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State Normal and Industrial School

Ellendale, North Dakota



Trinity Bible College has occupied the old N&I campus for almost 40 years.  The person in the Visitor’s Center and I twisted and turned an N&I map, trying to fit it over the present campus. Finally, we determined that at least the women’s dormitory was a survivor from N&I days, so I photographed it.


According to the Online Dakota Information Network, the only N&I yearbooks in existence are located at Grand Forks and Bismarck.  But before leaving town, I asked at the Ellendale Public Library and was directed to a shelf containing all of the yearbooks.  Never underestimate the holdings of a small-town public library. 


North Dakota Normal and Industrial School was constitutionally established as State Industrial School in 1889, with 40,000 acres of land to pay for its maintenance.  The school actually opened ten years later.  Its purpose was to provide instruction in wood and iron work and other manual skills as well as cooking and sewing and domestic economy. In 1916 the school added a “normal course.” Known as N&I for most of its history, Ellendale became a branch campus of the University of North Dakota in 1965 so was known finally as Ellendale Center-University of North Dakota.


N&I remained a small school.  The 1942 Snitcher shows an enrollment of fewer than 200, but most students were involved in campus activities.  N&I sponsored four academic clubs, three religious organizations, four musical groups and a literary society.


A fire in 1970 destroyed the main building, and so the state closed the college at the end of that school year. 

Bricks and Mortar

Records of 1919 state that the campus consisted of five “commodious and modern” buildings.  These included Carnegie Hall, the main building; Manual Training Building; Dakota Hall, the dormitory for “young ladies”; the Armory and Gymnasium; and the Engine Laboratory.  Carnegie Hall burned in 1970.  The remainder of the campus was purchased by Trinity Bible College for one dollar.  TBC has occupied the campus since 1972 and largely rebuilt it.


Photos from the 1947 Snitcher show the central campus with temporary housing added to accommodate post-World War II students. 


A 2009 photo of old Dakota Hall, now called Davidson Hall, the freshman women’s dormitory on the TBC campus. 



      Team name: Dusties

      Colors:  Blue and Gold


According to the College Football Data Warehouse, State Normal and Industrial School fielded a team as early as 1904.  Early on, because of its border location, N&I played schools in both North and South Dakota, having strong rivalries with Aberdeen Normal (now Northern State) and the defunct Redfield College in South Dakota as well as North Dakota neighbors Jamestown College and State College of Science at Wahpeton.  Later N&I became a member of the North Dakota Collegiate Conference with Jamestown, the normal schools at Valley City, Mayville, Minot and Dickinson along with the School of Science and the School of Forestry at Bottineau. 


Through the years, State Normal and Industrial School experienced few successful seasons.  However, the 1948 Snitcher boasted that “National press dispatches carried the name of the N-I . . . over the land in 1947.”  That year the Dusties won their first five games, finishing 5-1 overall, good for a second place finish in the conference.


The 1917-18 Dusties compiled an 8-3 record in basketball.  Image from Snitcher  (;view=2up;seq=82 accessed 1-22-2017

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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