LOOKING BACK at Kentucky School for the Deaf

By JoAnn Hamm and Mary Fran Melton

Jacobs Hall Museum Volunteers

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 1896 – 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 students and staff had in a residential deaf school and show how the community touched the lives of students and staff at the school. 

May 1892

The officers, teachers, and pupils, desiring to give concrete evidence of their patriotism, contributed money this week to purchase a large United States flag to be raised on the school grounds. A fifty-foot high staff has been purchased and it will be erected in the yard in front of the chapel building.  

Mr. Chrisman has made a great record on his wheel this year. A short time ago he went 14 miles in an hour and a little later covered five miles in 19 and one fourth minutes. He has received offers to race with some of the trotters in Danville but he won’t accept any of them unless they are willing to go over five miles, as in a mile, a horse could easily beat a bicycle, but in a “five miler” not many horses could keep up with one.

About 10 girls visited John Robinson’s Circus which was in town last Thursday. They saw “Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.” It was a good and interesting play. The boys preferred to play at home and save their money to witness the baseball game the next day. Baseball is a great attraction for them but it has little charm for the girls.  Girls’ Reporter – Belle Lunsford

May 1917

The ball team representing the Sue-Bennett Memorial School of London, Ky., was here last Friday for a game with our boys. They are typical mountaineers — tall, athletic fellows with a deceptive deliberation about them and they were as quick as cats on the field. Their coach, Jones, is a veteran player, a former member of the New York Giants, and knows Hoy and Luther Taylor. (William “Dummy Hoy and Luther “Dummy” Taylor, both famous deaf baseball players were the KSD boys’ heroes.)

The club is a very strong one and our boys borrowed some help from the outside but were unable to win. The London boys took dinner with our boys, leaving in the evening for home. They are clean, gentlemanly young fellows and made an excellent impression here.

School will come to an end  May 4th, and the pupils will leave for home on the 15th and 16th. The conditions created by the war have made it necessary to close three weeks ahead of the usual time. In fact it has been quite a struggle to keep the school going this long in the face of the tremendous increase in the cost of living in the last twelve months. There will be no graduates, and no public exercises this year. The members of the most advanced class are quite young, and they have elected to return next year for further study — a most sensible decision.

A new house is going up on Third Street opposite the boys’ playground. A beautiful bungalow has just been completed opposite the Third Street gate, and work is just starting on a handsome hospital building at the intersection of Third and Green Street, just northwest of the boys’ playground. South Third Street has improved greatly in the last few years. It used to be the most fashionable street in Danville, but that was a long time ago.

May 1942

Sugar rationing

On Wednesday, May 6, the school, cooperating with the Sugar Rationing Board of Boyle County, registered all pupils over eighteen and the employees of the school and issued rationing cards to all. The job required a whole morning’s work for three people and proved an interesting experience for most of the youngsters even though it brought them face to face to the inconveniences of war. Approximately ninety-six cards were issued.

The Centre College Carnival has been called off on account of the war, much to the disappointment of the people here. The carnival has grown into a leading spring event in this section and drew large crowds. It was hoped our pupils would get to see it this year as it was scheduled for an earlier date than usual. Many old timers will recall the decorated carriages and floats in the parades of bygone days.

A wartine commencement

The present Session of the Kentucky School for the Deaf will come to a close at noon, Wednesday, May 27, and pupils will begin leaving for home that afternoon. By noon next day, the 28th, every pupil will have departed. There will be no graduates this year and no public exercises. We have a promising Senior Class but it has not quite finished the course, and as the members are nearly all quite young, they will return next year to graduate. Several of them are turning longing eyes toward Gallaudet College. 

In 1975 KSD opened the new swimming pool at the Thomas Athletic Complex. Ellen Quaack, a 1979 graduate, was featured on the cover of the March 1977 Kentucky Standard as she “enjoyed the new Olympic-size pool in the Thomas Physical Education Complex.” A series of expensive repairs kept the pool closed from 2011 until May 2017.

The older girls, members of the Good Time Club, organized by Enfield Joyner and Belle Marcosson, enjoyed a picnic outing near a stream. Most of the girls are wearing Good Time Club attire – white middy blouse with dark tie and a straw hat.