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To His Excellency the Governor, and the Honorable the Legisla
ture of the State of Michigan: The Board of Trustees of the Asylum for Educating the Deaf and Dumb, and the Blind, respectfully submit to your Honorable body their Biennial Report, for the years 1865 and 1866.
The Board have the pleasure of communicating to you that during the past two years the health of the pupils has generally been good. But one death has occurred during that period, and from the report of the Principal, hereto annexed, it will be seen that there has been but very few cases of sickness among the pupils. The general neatness and cleanliness observable through all departments of the Institution, the good care and management of the Matron, and the prompt and ready attention of the Physician, together with the healthy location of the Asylum, have much to do with the general good health of all its inmates.
It is also gratifying to state that the number of pupils is constantly increasing, and that the whole number now receiving the benefits of this Institution is one hundred and twenty-six. And the Board take pride in saying that, so far as the means furnished will permit, the pupils are making as good progress in mental, moral and religious improvement, as at any similar institution in the United States.
The Principal is doing all that he can to systematize, economize and regulate all things appertaining to his department; and the teachers, without exception, are zealously seconding him in promoting the best educational interests of the pupils committed severally to their care.
Since our last report, W. W. Angus and Willis Hubbard, teachers in the Department for the Deaf and Dumb, have resigned; also, Marcus Kerr, one of our graduates, who, after teaching to the entire satisfaction of the Board for one year, left to enter the High School, or College, at Washington, D. C. We have now only two teachers in this department who were here at the time of our last report. The teachers who were then in the Department for the Blind have both resigned. Notwithstanding this general resignation of well qualified teachers, still the Board believe that the progress of the pupils has not been hindered nor delayed in consequence of the changes made. The Matron of the Institution, Mrs. S. M. James, also resigned at the close of the next school year after our last report, and Mrs. Z. K. DeMott was appointed in her place.
Some of our present teachers have had no great experience in teaching these unfortunate classes, but they are doing all that can reasonably be expected of them with their several classes, and the Board feel it not only a pleasure, but a duty, here publicly to express their great satisfaction with the manifest zeal and energy of the Principal and teachers, and also with the good management of the Matron, and her kind care and attention to all the pupils.
The Board are confident that all who have the supervision and care of the physical, moral and mental culture of the pupils are, in accordance with the means and facilities furnished them, doing all in their power for the best interests of those under their charge.
But to give to the pupils all the advantages and benefits that might and should be derived from an institution of this character, something more is absolutely necessary to be done. In every
other institution for the education of the Deaf and Dumb, and for the Blind, as far as the Board have any knowl- . edge, ample provision has been made for teaching the pupils some trade or handicraft. Time and again has the Board urged the Legislature to make appropriations for this purpose; and it seems almost superfluous for the Board to say anything more than to refer to former communications
this subject. And yet the great necessity there seems to the Board to exist, that at least every male pupil should be taught some trade, impels them to again urge this subject before the Legislature. It seems to the Board the bounden duty of the State, after doing so much to educate those who are so dependent upon, and are so worthy of the fostering care of the State, that when they leave this Institution they should all be prepared in some way to earn their own living; and that, after being maintained for seven years by the bounty of the State, they should, by the trades and habits of industry taught them here, be capable of forever after taking care of themselves. If the blind are not thus taught, it is more than probable that many of them will again have to be supported at the charge of the public--for if the privilege of learning some handicraft is not furnished to the blind while in the Institution, there is not the least probability that they will ever receive any instruction in mechanism of any kind. The deaf and dumb can easily learn trades, and immediate arrangements should be made in this department for cabinet shops, shoe shops and tailor shops, with material to manufacture and foremen to conduct the business. The blind can learn to make brooms, mats and mattresses.
A cabinet shop for a portion of the deaf and dumb, and a shop for the blind should be created away from the main buildings. As soon as the west wing and the main edifice are completed, there will be rooms sufficient for shoe shops and tailor shops in the basement of the school wing. The Board would therefore, for the purpose of teaching the pupils trades, earnestly recommend a suflicient appropriation.
We would also again urge the necessity of an appropriation sufficient to complete, within the next two years, the unfinished portions of the buildings. Besides the great inconvenience suffered, it is well known that large buildings deteriorate in value much faster in an unfinished state than when completed. It is certainly true economy for the State to make, at this session of
the Legislature, an appropriation sufficient for the purpose, and not to suffer a portion of one of the most valuable public buildings to become less and less valuable for the want of means for their completion and usefulness.
The Board would ask the Legislature carefully to examine the very able and full report of the Principal, in which is more fully shown the great necessity for the speedy completion of these buildings—also the reports of the two examining committees, all of which reports are hereto annexed. It is also necessary that there should be an appropriation sufficient to build a large and convenient barn. The Institution is every year sustaining losses for the want of this much needed building. Besides, to the Board it looks too much like a povertystricken State to see its public buildings remaining, from year to year, in an unfinished condition, and its store-houses and barns made up of little board shanties. It does seem to the Board, for the credit of the State, if her finances are not in such a low condition as absolutely to forbid it, that another two years should not elapse without furnishing the means to erect such out buildings as are necessary, and to complete the west wing and main edifice of the Asylum.
It is also necessary that the appropriations should be sufficient to purchase one span of horses, double harness, lumber wagon, plows and drags, and other farming utensils—to clear off twenty acres of land, and prepare the same for cultivation, and to build about one mile of fence. All of these are necessary to be done, for the purpose of economy. A good team could be employed profitably the year round. It now costs, for the use of men and teams, whenever found necessary to hire them, from three and a half to four dollars per day.
It will be found from the report of the Acting Commissioner, who also acts as Treasurer of the Board, that the expenses of the Institution for the past two years, have exceeded by quite a large amount, the appropriations. How much, the Board cannot now determine; but by the 1st day of January next, the deficiency will probably be from sixteen to twenty thousand