18,200) for purpose of making said repairs, and for painting the wood work of the College. The capacity of our cisterns is not sufficient to supply the needs of the College. We ask for an appropriation of six hundred dollars ($600) for purpose of constructing two five hundred barrel cisterns. The capacity of the two boilers used for heating the College is fully taxed. In case of accident to one during the winter months great suffering would be occasioned to the inmates of the Institution. We therefore ask for an appropriation of eighteen hundred dollars ($1,800) for the purchase of an additional boiler and the necessary fixtures and front. We consider the following special appropriations necessary:
For contingent expenses and general repair fund the sum of three thousand dollars ($3,000). For beds, bedding and furniture, two thousand dollars ($2,000). For additions to library and purchase of school apparatus, one thousand dollars ($1,000).
The official reports of principal and treasurer are herewith submitted, to which your attention is invited as showing in detail the educational and financial condition of the College.
The appropriation of fifteen hundred dollars ($1,500) made by the Twentieth General Assembly for purpose of enabling your Trustees to secure the services of an expert oculist to examine and operate upon the eyes of such pupils of the Institution as might be benefited thereby, has been drawn. We secured the services of Dr. C. M. Hobby, of Iowa City, as oculist for the College, and have expended to date five hundred dollars of said appropriation. For details your attention is invited to Dr. Hobby's report herewith submitted.
C. O. Harrington, President.
S. H. Watson, Treasurer.
J. T. Barclay.
M. H. Westbrook.
G. M. Miller.
REPORT OF THE PRINCIPAL.
To his Excellency, Buren R. Sherman, Governor of Iowa: Sir—I have the honor to submit a report of the progress and condition of this Institution during the biennial period commencing July 1, 1883, and ending June 30, 1885.
The law, interpreted literally, requires of the Principal a statement of but few facts having special reference to the care and training of the pupils. It would seem, however, that in connection with the specific aims remarked, a brief mention might be made of the causes producing blindness and its effects upon the general health and habits. Should I wander in this particular, my object will not be to arrest your own attention, but to suggest questions of interest to parents and friends of sightless children.
The system of dual government, adopted by the Trustees in June, 1882, still continues to the satisfaction of the parties most interested. The steward and myself are independent in the discharge of our respective duties, each one receiving his trust from the Board, and being responsible to that body alone. Among institution people such a policy meets with high disfavor; and, indeed, the history of many State charities would seem to warrant this sentiment. We have no reason to find fault. Our relationship during three years has been uniformly pleasant and harmonious.
One of the teachers, disliking certain duties connected with her position, resigned in January, 1884. Fortunately a happy selection was made to fill the vacancy at which the division affected soon regained its former tone and strength. The whole staff have labored faithfully and conscientiously. In fact I cannot recall a single instance on the part of either officers or teachers, where the spirit as well as letter of contract has been wittingly disregarded.
A biennial period embraces two school terms, each one beginning on the first Wednesday in September and ending on the second or third Wednesday in June next, when the pupils return to their homes for rest and recreation. The Trustees have discretionary power, but as a rule they admit only those of suitable school age and of satisfactory mental and physical conditions. At the close, June 11, 1884, of the term commencing September 5, 1883,
|The number of male pupils enrolled was||67|
|The number of female pupils enrolled was||90|
|The whole number of pupils instructed during the term was||157|
|At the close, June 10, 1885, of the term commencing September 3, 1884,|
|The number of male pupils enrolled was||71|
|The number of female pupils enrolled was||80|
|The whole number of pupils instructed during the term was||151|
| As will be seen the greatest number of pupils enrolled within the two
school terms embraced in this report was 157. During the first term
of this period,
|The number of male pupils admitted was||20|
|The number of female pupils admitted was||16|
|The whole number of pupils admitted was||36|
|During the second term of this period,|
|The number of male pupils admitted was||21|
|The number of female pupils admitted was||16|
|The whole number of pupils admitted was||37|
The whole number of pupils admitted during the period embraced in this
report was seventy-three.
NATIVITY OF PUPILS
ADMITTED DURING THE PERIOD.
CAUSE OF BLINDNESS OF THOSE
ADMITTED DURING THE PERIOD.
|Opacity of cornea||1|
|Atrophy of optic nerve||1|
AGE OF PUPILS
ADMITTED DURING THE PERIOD.
|Under ten years||16|
|Under fifteen years and over ten||23|
|Under twenty years and over fifteen||18|
|Over twenty years||16|
Reliable authority estimate that, in the United States, the ratio of blind to the entire population is one to twenty-five hundred. In the same latitude of the old world the proportion is larger, and increases with proximity to equator and poles. We would naturally expect this, from the prevalence on the one hand, of burning winds and sand, and on the other, of glittering ice and snow. The affliction is not confined to particular classes and occupations. Every disease to which human life is subject may produce it. Every accident, however trivial, may lead to it.
Statistics show that a much larger proportion of blind persons is found in rural communities than in urban districts. This is not strange when we consider that modes of living, in the country, are favorable to long life; and that blindness in the common infirmity of old age. In this State, eighty-four per cent of the whole number reported are over twenty years of age.
The intermarriage of blood relations is claimed to be one source of the evil. Investigations have been made at various times and places, and with results in seeming confirmation of the theory. Some scientists ridicule this belief, claiming that the number of defective children born to consanguineal unions is not great enough to justify such assumption. They cite the Ptolemies, Hebrew families, especially the Rothschilds, as convincing tests to the contrary. Of the pupils educated in this Institution, ten per cent have been reported congenital cases. We have no means, beyond the records of late years, for ascertaining the relationship of parents.
Scrofula is supposed to be a common cause of blindness. Only eight per cent of our pupils have been registered as scrofulous cases. We find that twenty-five per cent attribute their misfortune to inflammation, which simply means that they do not know the whole truth. I am inclined to think that the inflammation, in most cases, is owing to struma.
Purulent ophthalmia, conjunctivitis, staphyloma, cataract, whooping cough, measles, small-pox, scarlet fever, are prominent and well known causes of this infirmity. Still, inflammation bearing upon this class of sufferers is not trustworthy. An accurate medical examination and special inquiry into the circumstances of each case, would be necessary to a reliable tabulation of the diseases and accidents which produce the large amount of blindness; and such is neither practical nor possible. Eleven per cent of the whole number enrolled in the books of this Institution are marked accidental cases.
Blindness itself does not affect another bodily sense nor any mental faculty. The causes which produce it may also produce concomitant defects, and they frequently do so. Thus the congenital blind often lack vital force, the organs act sluggishly, the general texture seems loose and imperfect. As a consequence, the functions of the brain are sympathetically feeble, perhaps to the extent of idiocy. Such conditions cannot be traced to want of vision.
When the visual organs are destroyed, no power of sensation remains. One so affected does not live in continual night. He is sensible neither of light nor darkness. As the blind forcibly express it, "There is just nothing at all." If the mind be disturbed by colors, spots, or other imagery, the fault lies with the memory and imagination, or still living fibers of the optic nerve and retina.
While representatives of this unfortunate class have reached distinction in nearly every walk of life, the great majority, weighted by their infirmities, seldom rise above mediocrity. The wonder is, that against such odds, they can maintain their characteristic courage, cheerfulness and content. Nature favors them in no way. Having closed one approach to the soul, she sometimes blocks another. Blindness and deafness are not uncommonly associated, while blindness and defective hearing are of frequent concurrence. Blind and deaf children have been satisfactorily taught in a few institutions, but history records the successful education of only two cases combining loss of sight, hearing, and for a time, the sense of smell.
To acquire special skill in the exercise of the senses, no more labor and patience are demanded of the sighted than of those who cannot see. Barring exceptional cases, the remarkable development in the power of hearing, taste, and smell, supposed to be common among the latter class, does not really exist. The organs relied upon become, after years of cultivation, very acute, while those not called into constant use remain in the normal state. Hearing and touch are the great media of communication with the outer world. I have never known even these to reach a subtlety which might not be attained in a sighted person, in the same time and with equal thought and toil.
Other conditions being equal, different grades of the blind, rank intellectually with corresponding grades of the seeing. Although the number susceptible of the highest cultivation is small compared with the entire sightless population, the number endowed with no capacity is also small. Between these two extremes lie a vast body, possessing every shade of understanding, yet lacking the innate power to tread unhelped the road to knowledge. It is to this class that philanthropic attention should be directed.
In the train of blindness there springs up a crop of evils which only educational influences can destroy. The stooping shoulders, the narrow chest, the uncouth gait, the hundred eccentricities of manner, all luxuriate when there is no eye to scorch them. If these are allowed to grow, the bodily health becomes depressed and peculiar physiological manifestations are super-induced. Life cannot present a sadder spectacle than this.
OBJECT OF THE COLLEGE.
This Institution, as its name indicates, was established for the liberal education of the blind. It is in no sense a home or retreat, nor is it afflicted with the irksome features usually incident to charity. In founding it, the State has recognized the popular theory that all defective persons are wards of the commonwealth, upon which they have the strongest moral claims. The fact also has been recognized that the interest and happiness of such classes are not promoted by a system fostering dependence. The College aims to admit children, to engage them in literary, musical, and industrial duties, through a period long or short, as in the judgment of the Trustees may be expedient; and finally to send them into the world able, as cultured men and women, to do their part in the world's work. Some will succeed; a great many will fail, of course. It is expected, however, that all, especially those from poor surroundings, will carry to their homes and transplant there tastes and sympathies that will correct and reform. The notion that station should limit education finds little sympathy in the West.
The course of study remains substantially as in the past. No radical changes are ever made; the Institution aiming to be "wisely progressive and wisely conservative" as well.
At the first of every term, all new pupils, under conditions to be explained hereafter, are admitted into the first form of the First Primary Class. The work of this form—raised print, spelling, counting, outline and dissected maps, covers one year. Sighted pupils are excused from raised print, but are taught some equivalent, as pencil writing in grooved, boards. In spelling, a list of simple words is selected, bearing whenever practical, upon touch reading and grooved writing. Geography is taught objectively. Building and dissecting wooden maps, and the association of names with pieces, being the allotted task.
The work of the second form covers one year. Raised-print, spelling, map dissection, are continued. The four elementary ways of treating members are preserved according to the ability of the average pupil.
The expected results of two years so spent may be totalized as follows: Ability to read simple stories in raised print; to spell and define at least five hundred common words; thorough familiarity with, twelve lines of multiplication; to add, subtract, multiply, and divide small numbers; to construct and dissect a wooden map of any country and name the separate divisions of each.
Promotion is now made to the first form of the second primary class, the work of which covers one year. Reading and writing in New York Point System, are here introduced; oral spelling is continued; addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, are pursued, with special reference to skill in handling numbers; geographical study, confined to North America; reading in raised print, one hour a day.
The second form of this class covers one year. Reading and writing in New York point, continued; oral spelling gives place to spelling in point; subject of fractions taken up; geographical study confined to Europe; raised print, one hour a day.
The result of these two years are expected to be a thorough mastery of the point system; ability to spell well; twenty four lines of multiplication memorized; considerable skill in adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing; a fair knowledge of fractions; a comprehensive knowledge of North America and Europe; and on the part of the entirely blind, ability to read with pleasure and satisfaction, difficult pieces in raised print.
The next step is the first form of the intermediate class. United State history, commence; task in geography, continent of Asia; task in arithmetic, compound numbers; language lessons continued in point.
In the second form, United States history is continued; universal geography introduced; review in arithmetic, of all points studied during the previous five years; language lessons continued in point.
After two years spent in this manner, the pupils will have considerable knowledge of United States history; of descriptive and political geography; of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, fractions, compound numbers, and some understanding of the philosophy of arithmetic; of language, and the best ways of expressing thought, both orally and in point.
But three studies are required in the first junior year: Arithmetic, grammar, physical geography.
But three are required in the second junior year: Arithmetic, history, physiology.
Three are required in the third junior year: Arithmetic, history, natural philosophy.
Four studies are required in the first senior year: Algebra, rhetoric, chemistry, natural history.
Three are required in the second senior year: Algebra, civil government, American literature.
Three are required in the third senior year: Geometry, English literature, mental philosophy.
As will be observed, this course of study, which is rigidly adhered to in the primary and intermediate, and but seldom varied in the higher classes, embraces twelve years. We cannot see that even the sighted may obtain in less time, what this Institution aims to give the blind—a sound English education.
Examinations are held on the last Friday of every month, in the work of the month; on the last Friday of every quarter, in the work of the quarter; and during the closing week in the entire work of the year. Promotion is made When a pupil's yearly standing will average sixty per cent or above, in a scale of one hundred. No allowance is made for sickness or absence from whatever cause.
The assertion is commonly made that close grading is impracticable in schools for the blind. The position is not well taken. For years, close grading in this Institution has given the most gratifying results. Children, bright, simple, indifferent, and older pupils having no previous schooling, are admitted into the lowest class where the teaching is eminently objective and individual. As the properly qualified only are advanced, individual gradually yields to class teaching; so that at the close of the first six years some pupils are on the high road to scholarship, while some, through want of capacity or other cause, are candidates for dismissal. Whenever best, as in the case of adult pupils and shop men, proper studies are selected from the different grades. At the close of this period,
|The number of pupils enrolled in the first primary class was||33|
|The number enrolled in the second primary class was||27|
|The number enrolled in the intermediate class was||25|
|The number enrolled in the second junior class was||21|
|The number enrolled in the first senior class was||10|
|The number enrolled in the second senior class was||7|
|The number enrolled in the third senior class was||4|
|The number enrolled, irregular in course, was||5|
General reading is by no means an unimportant feature of the school. From six until seven, five evenings of the week, the pupils are assembled in five divisions for this purpose. St. Nicholas, and that paper of papers, the Youth's Companion, have been read for many years to the first division, not to entertain, but to turn the young ideas into healthful channels. History, philosophy, fiction, poetry, anything that will awaken, strengthen, broaden, is read at the proper time, and by the proper division. To the intelligent student such opportunities enjoyed through twelve years, must make the field of general literature a very familiar place.
Our facilities in this department, for the present at least, are sufficient. The library comprises thirteen hundred and thirty carefully selected volumes. About five hundred dollars have been expended in the purchase and manufacture of apparatus adapted to the use of the blind. By means of an appropriation granted by the general government, for the benefit of all such institutions in the United States, we receive yearly, as our quota, from the "American Printing House for the Blind," Louisville, Ky., nearly five hundred dollars worth of rinsed print and point books. Such books are distributed among the worthy blind of the State, the recipients paying transportation charges. The "Society for Providing Evangelical Literature for the Blind" has favored us from time to time with interesting works. The raised print and point library now contains twelve hundred volumes.
So far as my observation and inquiries lead, I have found in no other school for the blind a literary society modeled and conducted after the manner of similar organizations in the best colleges. Such a body, composed entirely of students in the higher classes and others over fifteen years of age, and conducted without interference on the part of officers or teachers, has flourished in this institution for seven years. Its advantages cannot be over-estimated. Aside from the main end in view, the practice in parliamentary usages, the caucus meetings, the clans formed, the little strifes, if you will, paradoxical as it may seem, are like green vines entwining the routine of institution life.
On the 7th day of August, 1880, Retta Rath, a member of the second junior class, died in the college. She bequeathed to the trustees five hundred dollars, to be expended at their discretion, for the benefit of the pupils. The board decided to invest the money, and from the interest accruing establish four prizes, two literary and two musical, with open contest for the same to members of the three senior classes. Time has proven the wisdom of their act. Since the foundation seven persons have successfully competed:
|Contest, June 4, 1883, Lillian Blanche Fearing, Davenport, first prize for essay.||$12.00|
|Contest, June 4, 1883, Emma Magoon, Millersburg, one half of second prize for essay||4.00|
|Contest, June 4, 1883, Christine Lemberg, Cedar Rapids, on half second prize for essay.||4.00|
|Contest, June 9, 1884, Lizzie Ryan, Fort Dodge, first prize for essay||12.00|
|Contest, June 9, 1884, Lillian Blanche Fearing, Davenport, Second prize for essay||8.00|
|Contest, June 9, 1885, Adell Rone, Lowden, first prize for essay||12.00|
|Contest, June 9, 1885, Adelia Hoyt, Vinton, second prize for essay||8.00|
The following persons, on completing the course of study, were given certificates of graduation:
Lillian Blanche Fearing, Class of 1884, Davenport, Scott county.
Matilda Mericle, Class of 1884, Garwin, Tama county.
Virginia Pike, Class of 1884, Ogden, Boone county.
Ella Tannehill, Class of 1884, Bloomfield, Davis county.
Nannie Duncan, Class of 1885, Harlan, Shelby county.
Thomas Guthrie, Class of 1885, Mechanicsville, Cedar county.
Charles Lemberg, Class of 1885, Cedar Rapids, Linn county.
Franklin Redington, Class of 1885, Dysart, Tama county.
At the close, June 10, of the school work for the period covered by this report:
|The number of pupils enrolled in the division for piano instruction was||117|
|In vocal culture--advance choir||46|
|Vocal culture--primary choir||61|
|Third harmony class||27|
|Second harmony class||14|
|First harmony class||13|
We have now in constant use twenty-three pianos, three cabinet organs, one pipe organ, and a liberal supply of the usual wind and string instruments. Eleven of the pianos are new, the others are in fair condition. Our facilities in this department are sufficient.
Music is taught as a science and as an art. We do not aim to send out skilled players merely, but musicians in every sense of the term. We lay no stress on the aesthetic side of the subject, its moral influence, or its force in intellectual development; but from the beginning to the end of a student's school life we impress him with the fact that the most practical, the most remunerative, and the most independent occupation for a blind person, is teaching music. All pupils possessing any talent whatever, are given instructions and practice for two or three years. Those making no reasonable progress in this time are not continued in the department. The more fortunate are continually reminded that it will be only by the hardest study and longest practice that they may even hope to equal the sighted musician. Harmony is a prominent study during the first years; it is one of the most prominent studies during the last years of the course. Piano practice is gradually increased from one, to two, four, and in the case of a few older pupils, six hours a day. The result of this policy is to send into the world a small number thoroughly qualified to teach, and at the same time to benefit—as far as nature intends them to be benefited—all those lacking health, energy, or ambition to succeed.
Progress in this department has been most pronounced. The line between diligence and indifference has been made plain to the dullest tyro. The records show, that of one hundred and twenty-two pupils engaged in this work, none have ranked excellent; twenty-three, good; sixty-two, fair; twenty-one, poor; two, very poor; and that five have been excused from further study.
The utility of brass band and orchestral performances is questioned by many. We feel that they are beneficial to us. The expense is not great, the time employed is brief. We look upon them as pleasant supplements to the more severe duties of the music course. They bring sunshine into the school, they awaken the dull and lethargic, and are not unfrequently followed by substantial good. One of our graduates is now leading a brass band, and receiving good wages for his services.
But the blind musician must depend upon the piano and organ, all other instruments in his case, should be secondary. He must master the former, but this need not prevent his acquiring skill in the use of the latter. The conscientious teacher will puncture the ambitious bubbles that float in the brain of the bright pupil. To encourage flute or violin or cornet practice at the expense of piano or organ is dangerous in the extreme.
Since the foundation of the Retta Bath musical prizes, six persons have successfully competed:
|Contest, June 4, 1883, Christine Lemberg, Cedar Rapids,
prize for best musical composition
|Contest, June 4, 1883, Charles lemberg, Cedar Rapids,
prize for best rendering of a selected composition for piano
|Contest, June 9, 1884, William Motz, Modale,
prize for best musical composition
|Contest, June 9, 1884, Franklin Redingtion, Dysart,
prize for best rendering of a musical composition for piano
|Contest, June 9, 1885, Frank Duncan, Harlan,
prize for best musical composition
|Contest, June 9, 1885, James Muirhead, Trear,
prize for best rendering of a musical composition for piano
The following persons have rendered very efficient service as piano tutors:
Nannie Duncan, Harlan, Shelby county.
Nellie Van Hoosen, Rock Creek, Mitchell county.
Nettie Connett, Bedford, Taylor county.
Laura Parks, Lyons, Clinton county.
J. I. T. Branaman, Traer, Tama county.
Frank Duncan, Harlan, Shelby county.
Charles Lemberg, Cedar Rapids, Linn county.
Thomas Guthrie, Mechanicsville, Cedar county.
Franklin Redington, Dysart, Tama county.
William Motz, Modale, Harrison county.
Frank White, Des Moines, Polk county.
Twenty-three persons received instruction in broom making, three of whom were discharged in Jane, 1884, and two, in June, 1885, as competent workmen. Three worthy men have received each, a machine, the Institution reserving the right to recall the gift at any time. No journeymen are employed and no efforts are made to supply more than the local demand for brooms. We aim to teach the trade only. When this is done, the pupils are thrown upon their own responsibility and the offices of their friends.
To the blind of Iowa, no trade seems more suitable than this. With push, energy and some executive ability, a blind man can secure the patronage in any village community. If he can find a sighted partner, an extensive business is a possibility. We do not see that the time for establishing an "industrial home" has yet been reached. Our cities are small, our country is covered with thrifty towns and settlements, our population is warm hearted and generous. Every student in this Institution, comes from a community where he is well known and where, if he is not esteemed, the fault lies with himself. When he has finished his course, he should return to that neighborhood and identify himself with its affairs. While it is true that such establishments are beneficial and even necessary in crowded cities, yet the interests of society require that the afflicted classes be regregated as much as possible.
In the general work division, fifty-four persons have been instructed in cane seating; thirteen in mattress making; fifty-two in netting; four in carpet weaving. These branches are taught more for an acquaintance with a variety of manual employment’s than for the pecuniary advantage that may result. Cane-seated chairs are rapidly disappearing; mattresses have little sale in country places; the profit from hammocks and fly-nets is small; carpet weaving, under favorable circumstances, will return but a meager living, and yet the benefits of such handicrafts are more than disciplinary. Scores of blind people, by the fruit of such labor, augment the family income, and find great pleasure in so doing.
In the fancy work division—which for convenience includes knitting—ninety-three girls have received instruction. The aim here, is to train for usefulness in the home circle. We have continued bead work which most institutions abandoned long ago, because it is the most attractive method of object teaching. The little folks love to make baskets, trays, vases, dishes, chairs, tables, etc., and they develop much in consequence.
In the sewing division, twenty-seven pupils have received instruction in machine and hand-work. Sewing, either by hand or machine, is filled with difficulties to the blind. The trouble lies in the fact that parents usually give no attention to the matter until the golden season for training the digital muscles is past.
There is absolutely nothing new in the way of industry. Every practical handicraft, I believe, was taught the blind, before this Institution was born. Wood turning, rope-making, boot and shoe-making, are among the most difficult trades carried on in some "adult institutions," especially in the old world. Those institutions, however, can never be self-supporting. We could easily introduce such trades here, but it would be folly to do so. Indeed, the feeling is widespread and growing that the best way to keep the adult blind is to thoroughly educate the youth.
CONDUCT AND DISCIPLINE.
With few exceptions the students have conducted themselves in a becoming manner. One young woman was suspended for disobedience in January, 1884, but was permitted to return in the fall. One young man was suspended for profanity and other bad conduct, a few days before the close of the term in June, 1885.
The discipline is mild but firm. Insubordination is never tolerated. Young men and young women understand that the advantages of the College are not open to those who are unworthy. Such pupils are not expelled, but simply required to go home for the remainder of the term and reflect on their evil ways. Pupils under eighteen years of age are treated as children. Their misbehavior is looked upon as the result of defective memory, and to correct this they are required to sit for a few hours quietly and alone, in office or library. The end in view is improvement, not punishment. The wrong-doer is to be taught that, as in the outer world, every violation of a social or civil law brings pain in its path, so in the school every act subversive of its harmony and well-being will as surely bring its attending pain. The Principal plays the part of an officer of justice who has no interest in the matter beyond the execution of his duty. The first year after the adoption of this policy was a very trying one. Half-grown boys looked with contempt upon such mild treatment. For awhile it seemed that something more rigorous would be necessary. Yet the rule was adhered to.
A marked improvement in conduct was observed the following term. When it became evident beyond a doubt that every improper act would meet its proper penalty, the mischievous began to realize that after all they were paying dearly for their fun. When a pupil has arrived at this state of mind the time for instilling higher moral impressions has come. During the last period the government of the school has demanded little attention.
A college for the blind should be an organism, each part germinate of life. It should be, as well, a piece of nicely adjusted machinery that the power may best be applied. It should combine the freedom and privileges of the home with the discipline and character of an institution of learning. It should be to the pupils family, home, society and school.
Successful work does not depend upon massive buildings, elegant appointments, or costly apparatus. With a Mark Hopkins in a log cabin no learner need sigh for the atmosphere of a university. The men and women who have the work in charge must possess common sense and honesty of purpose. Apathy on their part prompts apathy in those they teach. Their indifference to the habits and manners of the school will forge a chain of evils around every pupil's life. Let a teacher's character be tainted with hypocrisy, low motives, or humbug of any kind, and be assured the ferret-like instincts of the young people will soon find it out.
Daring nine months of the year these boys and girls are away from parental influence. Some have never felt that influence. The gravest responsibility, in consequence, rests upon those having charge. A perfunctionary discharge of duty will not answer. Through a long and laborious process the little unfortunates must be guided gently, patiently, and yet firmly, to habits of order and cleanliness, notions of propriety, and the claims of society. Not general orders and regulations, but the most minute attention to details can accomplish this.
One floor of the wing occupied by males is reserved for the nurse's room, the nursery, and bed rooms for the lads. The nursery boys— those not over ten years of age—are under the nurse's constant supervision; the lads under her almost constant care. Her room represents the mother's sitting room at home. She is to exercise a beneficent influence over all the boys and young men. She is to look after their clothing, read their letters, tend them in sickness, counsel them in trouble, and as far as possible take the mother's place. The lads—those between the ages of ten and fourteen years—go with her at a given signal, before and after every meal, to their washroom; wash their hands and faces, clean their teeth, brush their clothes, blacken their shoes, comb their hair—duties, I am sorry to say, viewed by the average boy with great disgust. The same lads at the dining table find another officer, whose business for the time being is to instruct them in table manners. And so the oversight continues until, in school parlance, the pupil passes to a "higher dining table," and "goes up stairs in the wing."
The girls' nurse bears a like relation to the female members of the household. Adjoining her room is a suit of rooms, the home of all little girls under twelve years of age. They are taught to sweep, to make beds, to take care of their clothing, to eat properly at table; and when age and experience justify are required to take their places as responsible factors in the school economy. If they do not attain to some knowledge of what Emerson calls "the finest of fine arts," then the capacity to receive it is not in them.
With so many people constitutionally weak, a certain amount of sickness must be expected and provided for. Many of these pupils are seldom free from pain. Three cases of diphtheria occurred, but soon recovered. We have for the invalid no hospital, but sick rooms as comfortable, home-like and cheerful as we oan make them. The general health of the Institution has been good.
The following newspapers have been sent to the College, gratuitously, during the whole or part of the last two years. We tender our thanks to the proprietors, with the hope that they will continue to remember us:
Vinton Eagle, Vinton Observer, Vinton Herald, State Press of Iowa City, Excelsior of Maquoketa, Republican of Marengo, Goodson Gazette, Mitchell County News, Belle Plaine Independent, Iowa South West, Cedar Rapids Times, Missouri Valley Times, Deoorah Journal, Mutes' Companion, Eleotric Light of Marshalltown, Tipton Advertiser, Harlan Hub.
I would also express to the Trustees my high sense of the kindness, support and courtesy which they have always shown toward me. I have the honor to be,
Your obedient servant,
Thomas F. McCune.