I just received a letter and I wanted to share it. First, I should explain The Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School (IBSSS) is the formal name of the blind school in Vinton, Iowa that Mary Ingalls attended. The school was part of a program where blind students from Dakota Territory, which did not yet have a blind school of its own, would have their tuition paid to the Iowa School for the Blind (as it was then known). Charles and Caroline Ingalls would have been responsible for Mary’s clothing, room, board, books, and incidentals, plus the transportation costs of getting her there. The letter as originally written spells out the names both of the school and the new organization several times. The full name is Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School Mary Ingalls Society which they are abbreviating IBSSS Mary Ingalls Society. I’m going to abbreviate it MIS after the first mention because I think their abbreviation is really still too long. – After the letter I’m going to link to some related posts. – SSU
The IBSSS Mary Ingalls Society was recently formed to begin the work of addressing the historical significance of IBSSS and its connection to the Ingalls-Wilder family. We have been approved to operate under the umbrella of the Vinton Community Foundation which is a 501c3 organization. This allows any of the contributions made to the MIS to be tax deductible. For a contribution of $20.00 or more per year the donor’s name will be added to the MIS membership roster. The names on this roster will be listed in any program for events hosted by the MIS and will be given annually to local media for publication. There will be a general meeting of MIS membership every two years in September beginning with September 2014.
The original building on the IBSSS grounds, Old Main, was opened in 1862, and has been in continuous use by the school since that time. It is a beautiful building with a rich story to tell. One part of that story is of Mary Ingalls walking its halls and the surrounding grounds tell. One part of that story is Mary Ingalls walking its halls and the surrounding grounds while she developed the skills which allowed her to be an independent woman. There is a museum on the third floor of Old Main which gives visitors a taste of what educational and dormitory rooms looked like at the time Mary attended. It is a hidden treasure that needs to be dressed up and enhanced with audio/visual aids and virtual reality experiences to get it readied for exploration by as many guests as we can entice to come.
Many Ingalls-Wilder home sites are scattered around Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and South Dakota. Tours are offered at each and some hold annual pageants re-enacting the life of the Ingalls family while in that location. We are looking into holding such a pageant on the MIS grounds telling the story of Mary’s time here and of the family’s struggles to allow her this opportunity. We see this as a way to have a fun and festive day on the lovely grounds while you feel its history come to life.
All of this costs money. We have been successful in securing some funds through a grant and from a small Mary Ingalls program presented this summer. This letter is to ask for your significant place worthy of note.
Any donations should be made to the MIS Society and sent to:
IBSSS Mary Ingalls Society
P.O. Box 326
Vinton IA 52349.
Thank you for your attention. We hope to see you at the IBSSS to find out for yourself what a treasure it is.
IBSSS Mary Ingalls Society Board
Straight Line Winds Hit Blind School
Blind School March 2012
Blind School July 2012
UPDATE 2015: The Mary Ingalls Society has made considerable process in preserving the heritage of the school, restoring the museum, reclaiming the Founder’s Room, and putting on their first official Mary Ingalls Pageant. I’m proud to say I have helped in the process. If you want to keep in touch with the Mary Ingalls Society, Like their Facebook page.
Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation.Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+,LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. She is currently acting President of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.