Baltimore, Maryland: Various publishers, 1908-1916. 9” x 6. Stapled wrappers. Pp. 53,  + six plates; 68,  + six plates; 56 + six plates; 30, 16 + seven plates. Generally very good plus or better with light wear and toning; offsetting to some pages opposite plates.
This is a group of annual reports for the Department for Colored Blind and Deaf of the Maryland School for the Blind (“DCB”) covering the two year periods ending June 30th 1907, 1909, 1913 and 1915, respectively. The DCB was established in 1872 as “The Institution for the Colored Blind and Deaf-Mutes” with an act of the Maryland legislature and opened that fall with six students. The program was established and located within the same facilities used for the Maryland School for the Blind (“MSB”).
This run of reports provides an exceptional amount of detail with respect to the goings on at the DCB in the early 20th century. Along with financial and officer reports, the dizzying array of data and documentation includes short histories of the DCB and reports of all its departments including literary, music, the shoe shop, caning shop, farm work and more. We also learn about the daily chores and tasks of the students who are all identified in a full roster that included where they were from as well as demographic data with respect to the ages at which they had become deaf and/or blind, and the causes if known.
Two of the reports list all the different classes taught by grade (1st through 10th) or department with many showing the teacher's names as well. Syllabi are also shown for some classes. The school's two literary societies, the Booker T. Washington Literary Society for the Blind and the Gallaudet Literary Society for the Deaf provided information as well. The 1909 report has a list, several pages long, of all the New York Point books in its library, as well as music books. Also of note is the report ending 1907 which has a special leaf inserted that contains the alphabet for New York Point, along with raised dots; the report of 1913 has a nine page primer on the basics of New York Point. These reports also document the school's progress as it transitioned to new grounds and buildings. The first report here described how the DCB had to give up its school building and shop in mid-March and rented a temporary space for the remainder of the school year. Its report on the early transition was hopeful and prescient:
“Our future holds many possibilities and we hope with ninety acres of good soil, two new, modern buildings, a good cottage, a shop and the energetic perseverance of an earnest corps of workers to prove by the mental, moral and physical development of our pupils that this change has been a wise one.”
The later reports expanded upon these possibilities by providing details on newly built structures and how they were being used.
Another important aspect to this run are the photos. There are at least 21 different images (several are duplicated in different years) with 13 showing African American students. Many of these are internal views of active classrooms showing the students discussing literature, sewing, cooking, men caning chairs in a shop and more. We also see the dining room and dorm. There's also a full page street level view of the school on West Saratoga Street that was used from 1879 to 1907 as well as full page views and several smaller shots of, at first, the undeveloped grounds of the school's new location, with later reports showing the completed administration building and dormitory.
Soon after the decision in Brown v. Board of Education, the MSB started to desegregate such that by June 1956 the DCB had closed.
OCLC shows physical holdings of one copy each report on offer. Considering the dearth of information on the DCB and the surprising rarity of these reports, this is an invaluable opportunity to document the programs, curricula and every day life of this program that provided opportunity and hope to disabled African American children.
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