Report of Superintendent, for the year ending October 31, 1898 . [Institute for Deaf, Dumb and Blind Colored Youths – 11th Annual Report.] This was the first year of this superintendent who wound up removing the curriculum of regular courses such as math, science, English and literature. The pupils simply learned a skill that would allow them to be employed after graduation.
Shoemaking is one of the trades taught. The deaf boys are afforded the opportunity of learning it under a competent workman; who during the past year succeeded in supplying all the students with shoes – 94 pairs having been made during the year. The deaf girls are taught the rudiments of plain sewing, and at present they are being taught drafting, etc...
We cultivate thirty acres in agriculture and horticulture; on the ground that previously grew nothing but Johnson grass, we raised about two hundred and fifty bushels of corn and all the hay we need – very best -- oats, millet and sugar cane. Much of this work is done by the deaf boys. We also raised all the vegetables we needed last spring.
One pair of horses and one pair of mules owned by the Institution are all in fine condition. Twenty-five head of Jersey cattle that give plenty of milk. We have twenty-five head of Berkshire hogs that are also in good condition. We have one hack, one carriage, one wagon and one buggy, all of which are in good condition.
A splendid Sabbath school is maintained throughout the school session, all the teachers instructing classes every Sunday morning. Our preaching services are conducted by different ministries who are invited in at times. Every Sunday night the students hold prayer meetings under the supervision of the teachers.
The students in each department – the deaf and the blind – conduct a literary society, which meets every Friday night; that in the blind department is styled the “Philosophian Society,” while that in the deaf is styled the “Silenta Society.” Each society is governed by a constitution of the students’ own framing, and all the officers are selected from among their own members. The exercises, which are public, consist, in the Philosophian Society, of essays, recitations, orations, debates, music, quotations, and the query box; in the Silenta Society, of recitations, debates, story-telling, and ‘mute’ songs. The public are always welcomed to these exercises, and all who come enjoy them.
The library is small, but well-selected. Additions will be made to the number of volumes now on hand as fast as circumstances will permit. This is rendered possible by setting apart a room in the building now in course of erection in which to house the books. The books for the blind are all in the New York point, or in the line letter system, and are a source of constant delight, especially to the blind, who are insatiable and omnivorous readers.
First – In view of the uncomfortably unsafe and menacing condition of the two-story and one-story frames hereinbefore alluded to, I would respectfully call your attention, as well as that of the Board of Directors, to this particular unfortunate condition, and would recommend, urge and pray that you recommend to the Legislature the necessity of making an appropriation of ten thousand dollars, with which to erect a building to be used for a mess hall and additional dormitories.
Second – Since this is an eleemosynary institution – its prime object being to care for the unfortunates, and since these unfortunates find it next to impracticable to make a decent livelihood (after they leave here) in the various communities from which they come, I would respectfully recommend that a small broom factory (not expensive to the State) be put in. This could afford employment for the blind. A step in this direction would, I take it, be the beginning of a benevolence far-reaching.
In conclusion, I beg to express my most sincere thanks to the members of the Board for their timely advice; for while I have found them very strict as officers, I have always found them very kind, fair and just in all of their dealings.
I shall always feel very grateful to them for kindnesses shown me in giving me much needed and timely suggestions, which I have found to be of great value to me in running the Institute for the past two years.
I cannot close this report without expressing my sincere gratitude for the uniform courtesy and kindness shown me by your Excellency since my connection with the Institution, and the interest manifested at all times for the welfare of the colored people of the State.
S J Jenkins, Superintendent.