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Wilson Teachers College

Washington, DC






Wilson Teachers College began as Washington Normal School in 1873, founded as a teacher training school for white students. In the first year, twenty students were admitted; of these, 17 completed the one-year program.   In 1881 requirements were raised so that only high school graduates were admitted.  In 1897 requirements were again raised so that the program required two-year of study.  In the same year the name was changed to Wilson Normal School, in honor of James Ormond Wilson, Superintendent of Washington Public Schools.  In 1929 an act of congress made the school a four-year teachers college.  Graduates now received a Bachelor of Science in Education degree.  It received its first accreditation in 1933.  Listed enrollment was 208.


On May 6, 1918 the Washington Herald reported that the Washington Normal School Community Association had been formed so that the school would be the center for community activities such as adult classes, dramatic and musical performances, dances, lectures, and workshops for the area.  Subsequent newspaper reports indicated that as many as 2,000 persons used the school nightly.


The 1937 yearbook shows a student body of more than 400.  These students had access to the usual student activities in music, drama, and publications. There were four “fraternal” organizations—The Twenty, Phi Sigma Pi, Sigma Sigma Sigma and Sigma Tau Delta.  The Men’s and Women’s Clubs organized many of the social activities for the student body.


In 1955, following Brown vs. Board of Education, Wilson merged with its black counterpart, Miner Teachers College, to form District of Columbia Teachers College.


I was able to buy the Hickory Stick, the 1937 Wilson Teachers College yearbook, on ebay.  The Washington Herald covered some school activities.

Franklin School Building (Agnosticpreacherskid,,_D.C.%29#/media/File:Franklin_School.JPG C-C by 3.0)  Accessed 10-6-2017

Bricks and Mortar

Washington Normal school opened in the Franklin School building on Franklin Square at 13th and K Streets.  That building, constructed in 1869, has a Great Hall seating 1,000.  Declared a National Historic Landmark in 1996, it was used as a homeless shelter 2002-08.  It was occupied again by protesters in 2011.


In 1913 Wilson Normal received a new building located at 1100 Harvard Street. Built in Elizabethan Revival style, the two-story, red brick building measured 300 feet in length.  One half contained the college classrooms; the other half contained the facilities for practice teaching.


After the merger with Miner Teachers College, the Wilson Building was also used both by the new DC Teachers College and by the District of Columbia Public Schools.  In 2001 the building was renovated and leased to Carlos Rosario Career Center and Public Charter School, its current use.





       School Colors: Green and Gold

       Team name: Owls


A quick scan of the 1937 yearbook shows that Wilson Teachers College did not attract many male students, who made up only about 30% of the student body.   As a result, Wilson teams were seldom successful in sports such as football.  College Football Data Warehouse shows that between 1935 and 1955, Wilson teams won only six games.  They most often played against Gallaudet, Shepherd (WV), Shippensburg (PA), Newsport News (VA) Apprentice School, and Delaware Valley (PA).


The 1937 yearbook stated that football had been suspended for two years, allowing the Teachers to concentrate on baseball and basketball.  The 1936-37 basketball team posted a 7-7 record. 


Male athletes who met scholastic and faculty standards could belong to the “W” Club, an organization that attempted to bring intercollegiate and intramural athletics into the social life of W.T.C. 


Female students could belong to the Wilson Women’s Athletic Association, which organized a wide range of intramural sports for women as well as an intercollegiate Hockey Playday and the annual May Day activities.



1936-37 basketball team (Hickory Stick)

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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