July 20 – September 3

The Herbarium

Botany was one of the academic classes taught at Oregon Normal School in the late 1890’s. In these classes students collected local flora, identifying each in intricate detail, pressed the specimen, and created a herbarium. The herbarium was their tool for teaching botany in the public classroom.

The examples of herbariums on display are from 1896 and 1898. Once the exhibit is finished the herbariums can be viewed by appointment only by contacting the Library Reference Desk.

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horizontaldisplay1Early tools for Teaching

In the late 1890s, Oregon Normal School was one of four state institutions which trained public school teachers.

The Oregon Normal School curriculum was divided into a four-year program and a two-year normal school program. The four-year normal program consisted of a one-year sub-normal course of instruction, devoted wholly to the common school subjects; the three remaining years consisted of two years of academic subjects and one of professional studies.

In the catalog for 1882 President Stanley declared:

In the college the studies are pursued from the standpoint of the learner, while in the Normal School, a two-fold view of the subject is obtained: first, from the standpoint of the learner, and then from the standpoint of the teacher. More than this, every recitation is an answer to the question, ‘How shall I teach this subject?’


Early Teacher Training

Beginning in the 1820s, reformers advocated universal access to education and to publicly-funded Normal Schools created in order to train teachers working in ‘common schools.’ Modeled after teacher training schools in Prussia, Holland and France, “Normal Schools” borrowed from the French “Ecole Normale.” The first publicly-funded Normal School opened in Massachusetts in 1839. Most Normal Schools provided only a two-year, post-eighth grade education to prepare teachers for work in the primary grades. In regions where educational opportunities were few, Normal Schools provided a broader curriculum including courses in vocational and agricultural training and liberal studies. Since Normal Schools were often located in rural areas, they provided affordable higher education to those generally excluded by class, race or gender.

Changes in the public school system at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries – the longer school year and the availability of a secondary education to most students – created a need for better-qualified teachers. As a result, many Normal Schools evolved into four-year teachers colleges and finally, liberal arts colleges and universities in which teacher training was only one aspect of the broader curriculum.


The Normal Schools. 19 July 2004.

Harpers, Charles A. A Century of Public Teacher Education. Washington, DC: American Association of Teachers Colleges, 1939.



one year of a sub-normal course devoted wholly to the common school subjects including reading, arithmetic (written and mental), history (U.S. and world), grammar, penmanship, and spelling
two years of academic subjects including algebra, geometry, geography, geology, physics, botany, chemistry, astronomy, zoology, civil government, history (ancient, medieval and modern), English grammar, literature, drawing, vocal music, rhetoric, elocution, physical training, psychology and school law
one year of professional subjects including school economy, manual training, methods in arithmetic, geography, reading, story, language and science and philosophy of education


LOCATION: 1st floor main lobby and 3rd floor lobby.
Curators: Sharon Lehner and Jerrie Lee Parpart