A report from the Iowa School for the Blind and Sight Saving School for Fall 2017. The future of the School for the Blind building and artifacts is in doubt, but if you want to do your part to encourage continued activities in Vinton please consider a membership. If visiting the blind school is important to you, do it as soon as you can – Sarah S. Uthoff
Dear Members and Friends:
October 2017 marks the 5th year the IBSSS Mary Ingalls Society has been working with the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School. It is also time to renew memberships. With that in mind we thought we would share some highlights from this past year.
- It has been a busy year that has brought over 600 people, from many other states as well as Iowa, through the front doors of Old Main. The number includes 6 bus tours and at our October 15 “Prairie Fiddle” show in the Auditorium.
- In October 2016, through our “Lot 31 Project”, we dedicated a monument and headstones at Evergreen Cemetery in Vinton. They now mark the graves of students from the School who had been laid to rest there in the late 1800s and early 1900s without permenant monuments.
- October 2016 also saw us making a presentation to the Iowa Board of Regents outlining our position on the disposition of historical artifacts and records for the School in light of the Board’s decision to sell the campus property. Our focus centered on the preservation of Old Main and maintaining the historically significant items there.
- Throughout the year we continued the work of cataloguing and preserving historic records and photos. We used grant money obtained through the Benton County Community Foundation and your generous membership gifts on the following projects. 60 VCR tapes were digitized for easier viewing and use. Newspaper and scrap book articles dating from the 1950s through the 1980s were moved from folders in file drawers to acid free clear protective sleeves and stored in acid free boxes making them easy to view and available for use in displays and programs. Some of these articles accompanied us to a presentation at the State Lions Meeting in Cedar Rapids in June. Acid free sheets for photos are now being filled to further enhance their preservation and ease of use in displays. Additional storage boxes have also been purchased and filled with various archival materials.
- In May 2017 we marked our second year for the Vinton-Shellsburg 6th graders to visit the campus. We are excited to tell you there are plans for the next group to visit in May 2018. The School also hosted a group of secondary students belonging to a group called, Future Leaders of America. Making this school connection has been a goal of ours since the beginning, and we continue to look at ways to expand our outreach to other schools in Benton County and beyond.
- We participated in and had a display for the Rare Book event held at the Cedar Rapids Library.
- This year has also marked a continuation of a great working relationship between the Mary Ingalls Society and the School’s alumni. They have been valuable allies in working on preservation of artifacts and have proven to be the highlights for many of our tour groups.
None of this work would have been possible without the participation of the IBSSS Mary Ingalls Society’s members/supporters. We sincerely thank you and invite you to renew your membership/support. If you are not a member, we invite you to join us in this work.
Mary Ingalls Society