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Forty-First Annual Report Of The Trustees Of The Perkins Institution And Massachusetts Asylum For The Blind

Creator: Samuel Gridley Howe (author)
Date: 1873
Source: Perkins School for the Blind


Introduction

Samuel Gridley Howe, long-time superintendent of the Perkins Institution and Massachusetts Asylum for the Blind, saw one of his primary tasks as producing graduates who were not only well-trained academically and vocationally but also physically healthy. He enforced physical training and activity on all students, often over parentsí objections.


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EXTRACTS FROM REPORT OF THE DIRECTOR The number of blind persons immediately connected with the establishment at the close of the last year was 163. There have entered since, 41; 31 have been discharged; so that the present number is 173. Of these, 157 are in the school department proper, and 16 in the work department. The first class includes 157 boys and girls; the second 16 men and women.

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The general health has been good. No epidemic and no mortal disease have occurred. Most of those discharged bid fair to do well. Eight have been carefully trained in vocal and instrumental music and are earning their own livelihood.

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Mention is made in the report of the trustees of the successful establishment in London, England, of a high school for the blind by Mr. F. J. Campbell, who, during eleven years, was our principal teacher of music, and my general assistant. He is entirely blind, and besides the valuable services which he rendered as teacher of music, he was of great use to the blind, as a living example of how much can be done by courage, energy and industry to compensate for the lack of sight.

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When he communicated to me his plan for opening in England a high school for the blind, organized according to our American ideas of what such a school should be, rather than upon the model of the existing British schools, and asked my consent to his taking some of our most esteemed teachers to assist him, I could not refuse, because, beside my desire to aid him personally, I had a strong desire to see our system more widely diffused, and our ideas tested in a new field. I knew that Mr. Campbell would be more likely to succeed, and his establishment to take a high stand, with the assistance of trained teachers, of high moral character, than with such as he might pick up abroad.

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Of course it gave to me, personally, much regret, and caused sorrow to all the inmates of the household, to part with such an assistant as Mr. Joel W. Smith, (a man of rare virtues, beloved and respected by all who know him; and to part with such teachers as the Misses Faulkner, Green and Howes; nevertheless, the sacrifice was cheerfully made in view of the great good which might result therefrom to the cause of the education of the blind.

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If the enterprise succeeds, and the blind of Great Britain are benefited thereby, all those engaged in it will have the gratification of helping to pay back, in a small degree, the debt of obligation to the mother country for manifold services rendered by her to the cause of human beneficence.

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Besides the loss of those valued teachers, the institution has lost the services of Mr. Daniel L. Bradford, who has served it faithfully in various capacities during more than thirty continuous years. But his impaired health prevented him from longer performing the active and trying duties of his place.

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He has been a valuable assistant to me, and a useful officer of the institution. A mechanic of the old school, his knowledge of various mechanical branches was very useful in the alterations and improvements of the premises, and in the printing department.

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During several years he has been steward. His watchfulness, industry and frugality have been felt in all the material interests of the establishment; and his kindness of heart has been more valuable still, because such qualities in a permanent officer pass into and help to form the character of the establishment. This institution has been Mr. Bradford's home, and the chief object of his thoughts and affections during the best years of his life. Such men as he build better than they know; and the good influences of his life and conversation will be felt in this institution long after his old familiar footstep and voice shall cease to be heard within its walls.

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The most interesting event of the year was the Convention of Superintendents and Teachers of Institutions for the blind, held at this Institution.

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Twenty establishments were represented by fifty-five superintendents and teachers.

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It lasted three days, and called forth some interesting discussions of subjects connected with the education of the blind, and some new thoughts.

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The presence of representatives from establishments of twenty States, some of which receive beneficiaries from adjoining States, show the general interest which is felt in the education of the blind, by the people of the United States; and the readiness of legislatures and people to pay liberally for promoting it; and of the rapid increase of the means of obtaining it. There was a general concurrence of opinion upon several important matters, although no vote was deemed necessary. Such as, that mental and instructive culture should underlie and form an important part of the course of education and training for all the blind, even those destined to mechanical pursuits. That the methods and processes of instruction in schools, and the various means used in education, should conform as nearly as possible to the most approved ones used with ordinary children and youth.

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