Archives Resources

UWRF Series 175


Collection Title: Founding of the River Falls State Normal School

Dates: 1870-1875; 1897

Location: 16/C/2

Extent: 0.2 c.f. 1 Oversized Item, (1/2 a.b.)

Processed By: re-processed, 2019 Morgan Paavola


Administrative/Biographical History:

On September 2, 1875, The State Normal School at River Falls was formally dedicated. Part of the National Normal School Movement that began in the 1830’s, in response to growing concern over the shortcomings of American common schools, specifically schools to teach teachers. Citizens of the Village of River Falls, along with surrounding townships, began to express interest in having a Normal School in the area. In January 1870, some 1,000 voters signed a petition requesting the state legislature “to pass an enabling act allowing River Falls and surrounding communities a tax of $20,000 to contribute to the establishment of the next State Normal School to be located in River Falls.

Obtaining the forth Normal School at River Falls was not without its challenges, but River Falls prevailed. Their plights however were not over; on November 29, 1897, a fire broke out and destroyed the only building. While classes resumed the following day, there was still talk of relocating the school to neighboring communities. Once again, River Falls prevailed and a new building, South Hall, was completed the following year.

 (King, James T., and Wyman, Walker D. Centennial History: The University of Wisconsin-River Falls, 1874-1974. River Falls, Wis.: U of Wisconsin-River Falls, 1975)


Scope & Content:

This collection is arranged chronologically, and consists of the original, and earliest documents related to the founding of what is now known as the University of Wisconsin – River Falls.

The collection includes, but is not limited to, letters signed by local community members to petition the state for the establishment of the normal school, local laws, and newspaper clippings. The petition itself is encapsulated in a glass frame; photocopies have been made and placed in the collection container.



Teachers College

Community Involvement

Board of Regents – Wisconsin

Event - Fire




1/1       Chapter 431, Local Laws, (1870)

1/2       Petition Letter (1870)

1/3       Petition, Photocopy (1870)      

1/4       List of Subscribers to buy land for Normal School Site (c. 1870)

1/5       News Articles – Normal School Fire (November 29, 1897)

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