I remember hearing, when I attended Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State University), that the school started as a normal school, but I never knew for sure exactly what a normal school was. After looking the term up, I can say that a normal school was school designed to train students to become teachers. It came from the French term "ecole normale," and such schools were meant to establish certain "norms" or standards in the teaching profession. Thus, the word "normal." The normal school, officially called the Fourth District State Normal School, was established in 1905 (first classes in 1906). It became Southwest Missouri Teachers College in 1919. The name changed again in 1945 to Southwest Missouri State College and yet again in 1972 when the "College" part of the name became "University." Finally, in 2005 the institution received its current name, Missouri State University.
So, the current university has gone through quite a few incarnations, and, actually, even the State Normal School had a forerunner, called Springfield Normal School. It was a private institution founded in 1894 and located at the corner of Cherry and Pickwick. Like most normal schools of the day, it was a two-year institution, and it offered only one degree, a master of pedagogy. Springfield Normal School merged with the Fourth District Normal School when the latter opened in 1906, and, in fact, classes for the State Normal School were held in the old Springfield Normal School building for the first couple of years (until the building that is now known on the MSU campus as Carrington Hall was completed in 1909).
Labels: Missouri State University