Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
San Jose State Normal School Teaching Tools Collection
View entire collection guide What's This?
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Processing Information
  • Project Information
  • Organizational History
  • Related Material
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: SJSU Special Collections & Archives
    Title: San Jose State Normal School Teaching Tools Collection
    Identifier/Call Number: MSS.2009.02.06
    Physical Description: 17.0 boxes (18.54 linear feet)
    Date (inclusive): 1896-1927
    Abstract: The San Jose State Normal School Teaching Tools Collection (1896-1927), consists of various teaching materials used to educate young children at the Normal Training School. The collection includes Friedrich Froebel's Kindergarten Gifts and Occupations as well as sewing and reading cards and other manipulative objects manufactured by the Milton Bradley Company. The collection is arranged into a single series: Series I. Educational Teaching Tools, 1896-1927.


    The collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright is assigned to the San José State University Library Special Collections and Archives. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Special Collections and Archives as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader. Copyright restrictions also apply to digital reproductions of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.

    Preferred Citation

    San Jose State Normal School Teaching Tools Collection, MSS-2009-02-06, San José State University Library Special Collections and Archives.

    Processing Information

    Collection processed by Lynn Sheehy. Finding aid EAD encoded by Lynn Sheehy. Reviewed by Danelle Moon and Erin Louthen.

    Project Information

    This finding aid was created as part of the Survey and Cataloging Project, a two-year San José State University Library grant project funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. The project began in 2008. The Project Director is Danelle Moon. The Project Archivist is Erin Louthen.

    Organizational History

    In 1857 the San Francisco Board of Education established Minns' Evening Normal School for current and prospective teachers in the city. Named after its principal, George W. Minns, the institution was formally established as the first California State Normal School by the State Legislature in 1862. A decade later, the Legislature voted to move the Normal School to San Jose, and the school relocated to its new home on Washington Square prior to the fall term of 1872. After a fire destroyed the Normal School building in 1880, the Legislature authorized $200,000 to construct a new building on the same site. Completed in 1881, the building was commonly referred to as the Second State Normal School. After several name and curriculum changes, Minns' Normal school now known as San José State University, offer more than 134 bachelor's and master's degrees with 110 concentrations, and is recognized as one of the top public universities granting such degrees in the West.
    In 1898, the Normal School Board of Trustees established a kindergarten training department with a demonstration class. The following year, the San Jose State Normal School kindergarten training school was established, and had a faculty of three, a student body of ten, and a kindergarten group of some seventy children. The kindergarten training school was eventually abandoned the following year due to a Board decision that the expense did not justify the numerical gain, but kindergarten classes continued at the Normal School and enrollment increased throughout the early 1900s.
    Most of the teaching tools in the collection were produced by the well-known Milton Bradley Company, maker of toys and games for children since 1864. Bradley was a firm believer in German educator Friedrich Froebel's then-radical notion of kindergarten as a cornerstone of childhood education, and pushed the idea in America with an almost evangelical zeal. Even though this concept was not yet accepted as a part of the American school system, Bradley manufactured Kindergarten Gifts and Occupations in 1877, using local timber and materials from his home in Springfield, Massachusetts. These gifts (blocks and items to teach basic skills), were added to the company's product offerings even though sales were initially almost non-existent. As kindergarten gained in popularity in the United States, Froebel's Gifts became an industry standard, providing for child's play while at the same time training children in movement dexterity and the laws of nature. The bulk of the San José State Normal School Teaching Tools Collection consists of such Gifts and Occupations, including balls, blocks for building, colored tablets for design, and colored papers to cut and fold.

    Related Material

    Kate Douglas Wiggin Collection, MSS-2008-10-01

    Scope and Content

    The San Jose State Normal School Teaching Tools Collection (1896-1927), consists of a variety of teaching tools used to teach children basic educational skills. The collection includes many examples of Friedrich Froebel's Gifts and Occupations produced by the Milton Bradley Company in the late 1800s. Included in the collection are wooden blocks of various shapes, sewing cards, reading cards, and manipulatives used to teach basic skills. The majority of the collection documents the use of teaching tools at the Normal Training School which existed on the San Jose State campus from 1898 until 1934.


    The collection is arranged into a single series: Series I. Educational Teaching Tools, 1896-1927.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Education, Higher -- California -- San Jose
    Teaching -- Aids and devices -- Specimens
    San José State Normal School -- History
    San José State Teachers College -- History