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University History

How Did Winona Normal Get Started?

On August 2, 1858 the Minnesota state government was just 93 days old.  On the suggestion of Dr. John D. Ford of Winona, it enacted legislation establishing a normal school system, with an institution going to the first city that came up with $5,000 in donations of money or land to erect buildings and support professors.  Almost overnight, Ford secured $7,000 from his fellow citizens. With the agreement of the state legislature and Governor Henry Sibley, the first public teacher training institution west of the Mississippi was located in Winona. Winona State Normal School was born that day, 150 years ago.

What is a Normal School?

A normal school, or teachers college, was an educational institution for training teachers. Selected individuals were trained in the basic skills of reading, writing, arithmetic and related subjects with the thought that those individuals could then pass that knowledge on to groups of children for their improvement and enlightenment. 

The normal school is said to have been started in France, around 1685 with the establishment of the “Ecole Normale” at Rheims. Founded by Abbè de la Salle, it became the famous Christian Brothers School, forerunner of the system of schools still operating under the aegis of that same Catholic order today. 

Rev. James G. Carter is credited as the “father of the normal school” in America. As a member of the Massachusetts Legislature, he sought to divert Massachusetts’ share of surplus revenue to the cause of education. The passage by the Massachusetts’ Legislature of the Normal School Act of 1838 was said to be due solely to his efforts. 

In accordance with this act, the first normal school under state auspices in America was opened in Lexington, Massachusetts, July 3, 1839. 

Today, the function of Normal Schools has been taken up by undergraduate and graduate schools of education. 

 

A Brief History of Winona State University

1858 - Following establishment of a normal school system by the legislature, local citizens quickly donate over $7,000 in money and land to support the first school in Winona

1860 - Classes begin at Winona State Normal School with John Ogden as principal

1862 - The school closes for nearly three years because of the Civil War, reopening in 1864 with William Phelps as principal

1866 - The first class of 14 graduates

1869 - The normal school’s first permanent building, College Hall, is dedicated

1880 - Irwin Shepard, who won the Congressional Medal of Honor for heroism during the Civil War, is named Winona State Normal School’s first principal to be called President

1908 - Winona State celebrates its first 50 years; a year later the Phelps School, a model school for training aspiring teachers, opens

1917 - Classes are first offered for students in Rochester

1921 - After winning authorization to grant the bachelor’s degree, the normal school becomes Winona State Teachers College

1958 - The institution celebrates its centennial: renamed Winona State College a year earlier, to reflect an expanded mission and academic program

1975 - The school becomes Winona State University

Today - The University is structured into five colleges:  Business, Education, Liberal Arts, Nursing and Health Sciences, and Science and Engineering. It is the oldest member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system.

Today - Three campuses now comprise the University:  the original Winona campus, the Winona West campus, and the WSU-Rochester Center campus

The mission of the University is to educate and enlighten our citizenry at a distinctive institution:  a community of learners improving our world.

 

 

  

University History

How Did Winona Normal Get Started?

On August 2, 1858 the Minnesota state government was just 93 days old.  On the suggestion of Dr. John D. Ford of Winona, it enacted legislation establishing a normal school system, with an institution going to the first city that came up with $5,000 in donations of money or land to erect buildings and support professors.  Almost overnight, Ford secured $7,000 from his fellow citizens. With the agreement of the state legislature and Governor Henry Sibley, the first public teacher training institution west of the Mississippi was located in Winona. Winona State Normal School was born that day, 150 years ago.

What is a Normal School?

A normal school, or teachers college, was an educational institution for training teachers. Selected individuals were trained in the basic skills of reading, writing, arithmetic and related subjects with the thought that those individuals could then pass that knowledge on to groups of children for their improvement and enlightenment. 

The normal school is said to have been started in France, around 1685 with the establishment of the “Ecole Normale” at Rheims. Founded by Abbè de la Salle, it became the famous Christian Brothers School, forerunner of the system of schools still operating under the aegis of that same Catholic order today. 

Rev. James G. Carter is credited as the “father of the normal school” in America. As a member of the Massachusetts Legislature, he sought to divert Massachusetts’ share of surplus revenue to the cause of education. The passage by the Massachusetts’ Legislature of the Normal School Act of 1838 was said to be due solely to his efforts. 

In accordance with this act, the first normal school under state auspices in America was opened in Lexington, Massachusetts, July 3, 1839. 

Today, the function of Normal Schools has been taken up by undergraduate and graduate schools of education. 

 

A Brief History of Winona State University

1858 - Following establishment of a normal school system by the legislature, local citizens quickly donate over $7,000 in money and land to support the first school in Winona

1860 - Classes begin at Winona State Normal School with John Ogden as principal

1862 - The school closes for nearly three years because of the Civil War, reopening in 1864 with William Phelps as principal

1866 - The first class of 14 graduates

1869 - The normal school’s first permanent building, College Hall, is dedicated

1880 - Irwin Shepard, who won the Congressional Medal of Honor for heroism during the Civil War, is named Winona State Normal School’s first principal to be called President

1908 - Winona State celebrates its first 50 years; a year later the Phelps School, a model school for training aspiring teachers, opens

1917 - Classes are first offered for students in Rochester

1921 - After winning authorization to grant the bachelor’s degree, the normal school becomes Winona State Teachers College

1958 - The institution celebrates its centennial: renamed Winona State College a year earlier, to reflect an expanded mission and academic program

1975 - The school becomes Winona State University

Today - The University is structured into five colleges:  Business, Education, Liberal Arts, Nursing and Health Sciences, and Science and Engineering. It is the oldest member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system.

Today - Three campuses now comprise the University:  the original Winona campus, the Winona West campus, and the WSU-Rochester Center campus

The mission of the University is to educate and enlighten our citizenry at a distinctive institution:  a community of learners improving our world.