On October 5, 1852, State Normal School, the first of Michigan’s state-supported teacher training schools and the first of its kind west of the Allegheny Mountains, was dedicated at Ypsilanti.
A normal school had been proposed in both houses of the state Legislature in 1848, but failed to gain traction. The following year, an act calling for “the instruction of persons both male and female in the art of teaching, and in all the various branches that pertain to a good common school education; also, to give instructions in the mechanic arts, and in the arts of husbandry and agricultural chemistry, in the fundamental laws of the United States” was passed.
Ypsilanti donated four acres and another four were purchased. Other locations considered were Niles, Gull Prairie near Kalamazoo, Jackson and Marshall.
The original Normal School.
Michigan State Normal School was renamed Michigan State Normal College in 1899, Eastern Michigan College in 1956 and Eastern Michigan University in 1959.
The first graduating class, 1854, consisted of three people and for the next decade, no graduating class had more than two dozen students. Today, EMU has more than 22,000 students.
Michigan Historical Calendar courtesy of the Clarke Historical Library at Central Michigan University.
Zlati Meyer, “This week in Michigan history“, Detroit Free Press, October 5, 2014