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Samuel T. Black Samuel T. Black
 


Decades Ago at San Diego State

Special Collections and University Archives take a look back at the university's first president, Samuel T. Black.
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As SDSU welcomes its eighth president, Eliott Hirshman, “Decades Ago” takes a look back at a story about the first president, Samuel T. Black.

A 1914 front page article in the weekly Normal News student newspaper covered Black's life and career, “whom we all delight to honor” as “the founder of the San Diego Normal School.” The article was obliged to review the past history of the Normal School because Black was “so important to the school history that the two cannot be separated.”

About President Black

Black was born in Scotland and came to California in 1868, teaching in rural schools and mining towns. He became a school principal, then Ventura County superintendent of schools, followed by his election as state superintendent of public instruction.

During his tenure the legislature created the Normal School in San Diego and he was selected its first president. The article traces the growth of the school guided by Black’s “personality and wisdom,” covering the opening of the school in the Hill Block and the laying of the cornerstone in 1898 of “a beautiful classical structure.”

“No other Normal School in the state had so auspicious an opening.”

The article overflows with pride and enthusiasm for the new school and “the strenuous, restless spirit of this western civilization” moderated by intelligence and efficiency. The Normal News masthead proudly declared what “The Normal School Stands For … The Elementary School, A Better Rural School, The Peace Movement, and Democracy — but a Democracy Saved by Efficiency.”

The Samuel T. Black Memorial Collection is held in Special Collections and University Archives in Library and Information Access. Campus visitors can view a commemorative statue of Black near the Administration building.

About Decades Ago at San Diego State

The SDSU Library's Department of Special Collections and University Archives presents the weekly series "Decades Ago at San Diego State." Special Collections and University Archives staff members collect articles and photos from archived issues of The Daily Aztec, providing a glimpse of the university's past and its memorable events, people and programs. 

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Decades Ago at San Diego State
Decades Ago: Aug. 31, 2011
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