Kentucky School for the Blind


The Kentucky Institution for the Education of the Blind was founded by the Legislature of Kentucky in the year 1842. Nearly a century after its founding, the enrollment in the school had grown to a record 196 students. The inaugural class at the Institution noted that the officers performed their duties with faithfulness and ability, and merit public confidence. Whereas the pupils are diligent and orderly, and have improved much in manners and personal appearance during the short time they have been members of the institutions. Students’ progress was noted as being equal to the most sanguine expectation of the Board of Visitors. Reading and spelling were from books printed in embossed letters; arithmetic, thought mentally, and by use of the slate, frames and types, prepared especially for the blind; geography, taught orally, and by means of maps and atlases in raised characters; and writing and music. All pupils in the institution, over a two month period, could read with considerable fluency in the Bible and other books printed for the blind. It was also noted that several wrote in a legible hand and corresponded with distant friends by letter. They wrote with lead pencils instead of a pen as a blind person cannot see to the regular supply and flow of the ink. They placed their papers on pasteboard with grooves to guide the pencil of the writer. Good progress was made in arithmetic and geography as well.

Every blind child in Kentucky, or any Kentucky child whose sight is so poor as to prevent it from attending an ordinary school, can get a free education at the Kentucky School for the Blind in Louisville, Kentucky. there is no charge for board, tuition or books.

There are separate schools for the white children and for the colored children, some distance apart, each with its own set of teachers. The State has endeavored to make these schools everything they should be for the education, health, and comfort of the blind Children of Kentucky. The buildings are large and beautifully situated on rolling grounds with magnificent forest trees, and filled with every possible device for the training of the blind. The teachers are the best that can be had, thoroughly experienced in teaching those who cannot see.

To get into the school, it is necessary that the child has too little sight to attend an ordinary school, be between six and eighteen years of age, have a sound mind, be free from disease, and a resident of Kentucky.

Letter to Parents of Children Who Do Not See:

It is the ardent wish of the Board that every child who is eligible, shall attend this school and receive an education that will enable him to become a useful, happy and self-supporting citizen.

The course of study is similar to that offered by the public schools but peculiarly adapted for the blind.

Skillful, devoted teachers will care for the comfort, health, and welfare of your child in an atmosphere that is homelike and wholesome.

Letters to parents are written periodically so that they may be kept advised as to the health and progress of the children. In case of illness, children have expert doctors and their parents are promptly notified.

All children return to their homes for the summer vacation but extended holiday is not encouraged during the school year.

Visitors are cordially welcome at any time.

Further information will be gladly given–address inquiries to:

Kentucky School for the Blind

1867 Frankfort Avenue

Louisville, Kentucky

A Day in the Life

Exercises of the pupils commenced at 7 o’clock AM and continue, with a short recess of fifteen minutes at the end of every hour until 1 o’clock PM. Afternoons are devoted to work and music. Two hours every evening are occupied in reading history, biography, miscellaneous literature, and the news of the day. Strict attention is paid to the manners, morals, and health of the pupils. They attend church on Sabbath, without any restraint, at places of their own choice. The school session opens the second Wednesday of September and closes the second Wednesday in June, the children going to their homes for the summer vacation.

Courses of Study

Inaugural class of 1842.

Early in its training, the blind child is taught to read with its fingers (Revised Braille System), and thus it is enabled to develop self-improvement through the reading of good literature. Especially popular with the older girls is the cooking class where foods and dainty menus are planned and prepared. Because of the natural talent for music, which the blind have, our Boys’ Band is the goal for which many strive. It furnishes the music for the activities of the School.

  • Kindergarten
  • First through Eighth Grade
  • High School
  • Typewriting
  • Dictaphone
  • Salesmanship
  • Music
  • Choir
  • Composition
  • Harmony
  • Band
  • Gymnastics
  • Athletics
  • Playground
  • Cooking
  • Sewing
  • Weaving
  • Handicraft
  • Basketry
  • Clay Modeling
  • Chair Caning
  • Piano Tuning
  • Boy Scouts
  • Girl Scouts
  • Hiking
  • Entertainments

Clothing and Supplies

The child’s name must be plainly marked on each article of clothing. An allowance of two dollars should be furnished to each child for small items such as hair cutting, posting, etc.


  • 1 Dress for best wear
  • 4 Dark gingham dresses, winter coat, hat and gloves, Sweater or coat, and cap
  • 3 Suits heavy underwear
  • 3 Suits cotton underskirts, or
  • 2 Pairs of bloomers
  • 1 White underskirt
  • 3 Night-gowns
  • 6 Pairs stockings
  • 2 Pairs shoes
  • 1 Pair galoshes
  • 12 Handkerchiefs
  • 2 Washcloths, comb, brush and toothbrush


  • 1 Suit for best wear
  • 1 Suit for school
  • 2 Extras pairs of trousers
  • 1 Sweater, overcoat, cap and gloves
  • 3 Suits heavy underwear
  • 3 Suits light underwear
  • 1 White shirt or waist
  • 2 Light colored shirts or waists
  • 3 Dark colored shirts or waists
  • 3 Pairs pajamas
  • 6 Pairs stockings or socks
  • 2 Pairs shoes
  • 1 Pair rubbers, suspenders or belt
  • 12 Handkerchiefs
  • 2 Washcloths, comb, brush and toothbrush


Director – The Institution shall be under the charge of a Director, who shall reside in the house with the pupils, direct their studies, labor and recreation, and take such part in their instruction as to him may seem expedient. He shall report, monthly, to the Board of Visitors, and make, suggestions as he may think the interest of the situation requires. The teachers, matron, and all subordinate officers are under the supervision of the director.

Matron – The Matron shall, under the direction of the Director, have charge of the domestic concerns of the Institution. She shall superintend the clothing of the pupils, endeavor to promote their health, morals, and happiness, and co-operate with the Director and Teachers in their government and education.

Beneficiaries – Indigent children may be received and educated at the expense of the institution with certificates from a Magistrate or known respectable citizen to prove that they are inhabitants of the State of Kentucky and that the parents are unable to defray the expenses of their education.

Officers of the Board of Visitors


William F. Bullock

Samuel Casseday

Bryce M. Patten

Officers of the Institution


Bryce M. Patten, M.A.

Otis Patten

Mrs. M. T. Boynton

Miss Elvessa J. Ruth
Teacher of Work in Girls’ Department

Image Gallery

Braille Guide

(From the Medical Heritage Library Collection)

Contributed by Shawn Logan |

⁘ Works Cited ⁘

  1. The Lexington Leader, 9 December 1949
  2. The Lexington Leader, 12 December 1952
  1. Kentucky School for the Blind. Report. Frankfort, Ky. [etc.], 1843.

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