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January 25, 2005

Man studies ISD history

From: Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil - Council Bluffs,IA,USA - Jan 25, 2005

PHIL ROONEY, Staff Writer

It was a bit of history with lunch Monday for students at Iowa School for the Deaf, as the school continued its year-long anniversary marking 150 years of serving deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals.

Monday marked the 150th anniversary of the Iowa Legislature passing the law that formed the school. The first classes were held just days later on Feb. 3, 1855.

Ron Sutcliffe, a 1954 ISD graduate who earned his master's and doctorate at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., has completed a book on the school's history that he hopes to see published in May.

Using that research, he entertained the students over lunch with the story of ISD's history, ranging from information on the Legislature's 1866 vote to move the school from Iowa City to Council Bluffs and the 1888 decision to change the school's name from the State Institution for the Deaf and Dumb.

In between he talked of ISD's 13 superintendents and the challenges posed by fires, a tornado and the lack of financial support that made building the institution such a daunting task.

For Sutcliffe, who taught business for 10 years at Gallaudet, the world's only university for the deaf and hard of hearing, and served there as business dean for five years, the book is just his latest achievement.

"It's a challenge," he said through an interpreter. "You've just really got to keep digging."

Much of the information came from the Council Bluffs and Iowa City libraries, he said. State government records and the Iowa State Historical Museum were other valuable resources.

"The first problem was the pictures," he said.

Many from the school's first century were poor in quality, and extra care was needed in making the selections. Sutcliffe, a Waverly native whose parents also graduated from ISD, is retired after teaching and working with the National Deaf Business Institute.

Iowa School for the Deaf will continue the sesquicentennial observance on May 26.

©Daily Nonpareil 2005