Platteville Normal School
Ancestry.com has placed a digital versions of the 1899 and 1909 Silver-Tips and the 1913 and 1914 Pioneer online. I visited the Southwest Wisconsin Room at Wisconsin-Platteville in 2012. The archives there provided the football photo. For a photo of Rountree Hall, see the Wisconsin Mines entry.
Platteville Normal School is the oldest state teachers college in Wisconsin, founded in 1866 with five teachers and 60 students. By 1913 the Pioneer, shows a student enrollment of 266—91 graduates, 80 Juniors, 37 Sophomores, 25 Freshmen and 33 sub-Freshmen. These were taught by a faculty of 32. In addition to traditional liberal arts and education courses, the faculty offered classes in driver training, manual arts, and domestic sciences.
Platteville Normal School offered a rich co-curricular life. The Philadelphian Society for men and the Athanaeum Society for women were active literary societies. The school was strong in music with an orchestra and a band; these combined with vocal groups to perform an annual oratorio. Additionally, PNS had intercollegiate debate teams, a school newspaper and yearbook, and drama. The campus had a chapter of the YWCA and numerous student clubs.
In 1925 Wisconsin designated its normal schools as state teachers colleges and empowered them to offer Bachelor’s degrees, so Platteville Normal School became Platteville State Teachers College in 1926 and then Wesconsin State College, Platteville in 1951. In 1959 it was merged with the neighboring Wisconsin School of Mines, acquiring its present name, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, in 1971.
Bricks and Mortar
The original home of Platteville Normal School was Rountree Hall, which had previously housed Platteville Academy. In 1907 PNS moved to a new location on Main Street, leaving Rountree Hall to the newly createdWisconsin Mining Trades School.
Another landmark building on the PNS campus was Ullrich Hall, the Agriculture and Mechanical Arts Building. Built in 1916, it was placed on the National Register of Historical Places in 1985 before being renovated in 2003-2004. Other early PNS campus buildings such as Doudna Hall and Ulsvick Hall have been renovated and are part of the UW-P campus.
Main Hall was razed in the 1980’s to make room for the new Center for the Arts. (Silver-Tips, <interactive.ancestry.com>)
Team name: Early on newspapers referred to teams as Teachers or Peds. Pioneers came around 1934
Colors: Blue and white
Early yearbooks show that PNS played intercollegiate sports in football, basketball and baseball. The College Football Data Warehouse shows football teams from 1895. In the early years their opponents were drawn from both the collegiate and high school ranks, with Whitewater Normal being the most consistent opponent. In 1913 PNS became a charter member of the State Normal Conference. Along with Milwaukee, Oshkosh, and Whitewater, PNS played in the Southern Division of the conference.
PNS teams were generally mediocre in football until the 1950’s. In a six-year period, 1952-57, they compiled a 32-6-2 record, winning or sharing four conference championships. The 1953 team was undefeated.
Prior to their merger with Wisconsin School of Mines, PNS also experienced some success in basketball. Both the 1958 and 1959 teams qualified for the NAIA tournament in Kansas City. The 1958 team defeated Austin College of Texas before losing to Youngstown; the 1959 team lost to Georgia Teachers College.
Early yearbooks suggest that there was a strong interest in women’s basketball—especially at the intramural and class level. In 1909 some attempt was made to schedule games with other schools.
The 1906 PNS football team. That team lost to both Beloit and now-Division I Northern Illinois. (Courtesy of University of Wisconsin-Platteville: Southwest Wisconsin Room.