Looking back at Kentucky School for the Deaf's past

Colleges and UniversitiesCollege SportsUniversity of LouisvilleCrime, Law and JusticeScienceUniversity of KentuckyArts and Culture

In 1874 Kentucky School for the Deaf began publishing a weekly in-house newspaper, the Kentucky Deaf-Mute to give the male students an opportunity to learn the printing trade. KSD published the newspaper continuously from 1874 to 2004 with only a name change in 1895 — to the Kentucky Standard. From 1883 until 1942 George M. McClure was the editor of the paper. His relationships with students and wide connections with schools for the deaf throughout the country give a glimpse of the life of students and staff and show how the community touched the lives of students and staff at the school.  

Jacobs Hall Museum volunteers make excerpts from the campus news found in the Deaf-Mute and Standard from 125 years ago (1886), 100 years ago (1911) and 75 years ago (1936) available to the community each month in “Looking Back at KSD’s Past.”


The Kentucky Deaf-Mute, April 1887 

The foundation for the addition to the Colored Institute buildings is being laid.

We are sick and tired of hearing that word “asylum” applied to our school, but the only thing that we can do is to record our protest and then — “grin and bear it.” The little wooly-headed citizens call it the “’silum,” the grown up ones the “dummy ‘silum,” and so on up to the more polished, but considering the source, still more harmful phrase, “The Deaf Mute Asylum” of those who should know better. It is no consolation that when any one is taken to task for persistence in applying this name, the invariable protestation is that they mean nothing derogatory to the school by it.

An interesting religious revival is in progress at the Baptist church which has resulted so far in about 60 additions to the membership, among the number being four pupils of this Institution.

We are really glad to say that some of the older boys have stopped chewing tobacco, but other boys say they cannot stop chewing. They are not wise. We wish all the boys to cease chewing. Boys, you must not get in the habit of chewing tobacco.


The Kentucky Standard, April 1912

The Central University gymnasium was destroyed by fire Monday afternoon. The flames had gained such headway when discovered that there was from the first no hope of saving the building. The loss is estimated at $20,000. The alumni had just finished raising the sum of $20,000 that was to have been used in remodeling and enlarging the building the coming summer. The fire was only three squares west of this school and from the upper stories the pupils watched the vain fight of the fire department to subdue the flames.

A nice new swing has been placed on the front veranda of the main building. The little ones will soon have swings, and will be sure to enjoy them during the beautiful spring evenings.

We had colored eggs for breakfast last Sunday. Mr. Hart of Chicago sent 600 eggs to use. We extend a thousand thanks for his kindness in remembering us.

Among the measures passed by the last Legislature was a new compulsory attendance law for the public schools of the state. Its provisions are strict, requiring all children between the ages of seven and twelve to attend the full term of the public schools of their home district, or some private or parochial school. The child may be taught at home, but in such case the courts may order examinations to be given by the country superintendent of schools. Only such children as are not in proper physical or mental condition to study are excused from its provisions. A fine of from $5 to $50 is provided for violations of the law. It does not apply to the deaf.

A colored baseball team from Louisville crossed bats with the Danville Africans on our grounds last week. Ben Ham was umpire and previous to the game borrowed a pitchfork from Mr. Fosdick for the purpose of making his decisions respected.

(Note: Central University of Kentucky (Danville, Ky.) — In 1901 Centre College and Central University were legally consolidated under the corporate name Central University of Kentucky. Located in Danville, the new institution was governed by a Board of Trustees composed of 24 members, one-half appointed by the Northern Synod of Kentucky, and the other half by the Southern Synod. The university was originally comprised of Centre College, the undergraduate college of arts and sciences; the Danville College of Law; the Kentucky Theological Seminary, located in Louisville; the Hospital College of Medicine, located in Louisville; and the Louisville College of Dentistry. It also included three collegiate institutes, or preparatory schools, located in Danville, Jackson and Elizabethtown. Over the next decade and a half, the affiliated schools either ceased to exist or were transferred to other controlling governing bodies. The Theological Seminary became part of today's Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary; the medical and dental would be incorporated into the University of Louisville; control of the collegiate institutes in Jackson and Elizabethtown was turned over to the Presbyterian Synod of Kentucky; the law school closed in 1911, and Centre's prep school in 1918. By 1918 all that remained of the Central University of Kentucky was Centre College. In that year, the charter was amended, and the corporate name of the institution changed to Centre College of Kentucky. — B. Nystrom)


The Kentucky Standard, April 1937

A few days ago the older pupils of our colored department, accompanied by their teacher, paid a visit to the Bate School for Danville’s colored young people. They were conducted through several of the classrooms where the school work was demonstrated for their benefit. Prof. J. W. Bate, head of the school, has held that position for more than 50 years; a short time ago the school was given a rating of “A” by the National Education Board. Danville people, respective of color, are justifiably proud of this school. The colored boys and girls and their teacher came away much impressed with the fine work done at the school

From “The Girls Side”, Willie Leona Coles, reporter, wrote, “We think Danville is going to be a prosperous place before long. The Goodall Company bought two and one half acres of land from the Kentucky School for the Deaf. At the same time our school bought a big red brick house with a lot owned by Mrs. Cora Stone on South Second Street. When the factory is completed, about 500 girls will be employed to work there. Hope some of the deaf girls will be able to get jobs there.”

There is an exhibition of wax works in the Foley building in Danville this week that has created much interest and attracted a large number of visitors. There are life-like wax figures of every president from Washington to Roosevelt, of famous historical individuals, soldiers, statesmen, pioneers and a comprehensive collection of figures of public enemies who died with their boots on.

The managers of the show are pleasant and were so kind as to invite all the pupils of our school to visit it free. The pupils, accompanied by their teachers, visited the display Tuesday morning and enjoyed it immensely besides learning a whole lot of history. Some of the boys lingered longer on the side of the room devoted to the story of Dillinger-Jesse James than on the side showing the presidents, but the latter were not entirely neglected.

The day after the arrival of the waxworks show, one of the small boys was up town and peeped through the window of the room where the wax figures were on display. He came back much excited and told everyone that Abraham Lincoln was not dead — he had just seen him sitting in a chair uptown conversing with some friends.

There is lots of editorial talent at this school, for our printing department publishes four papers: The Children’s Page, printed weekly for distribution in the primary and intermediate departments of the white school; The News, printed for distribution to the pupils in the colored department; The Silent News that has the earmarks of a prosperous daily, printed for distribution in the shop; and The Standard. And each editor thinks his, or her, own paper the best.


— By Brad Nystrom and JoAnn Hamm

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times