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




The board reports hail from the operation and the administration of TSBVI - You will find how many children had what diseases that brought them to our school along with notes on programs such as our gardens and who came and went as teachers and administrators.  These reports were culled from articles at the Texas State Historical Archives, located in downtown Austin. Diane Nousanen, a previous librarian for the school, compiled the information for us.


1800s - We were located at the edge of I-35 (East Street) and 19th Street in Austin - Out of town.

Current Location - Out of Town - before 45th Street was built (just a dirt road)

“State Dept. of Ed. Has recognized our high school as a high school of the first class, and that it is affiliated with the State University with 11-1/2 credits.”

Lists teachers and the subjects they taught. High school teachers taught 8th grade. Grades 5,6,7 taught departmentally.

9 music teachers. Added organ pedals to piano for practice purposes.

Mr. HA Klotz, in addition to teaching piano, runs stereo graph and prints music and books in New York point. Books printed include Medieval and Modern History, English History, US History, Texas History, Ninth Grade History, American History Spanish Composition, Spanish Stories, All Spanish Method, School Hymn Books, Ten Commandments, Three Christmas Carols, Letters to Alumni. –multiple vols. and copies.

“The plates for this printing, which were sheets of brass until the European war made brass too expensive and are now zinc, are carefully preserved for additional printing as our needs may demand.”

5 industrial dept. teachers. Several pupils learned telegraphy and hold good positions. Dictaphone was added to our equipment, “and it has proved to be very successful.” –for transcribing to typewriter.

Physical training emphasized, with 2 specially trained teachers.

“The library is a most important factor in our school. This is the distributing center of all books for general and supplemental reading in our school. The books are carefully catalogued and card indexed. A most important extension of our educational work to the adult blind of the State is accomplished by loaning them books from our library.

These books are sent postage free to worthy applicants. Our librarian is Miss Julia Johnson, one of our students whose eyesight has been practically restored.” Librarian made $50 per month.

Again exhibited at the Texas Cotton Palace. Featured daily demonstrations by 4 pupils of the literary work, piano tuning, chair caning, sewing, etc., “and an exhibition of our physical training in the Coliseum by eighty pupils were a wonderful surprise and revelation to the thousands in attendance.”

“All pupils are required to take at least three literary subjects, one or more kinds of industrial work, and every one, unless excused by the attendant physician, must take physical training, while those only who show evidence of musical talent are permitted to take music.”

Enrollment, 1915: 128 boys, 113 girls, total 241

1916: 132 boys, 109 girls, 241 total.

“The people are beginning to understand that this is not an asylum, but that it is the free school for the children of Texas who on account of blindness or partial blindness cannot attend the public schools.” 34th legislature changed name fro “The Blind Institute” to “The Texas School for the Blind.” “It is therefore proper and right to classify our school among the educational institutions of the State, and to cease classifying it with the so-called eleemosynary institutions.”

6-7 teachers reside in the buildings and receive extra compensation of board and laundry.

“Words are inadequate to express the grateful appreciation of the consideration and generosity manifested toward our school by yourself and the Thirty-fourth Legislature by appropriating $300,000 for new buildings, and by the citizens of Austin for the donation of a new site of seventy-three and a fraction acres. It is an inspiration and a command for better, more energetic work on the part of the officers, teachers, employees, and pupils, in order to make the Texas School for the Blind the best in the United States. With the completion of the buildings now under construction and with such additional buildings and equipment as the Thirty-fifth Legislature will in their wisdom supplement, history will record no nobler achievement to the honor of your administration.”

“This report would be incomplete without an earnest expression of gratitude to Senator T.H. McGregor, who took the initiative and championed this constructive piece of legislation, as well as to Senator Carlos Bee for his beautiful and masterful speech in its behalf.”

--EE Bramlette

foldout of accounts by month.

Supt. EE Bramlette

Staff included 3 nurses for girls, “Librarian and Monitress”, matrons, house mothers, engineer and electrician. One teacher for each grade. One teacher for English, history, science, principal taught math. In music one teacher each for pipe organ/piano/harmony, piano/mandolin/guitar, orchestral instruments, 2 each for piano, piano/orchestral instruments, piano tuning and repair, voice and chorus, assistant piano. In industrial dept. sewing/basketry, beadwork/crochet/knitting, 2 each for brooms/caning/mattresses. One teacher for typewriting, one each for physical training. Plus night watchman, 5 cooks, 7 laundresses, 4 dining room girls, 4 chambermaids, 3 seamstresses, 1 yardman, 1 hostler, 1 janitor.

Hygiene, manners and morals are also taught. “…Spanish and German should be added to our course on account of the large population of those nationalities in Texas.”

“The teachers have proved to themselves to be kind, patient and efficient in the discharge of their duties. The Texas School for the Blind may justly claim rank among the first and best in the United States in the matter of practical and cultural courses of study, of the thoroughness and efficiency of instruction and discipline, and of the satisfactoriness of results.”

“The kindergarten and first grade are the most important part of our school work.” It includes “also children from twelve to sixteen years of age, who have never before been to school and are more or less feeble-minded from birth or else are examples of arrested mental development caused from inactivity and total lack of early training. These latter are very difficult to teach, for there is not foundation to build upon and so little to appeal too—their vegetative and dormant minds must be awakened, and the first glimmering spark of intellect must be carefully and patiently watched for and nourished. Wonderful results have been accomplished sometimes with the most unpromising pupils. The teacher uses many devices and apparatus, including the Montessori equipment.”

“it is not true that blind persons have more ability for music than the seeing. We are willing for all to try…. Many of our graduates in Texas and in other States are making a livelihood as pianists, organists, music teachers, and tuners.”

Industrial dept. includes broom making, mattress making, chair caning, hammock netting, machine and hand sewing, cutting and fitting, raffia and beadwork, crocheting, knitting, typewriting, and telegraphy.  “Thanks to the great skill of our oculist, … many of our pupils partially recover their sight…. These can learn telegraphy and typewriting while their eyes are being saved to them and can thereafter become efficient, self-supporting office assistants.” 5 “of our boys at the present writing are studying with great success, to the surprise and wonder of their professors, at the University of Texas, and two others are doing equally fine work at Baylor University.”

Exhibition at the Conference of Charities and Correction at Waco April 16-17 some of our industrial work, and had two first-grade pupils demonstrate literary instruction. Created greatest interest among delegates and public school children. “Great good could be done by our making an annual exhibit at the Dallas State Fair and at the Waco Texas Cotton Palace.”

“Physical training department is under the direction of two skillful instructors, developing weaklings into strong and active and self-reliant boys and girls, and restoring and preserving the physical strength and health of the entire student body.”

Enrollment: 102 boys, 122 girls= 224. Of this 36 boys and 63 girls total 99, were indigent and were furnished with clothing and transportation. 52 boys and 57 girls, total 109 totally blind; 50 boys and 65 girls, total 115, could not see well enough to attend public schools. Sent home iwht good vision 1 boy and 4 girls.

2 graduated, 4 rcvd certificates of proficiency.

Graduation program included.

Health generally good. One boy arrived with typhoid fever in 2nd week of disease; recovered after 6-7 weeks of “careful nursing and treatment.” 32 cases of mumps among the girls and 12 cases among the boys. One boy had chickenpox. One girl showed symptoms of tuberculosis and was kept in the hospital from Jan. until May when she was sent home.

Occulist operations: needling, iridectomy, enucleation, eye removed, eye tattooed, lid operation, squint. Other operations: tonsils (4), adenosis (2), cyst removed from neck (1).

School was in session 190 days. 3 weeks’ quarantine for meningitis scare. Some teachers worked; others who couldn’t be separate from their families stayed away.

Long enumeration of items made from mattresses to thread purses.

“…great lack of information throughout the State in regard to the character and purpose of our institution. [not an asylum]. This is another argument for a field officer.”

“Moreover, the strongest argument might be made from such data for the establishment of an industrial home for the adult blind.” [many applications made to the school from blind adults]


  1. Remodel old buildings and make them fireproof. Old buildings are firetraps. “The enire inner structure, floors, ceilings and roofs are worn out and full of cracks and holes, affording only a suitable habitat for bats and rats, snakes, centipedes and stinging scorpions, not to mention smaller insects….”the floors are splintered and worn, so that they can not be scoured and kept clean…The bathing facilities for the children are wretchedly inadequate…To replace this old wooden rubbish with reinforced concrete floors and iron stairways and lockers…”
  2. New power house, laundry and steam heating system. “The various additions that have been made from time to time have drawn upon and overtaxed the capacity of the steam heating plant. Then there are old, worn-out radiators which leak and sputter without giving off heat; old, exposed pipes which often burst under the small pressure of six pounds and are too small to carry enough steam to fill the circuit of radiators attached, and the return drainage is a combination of two systems, which do not work together successfully, namely the gravity and the vacuum systems, the new school building having the vacuum and the old buildings having the gravity return without sufficient fall, causing the return pipes and radiators to be filled with water, thus shutting out the steam. To remedy these defects by any method of repair is not possible as past experience has shown , and all efforts to repair have proved to be money wasted. The worst feature is, that during a cold spell is jus the time when the heating system will not work. In cold weather the children and resident officers and teachers suffer, often having to go to bed to keep warm.” The one-roller mangle makes it necessary to dry on clothes lines in the sunshine; when the sun doesn’t shine, the clothes don’t dry. These lines occupy part of “our already too narrow yard and make an unsightly appearance and cause a great deal of extra labor.” An adequate mangle would replace 1-2 laundresses.
  3. Hospital. Presently part of the dorms are used for hospitals and this is not wise especially during epidemics.
  4. Field officer. Present enrollment doesn’t represent half the number of blind and partially blind children who should be brought. “It would be the duty of such field officer to visit all parts of the State, inform parents of the existence and purpose of this school, and convince them of their patriotic and parental duty to educate their blind children the same as their seeing children, so that all may become equally useful and self-reliant citizens, not public burdens and mendicants; and it would be the further duty of such field officer to look after the welfare of our graduates, ex-students, and the adult blind, affording them encouragement in their efforts at self-support and finding buyers for their wares and employment for the worthy.”
  5. New sewer needed. Present one made when institution smaller and no longer has sufficient capacity.

Other great needs include more ground. Have an offer of a half and quarter block lying south of the Institute for $9500.

“…while money is being spent ungrudgingly for the seeing and for these unfortunates who are suffering the penalties of the law, the State of Texas in her generosity and fairness can not afford to postpone longer adequate provision for her most unfortunate children, the blind, who otherwise would grow up to be public charges and mendicants.”

List of accounts shows a second story added to the mattress building, erected an east wing including heating and wiring for $10,000. Repaired gallery to kitch and screening. Recovered with metal the old building. Repaired the steam heating system “and for putting it in first-class condition.” Made a swimming pool. Screening slop sink and putting in sanitary condition with two new ranges. Fire escapes, fire hose, hose reel, extinguishers.  Moving, repairing and resetting pipe organ.

“in making a comparative statement of per capita cost of the State School for the Blind, it should be borne in mind that other institutions—

  1. Raise vegetables, cows, hogs, chickens, and many other supplies, which diminish greatly the cost of living. This can  not be done in the State School for the Blind, because there is so little ground.
  2. Use their inmates to do a great deal of the labor in dining room, dormitories, laundry, farm etc., which we hire done for the Blind Institute; not only the extra employes’ wages, but their board must be taken into account.
  3. Do not have a corps of music teachers and musical instruments, which are absolutely essential in the education of the blind.
  4. Instruct the inmates in large classes, while instruction of the blind is individual.
  5. Use the ordinary State adoption books, while the books and apparatus for instruction of the blind cost from ten to fifty times as much…” List of texts and their costs for first 8 grades follows.

Lists costs other schools for the blind with number of teachers, pupils, total expenses, per capital cost. Range from $168 in Tennessee to $839 in Nebraska, general cost is $2-300.

Many of those with low costs don’t furnish clothing and transportation and charge $150-300 for living expenses.

Biennial report Supt. Bramlette

Added Spanish, rug and carpet weaving, telegraphy reinstated after several years of neglect. Added second teacher of physical training and special teacher of violin.

Much of intro copies language from last report.

Placed an exhibition at the Texas Cotton Palace for 3 successive years. Awarded first prize each time for best educational exhibit. TSB “was awarded the gold medal and diploma at the Universal Exposition at St. Louis, 1904, in competition with eleven other schools for the blind, and in 1898 our school was awarded a diploma for its superior exhibit at Dallas State Fair. “

“The number of young children has largely increased, which is the best evidence of public confidence. Enrollment for 1913-14 was 120 boys, 113 girls. Page damaged for next year, but total is 23-. Many pupils are irregular in attendance, dropping out when their eyes are somewhat improved and returning again after one or more sessions. Some parents move and are not found again for a year or two.

Literary teachers have an average of 18 pupils each, and each housemother has to look after 35-40. Some children apply for admission each year who are feeble-minded. School isn’t able to handle them. Same problem at the School for the Deaf. There are also feeble-minded who can see and hear. “Therefore a school for the care, development, and education wherever possible of this most unfortunate class should be established by the State without delay.”

Quotes from several letters of adult blind looking for training in something they can do. Argues for addition of a field officer “who could travel over the State and lecture on the prevention of blindness, what to do with blind babies, and give some home instruction to the adult blind.”

“A better system of keeping books and accounts by all the heads of departments has resulted in great saving.”

“Improvements made during your administration, the condition is much better than it has been for many years.”

  1. improvements in the kitchen and dining room
  2. improvements to dorms: roofs partly made new and partly mended, new single beds, new flooring, new electric lighting, new water and steam heating system.
  3. Better equipment: moving and rebuilding organ, stereograph for printing New York point, 4 new pianos, loom for rug and carpet weaving, dissected maps.
  4. New fire escape and fire apparatus, hot water heater, new electric wiring, new plumbing, new heating system, swimming pool, new apparatus in the gymnasium
  5. New fireproof industrial building, new sewer, mangle, extension of conduit and making same waterproof, electric motor, new boiler, new fuel oil tank, new concrete walks and fences.

33d legislature (Chapter 103) fixed number and term of office of boards at six years.


  1. new buildings and a new site. “Certain appropriations were asked for by me and were generously granted by the Thirty-Third Legislature for remodeling and making fireproof the old buildings on our present site, but these were vetoed. In view of the small space of ground we have for our present site and the great difficulty and expense of remodeling the old buildings, so that they would be comfortable, safe and commodious, it seems to one hat your veto will become a genuine public service, if the next Legislature in its wisdom will grant a new site.” Not less than 100 acres. Most students are from the country—should offer classes appropriate to that: agriculture, horticulture, poultry and hog raising, etc.
  2. Instructor in public speaking. Some students have become ministers and lawyers. “This is not only th epublic free school for the blind, but is their only college and training school for life-work, and therefore our couses of instruction and training should be ample for all their needs.”
  3. Field officer.
  4. Law should be passed to control ophthalmia neonatorum and trachoma. Would prevent about one third of all blindness in Texas.
  5. Law should be passed requiring blind and deaf to attend their respective schools.

10 graduates, 20 certificates of proficiency in music, piano tuning, industrial dept.—in 1913.

In 1914, 5 graduates, 18 certificates of proficiency in music, piano tuning, industrial dept, physical training.


 Program Catalog, 1903-1904

More pictures.

Duplicates last year’s catalog.

Similar breakdown of students. Also by dept. Lists graduates from 1856 to current.

“During the year 1903-1904 we erected a magnificent three-story school building, consisting of sixteen school rooms, two gymnasiums, and a large dchapel, all furnished in the most modern style.

“There is now an abundance of room for all pupils who will come.

“The dormitories are well equipped, the library is extensive and well adapted to the needs of the blind; the apparatus, musical instruments and machinery are all thoroughly suited to the most rapid and substantial progress of the pupils, while teachers and methods are entirely worthy of patronage.

“We appeal to all people to assist us in getting blind children of those with badly defective sight into our school. It is difficult to induce parents of blind children to patronize our school. They imagine that no person other than father or mother can or will look after the child. They also imagine that children do not receive proper treatment in the Blind Institute. On the contrary, the facts are that children are treated with every kindness and shown every affection, and that they are thoroughly happy, and that they progress well.

“With everything furnished to the child, as is the case in the Blind Institute, ther is no excuse for any sightless child to grow up in ignorance. The entire moral atmosphere is wholesome, the social life of the child is carefully guarded, the physical health is faithfully preserved in so far as is possible in human affairs.

“We therefore appeal to all friends of this unfortunate class to assist us in getting all eligible children into the school.” (p. 46-47)

Also a page of NY point alphabet.

 47th annual report. Supt: H.L. Piner

Gov. S.W.T. Lanham.

School building authorized by last Legislature completed and now ready for use. This effectively relieves the overcrowded condition of the dormitories in the old buildings.

Bought half a block of ground west of the present grounds, on Red River Street for the future.

Sewerage and heating systems in very faulty condition: pipes defective from age and use, requiring constant repairs and expense, and not infrequently endangering the health of the children. Recommend an entire overhauling of both systems.

Large number of new applications for admission.

Especially needed is building for boys’ industrial dept., separate from the main buildings “not only to properly accommodate this department, but to remove the extreme danger of fire, which is a constant menace to the entire property.”

Supt: “In the United Sates there are but two or three institutions for the blind whose curriculum is more extensive than ours, and in the South,  none.”

Adopted quarterly written exams, based upon questions made out by the Superintendent. Promotions and demotions are determined by the grades made by the pupils in these examinations…--stimulated the entire student body to greater mental effort.”

Record questions and grades, also conduct of the child.

“…we guard constantly the social and moral life of the children in every possible way.”

Health of children good, but 2 deaths from acute gastritis.

“Our gymnasium regime has been a boon to these anemic children.” …”During the past two years the whole student body has shown a marked improvement in physical development, bodily carriage, buoyancy of spirit and general health as a direct result of this department.”

Enrolled 183 pupils: 87 boys and 96 girls.

Big outreach effort: sent catalogues to >800 newspapers, sent out circulars of information to newspapers and over 5000 physicians in the state.

11 graduates, 8 boys, and three girls. Some already have positions  for actual business in life. One of the girls will become an instructor in the NM School for the Blind. 2-3 boys will enter UT in fall.

Sent to the Louisiana Exposition 19 cabinets of products from industrial depts.., and from the music and literary branches of school. Consisted of brooms, mattresses, chairs, seated and backed with cain, woolen manufactures, bead work, and various forms of literary and music specimens. Expense for exhibit was from entertainments given to the public by the children.

Organized an Alumni Assn.  With 68 charter members. Many of the ex-pupils are making a living successfully and independently. Several teaching seeing persons. Some tuning pianos, some instructing classes in guitar, mandolin, and other instruments; several making brooms, some in ministry, some in mercantile lines. Two girls whose eyes cured tow here could see fairly well, learned telegraphy; one is manager of telegraph office at Lampasas, other at Bonham.

During year “a commodious three-story brick school building was erected and equipped.” Barn overhauled, and large shed built on the north side. Boiler rooms repaired, kitchens renovated, extensive brick walks put down, fences built across the street which was closed.  Bought a half block just west of institution on Red River.

Need thorough renovation of heating and sewerage systems. “Everything possible has been done to improve the conditions that were responsible for the unprecedented siege of sickness here three years ago, but the pipes are old, wasted, and even perforated through age and rust. “ Whole system publicly condemned in writing by competent and disinterested experts, and “their reports have been published in the Journal of the House of Representatives.”

Also need to enlarge laundry--$2500.

Need boys’ industrial department separate from main buildings. “Present shops are in the main buildings, and the extreme danger of fire from the very inflammable materials constantly abounding in these rooms, subjects the entire plant to unusual danger from fire. Besides, the room is needed for other things.” --$6000

Have about 140 children who are totally indigent for whom furnish home and school, transportation and clothing.

Materials for blind cost 5-500 times as much as for seeing children. Barnes’ US History for sighted: $1.40; for blind $10.50. Slate for seeing child, 15 cents; for blind $4. Bible for seeing, 50 cents, for blind $12. Map of whole world, 25 cents for seeing children; for blind $300. Similarly drugs, medicines, surgical operations, specialists’ services and maintenance in general are more expensive.

Brooms sold to other state institutions. –700 dozen, plus another 300 dozen to jobbing trade.

During past year, students suffered from 3 epidemics, one of (mild) malarial fever (beginning of year, indicating students came with it)(24 cases), one of la grippe (38 students), and one of acute gastritis (11 affected, 2 died). No pneumonia. Excluding these epidemics, health has ben very good, “especially so when we consider the lowered vitality and the lack of resistance to disease in the blind child.” Procedures included 2 tonsilotomies and one operation on the foot. Lists conditions treated, including 1 case of syphilis.

Oculist daily treated average of 87 cases, 22 surgeries, 7 dismissed as cured. Requests a suitable operating room in charge of a trained nurse. Again pleads for legislation to deal with “baby’s sore eyes” which would reduce the chief cause of blindness. “the health of calves is heedfully safeguarded, but babies are wantonly doomed to blindness without let or hindrance.”

…”the one problem for this insitution is the actual preparation of its wards for making their bread and meat in the real struggle of life.

“Most of them come from humble homes.” Majority are furnished with all transportation and clothing.

“Educated poverty, however, is better than illiterate poverty; and while we are endeavoring to give them knowledge of text-books, were are also striving daily and determinedly to create a desire for some special trade, business or profession among the children, and to lead them in the direction of their choice, so that when they leave us they may go with something tangible in the way of life-work and consequent success. How well this has been done may be attested by the growing number of persons who graduate here and are now making an honest living.”