State Normal School/New York State College

A Revolutionary School

The University at Albany's founding

May 7, 1844, the State Normal School was created in Albany, NY as the first State School in New York. Its purpose was to train teachers to work at the Common Schools in New York. The first principal was David Page, who worked heavily in the structure of the curriculum. This curriculum would not change until 1890. In addition, Page worked to achieve legislation which would allow the students to receive diplomas along with teaching certificates to teach in New York.

The first classes took place in December of 1844. However, this hall was removed in the 1960s. The first classes seemed very different than classes today. There were only twenty nine students at the school, and two faculty members, one of which was the principal and the other who was George R. Perkins. That number quickly increased to ninety eight. It has been noted that there was an equal ratio of men to women in the school. Thirty four students graduated as the first class in 1845.

In April of 1845, these students had to sign a “Declaration of Teaching,” vowing to only teach in New York schools post-graduation. A month later, the school selected its first librarian, who was a student. In early 1848, Principal David Page died, and was replaced by Perkins. Perkins remained principal until 1852. In April of 1848, the Governor of New York State agreed that there should be a permanent school building for the State Normal School. It replaced an old fire house on Lodge Street, as seen on the tour.

Following, the State Normal School continued to receive praise and proved itself as a revolutionary institution. In 1849, legal action was taken to point out that these graduates were extremely qualified teachers. A year later, legislation was signed to allow “Indian youth” to be taught at the State Normal School, and twenty five were enrolled until 1853, when the order was revoked. In 1880, Kate Stoneman who taught and graduated at the State Normal School, made extreme improvements for women. She lobbied the state government to allow women to be able to vote for school boards, and be able to take the bar test in order to become a lawyer. Following, Stoneman attended Albany Law School and was the first women to get her law degree for the institution. The school also continued to add new courses, such as Physical Education and even an Orchestra.

In March, 1890, the school’s name was changed to the New York State Normal College. Later that year, the first Greek organization, the Delta Omega sorority, was founded. The school further continued to improve Years later, in 1914, the school changed its name to focus on the training of teachers. It became the New York State College for Teachers. The University at Albany considers this school their roots, and even has an “1844 Society” where they hold exclusive events for their most loyal donors. This 1844 focuses on the first year the school was established.

Street Address:

Lodge and Howard Street [map]

Cite this Page:

“State Normal School/New York State College,” Albany Walks for Health, accessed December 13, 2018, http://www.albanywalksforhealth.com/items/show/177.

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