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Hamersly Library

David Truman Stanley

1882 - 1889


David Truman Stanley was born February 21, 1848, near Terra Haute, Indiana. Stanley moved to Edgar County, Illinois with his parents when he was a small boy and, in 1856, the family relocated to Lindley, Missouri. Stanley began teaching school in 1866 at a small school in Lindley, Missouri. In 1868, he enrolled in Kirksville Normal School in Kirksville, Missouri, and graduated from the institution in 1870. That same year, he married Mary Bristow, became an ordained minister in the Christian Church, and accepted a teaching position at Princeton High School in Princeton, Missouri. Stanley was selected as the high school’s principal in 1871, and, in 1872 when the high school became Princeton College, he was hired as its first president. Stanley’s tenure at Princeton College was short and, in 1872 he made the trek to Corvallis, Oregon, to be editor of the Christian Messenger. The Christian Messenger was a publication of the Christian Church in Oregon, and had previously been edited and published by TF Campbell, then president of the Christian College in Monmouth. By May of 1877, Stanley was on the mathematics faculty of the Christian College in Monmouth.


Stanley taught at the Christian College until 1880, when he resigned to become a railroad engineer. He worked on several projects including locating a route for the railroad through the Cascade Mountains and building a line from Corvallis to Newport. Stanley returned to Corvallis in 1882 after finishing his railroad projects, and purchased the printing plant of the Christian Messenger. Stanley resumed editing and distributing the publication, a vocation he would pursue throughout his life. Stanley was appointed as president of the Christian College in May of 1882, replacing the retiring TF Campbell. Stanley inherited an institution with dropping enrolling and rising debt, and the new president immediately sought to increase enrollment. Stanley, the first president to graduate from a normal school, lobbied the state government to designate the campus in Monmouth as a normal school. In October of 1882, the Oregon governor signed the legislation renaming Christian College as the Oregon State Normal School (OSNS). Stanley also oversaw construction, financed with private donations as the school still received no state funds, of the Bell Tower and South Wing of Campbell Hall. The Bell Tower and South Wing, finished in 1889, were destroyed by the Columbus Day Storm of 1962 and were replaced by the Humanities and Social Sciences Building in 1965.


President Stanley retired from OSNS in 1889 but remained very active in his “retirement.” He immediately returned to publishing and editing his newspaper in Corvallis, renaming it the Pacific Christian and, later The Harbinger. Stanley consolidated The Harbinger with a similar Christian Church newspaper in 1893, and moved to California to publish the paper. Stanley sold the newspaper in 1895. He next purchased a book publishing company in New York, New York, only to sell it a year later to return to school. Stanley attended Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, and received his law degree in 1897. Afterwards, he earned a medical degree from Barnes University in St. Louis, Missouri, and worker for several years in the medical field. Stanley died in July 1917.


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