A Tribute to Frances Bacon

In addition to Disabilities Awareness Month, March is also Women’s History Month — making this the perfect time to honor our founder, an extraordinary woman named Frances Atchinson Bacon.

Originally from Holly, Michigan, Frances studied at the Carnegie Library School in Pittsburgh, then went on to work at a library in Indianapolis, where she and a colleague wrote several children’s books together, beginning with The ABC Book of Giant Stories.

After she and her husband made Baltimore their home in 1928, Frances continued to write. She co-authored a number of children’s books on the history of Maryland, along with young people’s fiction, including Turkey Tale and Kitty Come Down. She also worked for several years at the Enoch Pratt Library in Baltimore.

Frances and her husband gave birth to a son, Hillary, who had intellectual disabilities. Doctors told the couple Hillary would be nothing but a burden and would need to be institutionalized throughout his life.

After studying the subject of children with developmental disabilities at Indiana State Teachers College, Frances partnered with four other sets of parents of children with disabilities to create a program to enrich and educate them.

In 1947, Frances opened The School of the Chimes on the grounds of Baltimore’s Church of the Redeemer in 1947. The school — Maryland’s first for children with disabilities — was so named because the church’s bells were considered a message of hope for the children. In addition to serving on the school’s first board, Frances worked as a visiting lecturer in children’s literature at Goucher College.

Of course, in the seven-and-a-half decades since Frances Bacon founded the Chimes School, our organization has grown in size and scope, expanding both our services and our reach to meet the changing needs of our community.

We believe Frances would be proud of the dynamic, holistic organization that is Chimes Family of Services—and during this Women’s History Month, we honor her vision, her passion and her trailblazing persistence.

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