Third Biennial Report


Report of the Trustees                         Report of the Superintendent









GEO. W. McCLEARY, Secretary
J. WARREN CLARK, Chairman, Finance Committee


His Excellency, JAMES W. GRIMES, Governor.
Hon. ELLIJAH SELLS, Secretary of State
Hon. MATURIN L. FISHER, Superintendent, Public Instruction
SAMUEL BACON, Principal Instructor.


Mr. SAMUEL BACON, Principal
Mrs. SARAH K. BACON, Matron
Miss, M. C. CHRISTY, Assistant Matron
Mr. P. J. WHIPPLE, Professor of Music
Mr. JOHN M. BIGGER, Professor of Mechanics





The Honorable of the General Assembly of the State of Iowa:
     Gentlemen:-----The seventh section of an act of the General Assembly of the State of Iowa, approved Jan. 22, 1855, entitled, “an act to amend an act entitled “an act to establish an Asylum for the Blind,” requires the Board of Trustees to make a biennial report of the condition of the Institution to the General Assembly. Since our last report, made in December, 1856, the sessions of the General Assembly have been changed, and as no session will probably be held next year, we demonstrate our duty to submit our report at the present session.

     The Institution for the Instruction of the Blind of Iowa, established in Keokuk, in 1852, by Samuel Bacon, the present Superintendent, and adopted by the State, and removed to and established in this city on the 3d day of February, 1853, free to all the blind in the state, and supported at the expense of the State, commenced under favorable auspices; and although the attendance of pupils has not been as full as anticipated, nevertheless much good has been done for the benefit of those in attendance, who have made great progress in the various branches taught in the Institution.

     For the branches of study pursued in the Institution, and trades taught, we refer to the annexed report of Samuel Bacon, Superintendent, as also much valuable information in regard to the condition of the Institution, and suggestions for the benefit thereof. We also annex a list of pupils admitted to the Institution, containing the name, residence, age, sex, place of nativity, and also the cause of blindness of each pupil; and also the date of the decease or discharge of those who have ceased to be inmates thereof.

     It will be observed that there has been no increase of pupils since our last report, although two new pupils have been admitted during the year. This is owing to various causes, the greatest of which is the relocation of blind children to leave their homes and friends, to dwell among strangers, to attend an institution which they know but little about, and the benefits of which they do not understand or appreciate. Another reason, perhaps, is the hardness of the times and scarcity of money; many parents of blind children being unable to clothe them suitably, or to pay their fare to the Institution. One of the pupils has died since our last report. We have a list of some thirty pupils who are said to be desirous of attending the Institution, and it is to be hoped that most of them will be in attendance the ensuing term. There is ample room in the Institution to accommodate that number in addition to those in attendance. And we desire to call the attention of members of the General Assembly to this subject, and hope that each member will visit the blind in his county or district, and explain the objects and benefits of the Institution, and exert his influence to induce them to attend and secure to themselves an education, both literary and mechanical, which will qualify to become useful citizens, and enable them to support themselves, instead of loitering about home, and only in darkness, but in ignorance, unable to pursue any useful pursuit, a burden to their friends, or the community in which they reside.

     We consider the annual appropriation made by the act of the 22d of January, 1855, as amply sufficient to defray the expenses of the Institution, until the General Assembly shall see fit to make a permanent location, and provide for the erection of suitable building for its use, which we beg leave to recommend to the favorable consideration of the Legislature, believing that a sum sufficient for that purpose could not be appropriated for a better purpose; and in view of the fact that the State University has been permanently located by the Constitution, whether it would not conduce to the best interests of the Institution to fix it permanently in the immediate vicinity of the University, that the advantages to be derived from the same, and a free access to its Library, might be enjoyed by the Institution for the Instruction of the Blind.

     In conclusion we would beg leave respectfully to recommend the Institution to the favorable consideration of the General Assembly, and to express our entire confidence in the capacity and fidelity of the officers and teachers in the Institution, and our satisfaction with the manner in which they have discharge their duties in their respective stations.      All of which is respectfully submitted.

By order of the Board of Trustees.


ATTEST: GEO. W. McCLEARY, Secretary of the Board

Receipts and Disbursements of the Institution since date of last report,
to-wit, from November 30, 1856, to January 1, 1858.

Balance in the treasury November 30, 1856, as shown by our last report,             $1,632.69
Auditors warrants since received,             6,042.00
Total receipts,             $7,674.69
For current expenses,         $2,535.75  
For salaries of teachers,         1,981.25  
For rent,         $600.00  
          $5,117.00 5,117.00
Balance in the treasury,          $2,557.69





January 2, 1858.

  To the Board of Trustees of the Iowa Institution for the Education of the Blind:

     Gentlemen: -- Owing to the adoption of the new Constitution, it becomes my duty to make this, the Third Biennial Report, a year sooner than formerly. The year just past is one of less prosperity to the Institution than any since its commencement, which was in the month of August, 1852, in the city of Keokuk, with three pupils, two of whom have since died -- one, John Stafford, during the past vacation, at home.

     The Institution was opened here, under the patronage of the State, the 4th of April, 1853, since which there have been thirty-two admissions. Accompanying this you will find their names; those that have died, or have signified their intention not to return are appropriately marked.

     For the support of this Institution, nothing more is needed; it is believed that the present law will afford sufficient support for the school for any number of pupils, with the aid of suitable buildings. To this subject the attention of the Legislature has been so often invited to no purpose, that I despair of ever seeing the Institution any more conveniently situated than at present. But if the present Legislature should be more disposed to permanently locate the Institution, and make an appropriation for a building at some other place than Iowa City, it would be useless to remove the school until the building should be completed. I would therefore suggest the propriety of leasing and fitting up a building for a term of years, where we can have more yard room, in order that the pupils may have more exercise in the open air.

     The Institution is free to all the blind of Iowa, of suitable age and capacity to receive instruction. Nothing is expected of them or their friends, except to defray their traveling expenses to and from the Institution, and furnish them with suitable clothing. The term for instruction commences the first Monday in September of each year, and closes the third Saturday in June. The pupils are expected to spend their vacations at home with their friends.

     The course of instruction is thorough, and as extensive as the age of the Institution will admit.

     There are three Departments, Academical, Musical, and Industrial, each of which has its allotted portion of time. There is ample time left for recreation. The pupils rise at half-past five, breakfast at seven, dine at half-past twelve, take tea at half-past five, retire at nine. School commences at six in the morning, and from that until half-past twelve, three hours are devoted to literary branches and two to music. Afternoon, three hours to labor; one hour in the evening is devoted to reading some useful book. The Academical course at present embraces Geography, Reading raised print, Writing, Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric, Arithmetic, Algebra and Geometry. Music embraces the theory and composition, as well as vocal and instrumental music. In the Industrial Department, the females are employed in sewing, plain and fancy knitting, and bead work. The males are employed in broom making.

     In addition to the above courses, the news of the day is read to the pupils from the various papers sent to the Institution, gratis, for which the editors have our thanks.

     The discipline is mild but firm, free from corporeal punishment, keeping the improvement of the pupil constantly in view.

     We know of no reason why the discipline of the blind should differ a particle from that of the seeing, on the course of study. The manner of conveying that instruction is necessarily different for the want of suitable apparatus; the method pursued is oral, which makes it more thorough and consequently better, but more laborious for the teacher. No sectarian views are taught, but a due reverence and respect for the Supreme Being is inculcated at all times in the Institution. If the weather will permit, all the pupils are expected to attend church on the Lord’s Day.

     Whenever any other test than that of suitableness is applied in the selection of officers for the Institution, it might as well be closed for all the benefit it will be to the blind, who are naturally suspicious and reflective; by brooding over their wrongs, they will become worse instead of better.

     Whether it will be my lot to preside over this Institution much longer is a question of time. I have labored long and hard and am weary. It has been the height of my ambition to be at the head of a well-ordered Institution, in a suitable building. But this I despair of ever seeing in Iowa, where there is so much squabbling about localities as to prevent proper legislation, and where from the recent settlement of the inhabitants, and their little knowledge of one another, it is so difficult to obtain statistics so as to increase the school as fast as desirable.

     In conclusion, gentlemen, permit me to express the hope that you may remain in Board so long as I am Principal.




    Newspapers Furnished The Institution Gratis.

    Iowa Weekly Republican.
    Maquoketa Excelsior.
    Express and Herald.
    National Reporter and Crescent.
    Cedar Valley Times.
    Voice of Iowa.
    Christian Evangelist.

    List of Blind in the State
    who have not been admitted
    but who are desirous of becoming pupils.

    George Clemmer,            Monticello,            Jones County
    A. C. Lewis,            Habe,            Jones County
    Jacob Grimer,            Soap Creek,            Davis County
    Miss Tays,                         Davis County
    Sarah E. Dackens,            Troy,            Davis County
    Fletcher Troxell,            Hillsville,            Appanoose County
    Maria Troxell,            Hillsville,            Appanoose County
    Robert Troxell,            Hillsville,            Appanoose County
    W. Young,                         Decatur County
    Mary E. McConneghey,                         Marion County
    Amelia E. Cox,                         Fremont County
    Martha Smith,                         Clayton County
    Jonathan Smith,                         Clayton County
    Daughter of Barney Petticord,                         Clayton County
    Jane Wilson,                         Poweshiek County
    Chauncey Norton,                         Clinton County
    George Boing,                         Clinton County
    J. Brummet,                         Henry County
    Louisa Chinaworth,                         Van Buren County
    Isaac Heazel,            Amboy,            Washington County
    Isaiah Elting,            Washington,            Bremer County
    Abner Fish,            Adel,            Dallas County
    ------ Slaughter,            Adel,            Dallas County
    Robert Moodie,            West Point,            Lee County
    Girl named Horton,                         Polk County