“The Masses and Not the Classes”: A Tradition of Welcoming Nontraditional Students

  • Christine A. Ogren


During their first three decades of existence, state normal schools were on shaky ground. They struggled against public skepticism and scrutiny, limited state funding, and the popularity of teacher education in other types of institutions. Making only small advances toward developing and teaching educational theory, normals were successful in fulfilling their intention to instill their students with a sense of teaching as a calling. They also began—for the most part unintentionally—to expose their students, many of whom would not otherwise have had access to advanced education, to a wider intellectual world. Beginning in the 1870s, these intentional and unintentional successes of the early years became defining characteristics of the state normal schools. Between the 1870s and the 1900s, state normals found themselves on much firmer ground as they gained in number and size and their opposition faded somewhat. In many ways, this 40-year period would be the heyday of the state normal schools, when they offered a unique educational environment for a distinct student body. The normals not only attracted students who a century later would have earned the label “nontraditional,” but they also served these students quite effectively. S. Y. Gillan, who graduated from Illinois State Normal University, summed up the “democratic spirit” of the normal: “it was a school of the people existing for and representing the masses and not the classes.”1


Teacher Education Black Student White Student African American Student Normal School 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

2 “The Masses and Not the Classes”: A Tradition of Welcoming Nontraditional Students

  1. 2.
    Carl F. Kaestle, Pillars of the Republic: Common Schools and American Society, 1780–1860 (New York: Hill and Wang, 1983), epilogue;Google Scholar
  2. David Tyack, The One Best System: A History of American Urban Education (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1974), part II;Google Scholar
  3. James D. Anderson, The Education of Blacks in the South, 1860–1935 (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1988), chapters 1 and 5;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Robert H. Wiebe, The Search for Order, 1877–1920 (New York: Hill and Wang, 1967);Google Scholar
  5. Burton J. Bledstein, The Culture of Professionalism: The Middle Class and the Development of Higher Education in America (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1976)Google Scholar
  6. 4.
    Kent D. Beeler and Philip C. Chamberlain, “‘Give a Buck To Save a College’: The Demise of Central Normal College,” Indiana Magazine of History 57: 2 (June 1971): 117–128;Google Scholar
  7. Anthony O. Edmonds and E. Bruce Geelhoed, Ball State University: An Interpretive History (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2001), 52;Google Scholar
  8. Travis Edwin Smith, The Rise of Teacher Training in Kentucky (Nashville, TN: George Peabody College for Teachers, 1932), 149–153, 161–162; Anderson, The Education of Blacks, 134;Google Scholar
  9. Titus Brown, “A New England Missionary and African-American Education in Macon: Raymond G. Von Tobel at the Ballard Normal School, 1908–1935,” The Georgia Historical Quarterly 82:2 (Summer 1998): 283–304;Google Scholar
  10. Joe M. Richardson, “Allen Normal School: Training ‘Leaders of Righteousness,’ 1885–1933,” The Journal of Southwest Georgia History 12 (Fall 1997): 1–26;Google Scholar
  11. Willard S. Elsbree, The American Teacher: Evolution of a Profession in a Democracy (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, [1939] 1970), 329–330, 365;Google Scholar
  12. Jurgen Herbst, And Sadly Teach: Teacher Education and Professionalization in American Culture (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1989), 100–102, chapter 6;Google Scholar
  13. Pamela Claire Hronek, “Women and Normal Schools: Tempe Normal, a Case Study, 1885–1925” (Ph.D. diss., Arizona State University, 1985), 74–75;Google Scholar
  14. Melvin Frank Fiegel, “A History of Southwestern State College, 1903–1953” (Ed.D. diss., Oklahoma State University, 1968), 2;Google Scholar
  15. Joe C. Jackson, “Summer Normals in Indian Territory After 1898,” The Chronicles of Oklahoma 37 (Autumn 1959): 307–329;Google Scholar
  16. R. McLaran Sawyer, “No Teacher for the School: The Nebraska Junior Normal School Movement,” Nebraska History 52:2 (Summer 1971): 191–203;Google Scholar
  17. Andrea Radke, “‘I Am Very Aspiring’: Muirl Dorrough & the Alliance Junior Normal School,” Nebraska History 81 (Spring 2002): 2–11Google Scholar
  18. 6.
    Charles A. Harper, Development of the Teachers College in the United States, with Special Reference to the Illinois State Normal University (Bloomington, IL: McKnight & McKnight, 1935), 90–91Google Scholar
  19. 7.
    Irving H. Hart, The First 75 Years (Cedar Falls, IA: Iowa State Teachers College, 1951), 6–7, State Superintendent Abernathy quoted on 6Google Scholar
  20. 9.
    Walter H. Ryle, Centennial History of the Northeast Missouri State Teachers College (Kirksville, MO: Northeast Missouri State Teachers College, 1972), 71–77;Google Scholar
  21. Susan Vaughn, “The History of State Teachers College, Florence, Alabama,” Bulletin of the State Teachers College, Florence, Alabama 18 (Supplemental, 193?): 1–13;Google Scholar
  22. Robin O. Harris, “‘To Illustrate the Genius of Southern Womanhood’: Julia Flisch and Her Campaign for the Higher Education of Georgia Women,” The Georgia Historical Quarterly 80 (Fall 1996): 515;Google Scholar
  23. Elisabeth Ann Bowles, A Good Beginning: The First Four Decades of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1967), 7; Fiegel, “A History,” 4–13;Google Scholar
  24. James H. Thomas and Jeffrey A. Hurt, “Southwestern Normal School: The Founding of an Institution,” The Chronicles of Oklahoma 54 (Winter 1976–1977): 462–463;Google Scholar
  25. Jerry G. Nye, Southwestern Oklahoma State University: The First 100 Years (Weatherford, OK: Southwestern Oklahoma State University, 2001), 9–13Google Scholar
  26. 10.
    Rudolph Jones, “The Development of Negro State Colleges and Normal Schools in North Carolina,” The Quarterly Review of Higher Education Among Negroes (Charlotte, NC: Johnson C. Smith University) 6 (April 1938): 132–133, 136;Google Scholar
  27. Mark Andrew Huddle, “To Educate a Race: The Making of the First State Colored Normal School, Fayetteville, North Carolina, 1865–1877,” The North Carolina Historical Review 74:2 (April 1997): 140, 150–153;Google Scholar
  28. E. Louise Murphy, “Origin and Development of Fayetteville State Teachers College, 1867–1959—A Chapter in the History of the Education of Negroes in North Carolina” (Ph.D. diss., New York University, 1960), 70–90, 97;Google Scholar
  29. Arkansas legislation quoted in Thomas Rothrock, “Joseph Carter Corbin and Negro Education in the University of Arkansas,” The Arkansas Historical Quarterly 30 (Winter 1971): 282;Google Scholar
  30. Willis L. Brown and Janie M. McNeal-Brown, “Oklahoma’s First Comprehensive University: Langston University, The Early Years,” The Chronicles of Oklahoma 74: 1 (1996): 35–43;Google Scholar
  31. Second Morrill Act quoted in Christopher J. Lucas, American Higher Education: A History (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1994), 164Google Scholar
  32. See also Frank Bowles and Frank A. DeCosta, Between Two Worlds: A Profile of Negro Higher Education (New York: McGraw Hill Book Company, 1971), 31–32Google Scholar
  33. 11.
    Roy Wilson McNeal, Southern Oregon College Cavalcade (Ashland, OR: Southern Oregon College Foundation, 1972), 7–11;Google Scholar
  34. William Pierce Tucker, “Ashland Normal School, 1869–1930,” The Oregon Historical Quarterly 32 (March and June 1931): 46–47;Google Scholar
  35. Ellis A. Stebbins, The OCE Story (Monmouth, OR: Oregon College of Education, 1973), 33–37;Google Scholar
  36. John C. Almack, “History of Oregon Normal Schools,” The Quarterly of the Oregon Historical Society 21 (June 1920): 112;Google Scholar
  37. Maxine Ollie Merlino, “A History of the California State Normal Schools—Their Origin, Growth, and Transformation into Teachers Colleges” (Ed.D. diss., University of Southern California, 1962), 89–90;Google Scholar
  38. Cecil Dryden, Light for an Empire: The Story of Eastern Washington State College (Cheney, WA: Eastern Washington State College, 1965), 8–16, 30–33Google Scholar
  39. 13.
    Carey W. Brush, In Honor and Good Faith: A History of the State University College at Oneonta, New York (Oneonta, NY: The Faculty-Student Association of State University Teachers College at Oneonta, Inc., 1965), 2;Google Scholar
  40. Bessie L. Park, Cortland—Our Alma Mater: A History of Cortland Normal School and the State University of New York Teachers College at Cortland, 1869–1959 (Cortland, NY, 1960), 46; Ryle, Centennial History, 157–158; Hart, The First 75 Years, 13;Google Scholar
  41. J. Orin Oliphant, History of the State Normal School at Cheney, Washington (Spokane: Inland-American Printing Company, 1924), chapters 3 and 4Google Scholar
  42. 16.
    David Sands Wright, Fifty Years at the Teachers College: Historical and Personal Reminiscences (Cedar Falls, IA: Iowa State Teachers College, 1926), 82, 137;Google Scholar
  43. George Kimball Plochmann, The Ordeal of Southern Illinois University (Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 1957), 15;Google Scholar
  44. Sandra D. Harmon, “‘The Voice, Pen and Influence of Our Women Are Abroad in the Land’: Women and the Illinois State Normal University, 1857–1899,” in Nineteenth-Century Women Learn to Write, ed. Catherine Hobbs (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1995), 203;Google Scholar
  45. William Frederick Hartman, “The History of Colorado State College of Education: The Normal School Period, 1890–1911” (Ph.D. diss., Colorado State College of Education, 1951), 83, 89, newspaper quoted on 90;Google Scholar
  46. Frank A. Cooper, The Plattsburgh Idea in Education, 1889–1964 (Plattsburgh, NY: Plattsburgh College Benevolent and Educational Association, Inc., 1964), 25–26;Google Scholar
  47. S. E. Rothery, “Some Educational Institutions: Pilgrimages About San Jose,” The Overland Monthly 30 (July 1897): 74Google Scholar
  48. 18.
    Barbara Miller Solomon, In the Company of Educated Women: A History of Women and Higher Education in America (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1985), chapters 4–7;Google Scholar
  49. Lynn D. Gordon, Gender and Higher Education in the Progressive Era (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1990), chapter 1;Google Scholar
  50. Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz, Campus Life: Undergraduate Cultures from the End of the Eighteenth Century to the Present (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1987), chapter 9Google Scholar
  51. See also Thomas Woody, A History of Women’s Education in the United States, 2 vols. (New York: Science Press, 1929);Google Scholar
  52. Mabel Newcomer, A Century of Higher Education for American Women (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1959);Google Scholar
  53. Patricia Albjerg Graham, “Expansion and Exclusion: A History of Women and American Higher Education,” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 3 (Summer 1978): 759–773;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Patricia A. Palmieri, “From Republican Motherhood to Race Suicide: Arguments on the Higher Education of Women in the United States, 1820–1920,” in Educating Men and Women Together: Coeducation in a Changing World, ed. Carol Lasser (Urbana: The University of Illinois Press, 1987), 49–64;Google Scholar
  55. Elizabeth Seymour Eschbach, The Higher Education of Women in England and America, 1865–1920 (New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1993);Google Scholar
  56. Charlotte Williams Conable, Women at Cornell: The Myth of Equal Education (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977);Google Scholar
  57. Dorothy Gies McGuigan, A Dangerous Experiment: 100 Years of Women at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI: Center for Continuing Education of Women, 1970)Google Scholar
  58. 26.
    Robert A. Caro, The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Path to Power (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1982), 142;Google Scholar
  59. Morey quoted in C. O. Ruggles, Historical Sketch and Notes: Winona State Normal School, 1860–1910 (Winona, MN: Jones & Kroeger Co., 1910), 210;Google Scholar
  60. J. S. Nasmith, “An Open Letter From J. Nasmith,” Platteville Witness LXIII (April 13, 1932), 2;Google Scholar
  61. newspaper quoted in Irene Goldgraben, “And the Glory of the Latter House Shall Be Greater Than That of the Former,” in And the Glory of the Latter House Shall Be Greater Than That of the Former: An Informal History of Castleton State College, ed. Holman D. Jordan (Castleton, VT: Castleton State College, 1968), 19; Brown, The Rise and Fall, 89; Rogers, Oswego, 58; cheer quoted in The Arkansasyer (Pine Bluff, AR: Faculty of Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical and Normal College) 1 (1928): 1, in “Keepers of the Spirit: The L. A. Davis, Sr. Historical Collection,” Exhibit, Isaac S. Hathaway-John M. Howard Fine Arts Center, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Pine Bluff, AR, May 1995Google Scholar
  62. 32.
    Johnson quoted in Charles H. Coleman, “Eastern Illinois State College: Fifty Years of Public Service,” Eastern Illinois State College Bulletin 189 (January 1, 1950): 65Google Scholar
  63. 51.
    Albert Salisbury, Historical Sketches of the First Quarter-Century of the State Normal School at Whitewater, Wisconsin (Madison, WI: Tracy, Gibbs & Co., 1893), 17Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Christine A. Ogren 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christine A. Ogren

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations