Image of the first words of the act creating the school along with early pics of buildings




Franz Joseph Dohmen caricature


(From Google Books - Success Library, Volume 8):

In 1893, when eighteen years of age, a blind boy of German parentage was admitted as a freshman at the University of Texas, readily passing examinations. His delicate physique forbade him to do full work while in the university, and, therefore, his university course covered a period of five years. In that time he completed courses in English, History, German, French, Mathematics, Physics, Political science, Philosophy, and Latin. “The record books of the university,” said the Austin “Statesman,” “show that young Dohmen ranks clearly above any of his classmates in a graduating class of more than one hundred students from all departments.”

Dr. George Bruce Halstead, head professor of mathematics in the University of Texas, said of him: “Mr. Dohmen has not only finished the regular course in Mathematics, including differential and integral calculus and the theory of complex variables, but, as a postgraduate in Mathematics, he has taken projective geometry, and is now finishing an extended course in non-Euclidean geometry, being the only blind person that ever studied this unusual subject. His thinking in Mathematics is remarkably vigorous.” Yet he has been blind since his sixth year. His undergraduate course, being largely prescribed, rendered specialization impossible for the time being, in any other department than Mathematics. Yet he is greatly interested in Philosophy and Political Science.

Mr. Dohmen's aptitude in learning languages is hardly less than his power of mastering abstruse mathematical demonstrations. He writes and speaks English and German, reads French, and is a thorough Latin scholar. He held a membership in the university in the Chi Phi fraternity. He attended student banquets, and got as much fun out of their jollifications as the most light hearted. He was fond of the theater, and was frequently seen there. His summer vacations were spent largely in traveling. His craving for order and regularity was illustrated even in his care of his room. Every book in his bookcase and every article of furniture in his room had a place. Franz Dohmen was more amazed than anyone else at the high standing he took.


The boy was placed, at an early age, in the State Institute for the Blind. There his naturally quick and bright intellect found opportunity for rapid expansion. Opportunity was also afforded for the cultivation of his musical taste. He became a good performer on the piano, pipe organ, and violoncello. His versatility is illustrated by his mastery and practice of all the systems of writing for the blind. He does rapid reading and writing in the New York system, Braille system, the Moon system, and the modified Braille system. He also reads the few desirable books obtainable written in the raised letter system; but in the realm of thought in which his mind is usually engaged, there are few books printed for the blind.

His mother copies many books for him with a machine which writes the Braille system. In taking notes on lectures, he uses a shorthand system of his own invention. This is a phonetic system, and he shortens or lengthens it, according to the rapidity with which he desires to write. All his lecture notes or essays he writes for himself on an ordinary typewriter, without the use of raised letters. He works very rapidly, with rare mistakes.

In this work he requires the assistance of no one, except when he is preparing French essays or exercises; then, at his direction some one looks over the work and places the accents wherever indicated. In preparing a lesson in mathematics, his memory is nothing less than wonderful. As a rule he studies with one of his classmates. When a complicated figure is under consideration, his companion explains its general form, and then takes Mr. Dohmen's hand, and, holding his index finger, traces out the different lines of the figure and names the letters at the extremities and intersections of the lines. Then he reads aloud the description of the figure, or, the demonstration that is required of the student, and they together form the equations and propositions necessary for the solution of the problem. Should a mistake occur in the statement of any proposition, no one is quicker to observe it than Mr. Dohmen. He is equally alert in perceiving any error in at attributing the wrong letters to any line involved in a figure. Mr. Dohmen has written and published an article on “Facial Perception,” as it is termed, but which he entitles “Aural Perception.”

In passing a post, a tree, or a house, he is as cognizant of the fact as a person who can see. He says, when he passes a large tree, it fairly obtrudes itself upon him. After his graduation, with the degree of Bachelor of Letters, Mr. Dohmen and his mother sailed immediately for Germany, where he was to enter for his doctorate some one of the great German universities, intending to devote his time to mathematics, political science, and philosophy. He expects eventually to return to Texas and engage in teaching his favorite studies.

Those who know Mr. Dohmen best are confident in predicting that a. wide field of work and usefulness awaits him in the future.. Shut away from the sights of the world, his clear, strong, and vigorous mind, with its philosophical bent, will evolve conceptions and father ideas that will be almost sure to make him famous. In all probability, he will thus become a great writer. As a teacher, his remarkable power of describing accurately what he feels and knows already renders him an assured success in his profession