Plzeňské sympozia

Petr Svobodný

Three Generations of the Family of Alois Klar: Three Phases of Care for the Blind in Bohemia

pp. 170–187 (Czech), Summary p. 188 (English)

In the introductory part of this essay, its author outlines research into care for the blind in the 19th century along the lines of the concepts of exclusion, isolation and disciplination (with subjects of exclusion etc., on the one hand, and levels of exclusion on the other), and points to the starting points of research into the phenomena of charity,  philanthropy and altruism. In the following section, he analyses three stages of care for the blind in Bohemia, roughly concurrent with three generations of the Klar family, with focus on the gradually evolving forms of care and the  consequent broadening of the scope of care provided by the (Klar) institute/s/ to include further age groups. Dealing with the early period (1807 – 1831) associated with the work of Alois Klar, the author presents the Prague Private  Institute for Poor Blind Children, in the district of Hradčany, whose chief mission was to prepare children for their future independent life. In terms of operation, this institute was linked with the medical institute run by the later Medical School Professor, J.N. Fischer, a successful ophthalmological surgeon. Alois Klar’s initiative of 1831 for the further upgrading of care for the blind, extending it to adult patients, resulted in the establishment, in Malá Strana district, in 1832, of the Providing and Occupational Institute for Adults. Its actual development (1832 – 1860/73),  however, did not take place until after Alois Klar’s death, under the direction of his son, Pavel Alois Klar, whose tenure saw among other things the building of the Institute’s home at what is today Klárov. The third stage of the Institute’s history, associated with Rudolf Maria Klar (who stood at its helm from 1873 – 1898), was marked by further changes in care for the blind and its extension to further age groups, mostly provided in the Institute’s newly established branches, as well as in separate autonomous institutions (notably the Francisco-Josefinum, set up in the district of Smíchov in 1893, catering for senior citizens). The institutes linked with three generations of the Klar family continued to operate and develop (even in terms of new premises being built), playing an important part in the system of care for the blind still after the death of the family’s last member and in the interwar period.

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