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East Tennessee State Normal School


Historical Note

East Tennessee State Normal School (ETSNS) was one of four Tennessee normal schools (three for white students, one for black students) authorized by the General Education Act of 1909. Five East Tennessee counties competed for the location of the school and Johnson City in Washington County won with a bid of $75,000 in county bonds, $75,000 in city bonds, free lights and water, a promise of paved walkways and streetcar lines to the school grounds, and 120 acres donated by industrialist George L. Carter. The Normal school opened on October 2, 1911 with an enrollment of about 150 students.

The school offered two courses of study: a four-year Academic Course that was open to students who had finished elementary school; and a two-year Normal Course that was open to students who had finished high school. Tuition was free for Tennessee residents and twelve dollars per term for non-residents. The first campus buildings were the main academic building (now Gilbreath Hall), a women’s dormitory, a dining facility, a heating plant, and the president’s residence.

Effective in the fall of 1925, the three Tennessee normal schools for white students were converted to teachers’ colleges and East Tennessee State Normal School became East Tennessee State Teachers College. Sidney Gordon Gilbreath served as the president of ETSNS from 1911 until his resignation on March 15, 1925.

Found in 11 Collections and/or Records:

Franklin P. Baxter Papers

Identifier: AppMs-175
Scope and Contents The Franklin P. Baxter Papers include numerous commercial publications in several different languages, legal documents, correspondence, reports, pamphlets, and a periodical documenting the diverse collecting activities and interests of Franklin Baxter during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In addition to these documents there are several miscellaneous records that were incorporated into the Baxter Collection by the staff of the B. Carroll Reece Museum prior to the...
Dates: 1797-1931

Elma Lillian Rankin Beeson Papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: AppMs-165
Scope and Contents The Elma Lillian Rankin Beeson Papers contain newspaper clippings, class record books, and photographs pertaining to her teaching career at East Tennessee State Normal School. Also included are extensive photographs, postcards and a diary of her 1913 trip to Europe. The papers also contain part of the Rankin family history and several certificates and awards resulting from Beeson's activities involving Tusculum College and various ladies civic clubs.

Dates: 1904 - 1973

C. Hodge Mathes Diary

 Collection — Box: K (Small Collections)
Identifier: UnivRec-856
Scope and Contents The C. Hodge Mathes Diary is a small leather-bound volume in which Mathes tracked his daily activities from January 1 to December 31, 1917. Each entry is only a few sentences, yet rich in detail, often including his daily schedule, his companions and the weather. Much of the activity centers around his life in Johnson City, Tennessee as a faculty member at East Tennessee State Normal School. For example, February 3, 1917 was "coldest morning of winter. [Stoked] furnace at 3:15am. To Normal on...
Dates: 1917

Nora C. Carter Papers

 Collection — Box: B (Small Collections)
Identifier: AppMs-99
Scope and Contents The Nora C. Carter Papers consist of documents relating to her early teaching experience in East Tennessee.
Dates: 1923-1924

Charles Hodge Mathes Memorial Volume: Letters and Memorabilia

 Collection — Box: D (Small Collections)
Identifier: UnivRec-172
Scope and Contents The Charles Hodge Mathes Memorial Volume is a bound volume of thirty original letters from students Mathes taught at the normal school from 1911 to 1915. These students took classes at the normal school while the Science Hill High School building was being constructed. They graduated in 1915 as the first class of the new high school. These letters were specifically written for this commemorative book and presented to Mrs. Mathes in honor of the memory of their teacher. The letters date from...
Dates: 1951

Burr Harrison Photographs

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: AppMs-64
Scope and Contents The Burr Harrison Photographs consist of 380 photographic images (prints and negatives) depicting Johnson City and environs circa 1881-1958. The collection represents only a portion of Harrison's work, as much of it did not survive. The collection centers on photographs of commercial buildings in downtown Johnson City; industries, residences, apartment houses and churches in the city; buildings and activities at Mountain Home; and buildings at East Tennessee State Normal School (ETSNS). Some of...
Dates: 1881-1958

Alta Elizabeth Pardue Keirn Papers

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: AppMs-513
Scope and Contents The bulk of the Alta Elizabeth Pardue Keirn Papers consists of photographs from the early twentieth century, including numerous photographs taken at and near East Tennessee State Normal School where Keirn was a student from 1911-1914. There are also a few documents, including a brief biographical sketch of Keirn by an unknown author.
Dates: 1914-1948

Nola and Robert Kemmer Certificates

Identifier: UnivRec-394
Scope and Contents The Nola and Robert Kemmer Collection consists of subject certificates and diplomas from East Tennessee State Normal School and East Tennessee State College. The diplomas and subject certificates were signed by Normal School President Sidney G. Gilbreath and Dean C. Hodge Mathes. Also included is a United States Food Administration Certificate signed by Gilbreath and by Herbert Hoover, United States Food Administrator; and a State of Tennessee, Department of Education certificate.
Dates: 1911-1928, undated

Lester Moore clippings - in Vertical File

Identifier: AVF-Johnson City (Tenn.)-History-Founding
Scope and Contents The Lester Moore documents consist of a single file folder of photocopies of newsclippings about Henry Johnson and the founding of Johnson City.
Dates: 1930 - 1978

Bethany Mackey Scrapbook

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: AppMs-865
Scope and Contents The Bethany Mackey Scrapbook documents some of the on- and off-campus activities of Bethany Mackey of Cleveland, Tennessee, a 1921 East Tennessee State Normal School (ETSNS) graduate. The scrapbook includes photographs of friends, family, teachers, travels, and campus buildings. Many are identified, including a photograph of an African-American woman labeled only "Aunt Lizzie, the maid." There are several images of an outing to Cranberry, North Carolina. ETSNS president Sidney Gilbreath and...
Dates: 1919-1921, undated

Pearl Templin Rankin Photograph Albums and Diploma

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: AppMs-836
Arrangement The pages of the first album were removed from the album cover and placed in original page order in folders. Loose photographs are grouped together in one folder. The second album was in good condition and remains intact.
Dates: 1919-1924, undated