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Marion Normal College

Marion, Indiana



The 1910 Mississinewa, the school yearbook, is available through Ancestry.  WikiMarion contains a short history of Marion Normal.  The Indianapolis Journal covered some school events.  The ad is from the 1910 Educator-Journal, which with Teacher’s Journal, contained articles about the school.


The roots of Marion Normal College are traced to Thomas Diggs Tharp, who opened a normal college in his own home in 1880.  Through the 1880’s under Tharp and his successor Dr. Joseph Tingley, the school made little progress.  This changed when Dr. T. W. Johnson purchased it and brought in Professor A. Jones as president. In 1890 the Indianapolis Journal described Marion Normal as being in its second year with over 100 students.


The 1892 commencement shows the breadth of the school curriculum: five students graduated that year from the business program, three from commercial, two each from the scientific and normal programs and one from Music. Each year newspapers and school journals note, “The year just closed has been the most prosperous in the history of the institution.”  With the new building, enrollment reached 250 in 1894.  In 1900 a Law department had been added, with one female in the graduating class in 1901.  Enrollment had reached one thousand by 1903; the graduating class of 1910 contained 112 names.  Marion continued to add programs to refine its role in the community and state.  Among new programs were oratory, telegraphy, and penmanship--as well as high school and preparatory departments.  An ad in the Mississinewa shows 12 departments. 


In 1910 the students began the Criterion, a 32-page publication.  But despite departments of oratory and music, the Mississinewa shows no student organizations in those areas.  The only extracurricular activities shown are religious ones—Y.M.C.A., Y.W.C.A. and Bible Study.


In 1912 President C.W. Boucher accepted an offer from Muncie interests to merge Marion Normal College with National Manual Training Corporation, the Indiana Manual Training Company, and the Muncie Conservatory of Music, to become the Muncie Normal Institute, located in Muncie.  Foreclosed in 1917, Muncie Normal was purchased by the Ball Brothers and given to the state.  That new school eventually became Ball State University.

John Wesley Administration Building of Indiana Wesleyan University. Image by Manutdglory.

Bricks and Mortar

Under Dr. Tingley, Marion Normal College moved to 38th and Washington, an area known as “The Triangle.”  In 1890 the Indianapolis Journal describes the campus as having “splendid buildings, a fine library, the latest and best improved apparatus.”  A new administration building was added in 1894, utilizing local labor and materials. The Fourth of July dedication attracted a crowd so large that many had to be turned away.  The building featured electric lights, gas heat and the latest equipment.  Five hundred building lots adjoined the campus. These sold for $100 each and carried the privilege of using the new $5,000 school library.


As enrollment approached 1,000, Tate Hall was added in 1899.  This was a classical four-story building made of pressed bricks.  One entire floor became home to business classes 


When Boucher moved the college to Muncie in 1912, the campus quickly became home to a new Marion Normal Institute.  Then in 1920 the Indiana Conference of the Wesleyan Methodist Church moved the Fairmount Bible School to the Marion campus.  In 1988 it took the name of Indiana Wesleyan University. The old administration building, now known as John Wesley Administration Building, is the only remaining Marion Normal College building


        School colors: By the Mississinewa cover, school colors were likely Gold and possibly Maroon


Despite high student numbers, Marion Normal College seems to have had little in the way of intercollegiate sports programs. College Football Data Warehouse credits the school with games in both 1889 and 1891, but I can find only one.  In 1889 Marion Normal and Fairmount Academy played to a scoreless tie at Fairmount.


The 1910 Mississinewa shows a women’s basket ball “club” of 19 members and a tennis “club”   composed of nine men. It shows a base ball “team” of twelve men but no record of opponents or games. 

1910 Marion Normal base ball team.  Image from the Mississinewa

Note: Images are used in accordance with their “terms of use” as I understand those terms.  Recopying or republishing these images may be restricted or forbidden.

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