On Saturday, Jan. 23, the State Capitol will host a lecture followed by an exhibit tour and reception to celebrate the opening of the historic site’s latest exhibit, “The Education of the Deaf and Blind in North Carolina.”
“The Education of the Deaf and Blind in North Carolina” features vintage photos, a timeline, and a device called a “Perkins Brailler,” which enabled one to write in Braille. Visitors can learn how to write their names in Braille at a special interactive section of the exhibit.
Previously on display at the Aycock Birthplace State Historic Site in Fremont, “Education of the Deaf and Blind” will remain on view at the Capitol through Sept. 7, 2010. The exhibit was created through a joint effort of East Carolina University’s public history program and the N.C. Division of State Historic Sites. The Governor Morehead School for the Blind, the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, the N.C. School for the Deaf and the Eastern North Carolina School for the Deaf assisted.
At 2 p.m., UNC history professor Dr. James Leloudis will present his lecture, “A Classroom Revolution: Public Education and the Making of a New North Carolina, 1880-1920.” Leloudis will explain Gov. Charles B. Aycock’s role in improving the state’s education system while examining the evolution of the system as a whole. Immediately following the lecture, Dr. Marty Matthews, Curator of Research for N.C. State Historic Sites, will give a short tour of the exhibit. A reception will wrap up the event. This free public program is sponsored by the North Carolina State Capitol Foundation and the Wake County Historical Society.
The exhibit begins with the introduction of 1840s-era Gov. John Motley Morehead, an early and committed advocate who pressed the state to publicly fund the education of visually and hearing impaired students. As his 20th-century successor, Aycock campaigned on the promise that schools would be his administration’s #1 priority. When Aycock became governor in 1901, there were just three schools in the entire state specializing in educating blind and deaf children.
Shortly after taking office Aycock made good on his promise and pushed the N.C. General Assembly to boost education funding, including to schools for the deaf and blind. The exhibit documents the governor’s role in improving educational opportunities for this special population, along with the evolution of its separate educational system. Today he is known as “The Education Governor.”
The State Capitol’s mission is to preserve and interpret the history, architecture and functions of the 1840 building and Union Square. The Capitol is bounded by Edenton, Salisbury, Morgan and Wilmington streets. For more information, visit www.nchistoricsites.org/capitol/default.htm or call (919) 733-4994.
Administered by the Division of State Historic Sites, the State Capitol is part of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, the state agency with the mission to enrich lives and communities, and the vision to harness the state’s cultural resources to build North Carolina’s social, cultural and economic future. Information is available 24/7 at www.ncculture.com.
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