In 1795, the École normale supérieure was founded in Paris, France, as one of the earliest schools focused on training teachers. Teacher training schools that later opened in the United States adopted the name "normale" and called themselves “normal” schools. In this case, "normal" refers to specific standards or norms that everyone at the school would be taught, in order to ensure every teacher was trained to teach the same material to their students.
When Towson University was originally founded in 1866, it began life as the Maryland State Normal School (MSNS). MSNS began as a two-year co-educational program for students who had completed at least an eighth-grade education. When students graduated, they received a teaching certificate that allowed them to teach elementary students accross in the state. As education standards progressed, the program later evolved to keep up with teaching trends.
The school remained a normal school until 1935 when, thanks to the efforts of State Superintendent of Schools Albert S. Cook, it transitioned to a teachers college with the ability to award four-year baccalaureate degrees to graduates.
Read More: University Name Changes
written by Felicity Knox, archives associate, Spring 2022.