From “Normal” School to Notable University

Assembly Room, Farmington State Normal School, 1914. The room is now known as Nordica Auditorium.

It’s no surprise that the University of Maine at Farmington is well known in-state and out for its teacher education programs. Established by the Maine State Legislature in 1863 as the Western Maine State Normal School–and renamed in 1889 as Farmington State Normal School–UMF’s original mission was to “train teachers to provide a quality education to children in Maine schools.”

Baby Peter learning to walk, Farmington State Teachers College, ca. 1951. Peter was one of the many “practice babies” that students cared for in the “Cottage Baby” program.

You can read about the myriad unique ways it did just that from the early days onward in a brand new, “mega” exhibit created by UMF History students and staff from the university’s Mantor Library. We Used to Be “Normal”: A History of Farmington State Normal School introduces the visionaries who built the School’s reputation, and covers such unique features as domestic and child-care training (in its “Cottage Baby” program), and extra-curricular activities from athletics to music and theater.

The Library received a 2011 Maine Memory Network grant to research and build the exhibit, part of an effort to highlight UMF’s early history in preparation for its 150th anniversary celebration in 2014. (While the Legislature created the School in 1863, it didn’t officially open its doors until 1864.)

About mainechp

Maine Community Heritage Project at Maine Historical Society
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