“Normal School”

A hundred years ago, teachers colleges were called “normal schools.” You had to get approval from the state and as of the early 1890s, San Diego County did not yet have such a school.

“The movement to secure a State Normal School for San Diego was undertaken in 1894,” according to William E. Smythe’s A History of San Diego: 1542-1908. That movement was “due primarily to the great expense and inconvenience experienced by San Diego families in sending their children to the State Normal School at Los Angeles and other institutions throughout Southern California. This expense was estimated at $2,750 per month, and it was obvious that such conditions could not continue indefinitely.”

The first San Diego Normal School opened in May 1899 in a stately building in University Heights. Below is a photo from Smythe’s  book:


Growing enrollment would eventually result in movement to a new campus in Mission Valley in 1931, along with a new name, San Diego State Teachers College. We know it today as San Diego State University.

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2 thoughts on ““Normal School”

  1. My Grandmother, Mary (Frank) vanDam graduated from the San Diego Normal School! Either in 1912 or 1914. Thank you for the memories!

    • You’re quite welcome. And all of us who love history owe thanks to your grandmother for her work in preserving the history of our community. Her book, As I Remember Poway is an invaluable source for historians.

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