« ПредишнаНапред »
part of the grounds were broken up and fenced, the rubbish removed, sewers and walks, and roads were constructed. A temporary woodhouse and stable were built, a large number of trees were transplanted, and a cistern and well provided.
The interests of the institution require the immediate erection of a building which shall combine the purposes of work-shops, gymnasium, and vegetable cellar: also, the construction of an area wall around the main building to prevent dampness in the basement rooms, and to prevent the main walls from injury. The President of the Board has authorized the recommendation that one thousand dollars be appropriated for the construction of the area wall; and the further sum of four thousand dollars be appropriated for the erection of workshops. Said improvements to be made under the direction of the Board of Trustess.
It is a source of great satisfaction, as well as a cause for devout gratitude to God that the health of the inmates has been almost uninterrupted during the past two years. Only three or four cases of severe sickness have occurred; and those, by the faithful watchcare of the Matron, and the promptness and skill of the Physician, soon yielded to treatment. The almost uniform health of the pupils, is due in part to the healthful location, to the spacious halls and sleeping apartments, to a simple and wholesome diet; but especially to the active exercise of body and mind, required of all, and the cheerful associations of Institution life, by which their morbid tendencies have been counteracted. No physician has been regularly employed, but the preferences of the sick have been consulted. Drs. Boyd and Clingan have generally been called, and have been prompt and successful.
The blind are capable of about the same happiness as the seeing; yet it is a constant source of wonder to observers that the blind should be so cheerful. The merriment, the joyous emotion, the cheerful song, and the ringing laugh, heard in the halls and upon the play-grounds in times of recreation, seem to visitors incompatible with blindness. It is true the blind generally enjoy them
selves better in the Institution than in any other place. And the great secret of their happiness is that they are employed. Activity removes that mental, moral and corporeal rubbish which too often accumulates in the seclusion of home. And life, therefore, ceases to be a "stagnant pool" and becomes as the "living water," clear, pure and joyous.
In the increased tenacity of the memory, in the more exquisite sense of touch, in the quickness of hearing, and delicacy of smell consequent upon blindness, there is a partial compensation for the misfortune. The perceptives are so refined that some persons entirely destitute of the organs of sight, upon stepping into a room for the first time, will tell at once about the size of the room and whether it is occupied. They will not walk against an animate or inanimate object of the size and height of a man, unless it be in times when there is confusion of sounds. In the city they will readily distinguish the open spaces from the buildings. And in the varied landscape, they will indicate the direction of the hills and forests, from that of the valley or lake. The blind themselves may not be able to give a satisfactory explanation, yet they will doubtless testify that not having eyes they "see" these things in their own peculiar way. The necessary introversion of the mind upon itself is in many respects favorable to mental culture. They tell us that Democritus put his own eyes out in order to make himself a better philosopher. And that Malbranch in order to put his mind to its utmost energies was accustomed to close the window shutters of his study and contemplate in darkness. The blind have the windows always closed and therefore easily concentrate their mental energies.
The same teachers have continued since the opening of the school at Vinton. And the success which has attended their efforts is a pleasing evidence of their faithfulness and efficiency. The recent exhibition in your Legislative Hall of the attainments made by many of the pupils, and your personal examination of them in the various branches of study enables you to judge not only of the capacity and industry of the scholars, but also of the fidelity and
zeal of Trustees and Teachers. The method of government has been, first, to create a high sense of duty, propriety, integrity, and virtue; and then to appeal to that sense as a motive to proper conduct. The prevailing spirit among the pupils has been that of subordination and gratitude to teachers, and of "peace and good-will" towards each other. To the influence and example of the older pupils, is due especially the pleasing state of harmony and discipline which characterizes the school. Eugene Ketcham, Margaret Marrin and Josephine Porter, pupils in the school, have rendered important assistance in teaching.
The principal studies pursued are as follows:
Orthography and Definitions.
Writing with grooved board and pencil.
Writing with Braille's Apparatus.
Natural Theology, (Paley's).
Mental and Moral Philosophy.
The facility with which the blind learn to write by means of a grooved board and pencil is remarkable. Many write legible letters to their friends in this way. The deficiency of this method is in the fact that the blind cannot read what they write.
Braille's method of writing introduced into this school by the President of the Board of Trustees, Hon. E. Sells, about one year since obviates the difficulty of the former method, and enables the blind to communicate with each other by writing without the aid
of the seeing. By this method they can record their own composition, facts, dates, music &c., and then refer to, and read the same at pleasure. The special design in the introduction of Braille's method was to assist the pupils in learning orthography, and in this it was effectual.
The services of Prof. Price, the accomplished teacher in this department, have been invaluable. From two to three hours each day are devoted to music.
The Band, composed of fifteen performers, execute with surprising skill the compositions of their teacher,—our national airs, and a number of overtures and other compositions of the masters in music.
The Chorus, consisting of about forty persons, sing some of the finest sacred and secular choruses with thrilling effect. The pupils are thoroughly trained in the theory, and composition of music. Some of them compose music with facility, and bid fair to make competent teachers. Miss Porter, a pupil, teaches a class in vocal music.
The work department for males has been carried on under very great discouragements for want of work shops and materials. A room in the main building has been fitted up as a temporary shop, but it is not competent to accommodate one half of the pupils in handicraft. The preference has been given to those pupils to whom a trade seemed most important. Mr. John Cisna, the teacher in handicraft has resolutely persevered against all inconveniences and a number have learned to make excellent brooms, brushes and door mats.
In the industrial department for females, under the direction of the matron, assisted by Miss Marrin, a pupil, great proficiency has been attained. By patient industry the pupils have acquired a skill in sewing, knitting, and the manufacture of bead work, which commands the approbation of the trustees and teachers.
At the suggestion of the matron, the blind girls made a fine collection of fancy worsted and bead work, which, as personal donations for the benefits of our soldiers, were sent to the North-West
ern Sanitary Fair, held at Chicago, in October last. The contribution elicited the following notice from the Chicago Journal:
"And here is something that attracts great attention from everybody, and excites the admiration of old and young. It is a beautiful display of bead and worsted work, wrought by the wonderfully ingenious and delicate fingers of the girls of the blind institution at Vinton, Iowa. Patiently they have toiled in their noble and generous work, and have produced from their long, dark night a display of articles as rich and beautiful as any surrounding them, which will be doubly prized by their purchasers as a donation to a worthy cause from hearts that feel, though they cannot see. God bless the loyal blind girls."
Quarterly reports from the industrial departments are made to the Board of Trustees, and the proceeds therefrom are paid to the Treasurer.
The following is a recapitulation of the disbursements made under the direction of the present Board of Trustees, for the years 1862 and 1863:
Paid for salaries of officers and teachers.