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Guide to the San Diego State University Historical Collection
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Historical Note:
  • Access Terms
  • Administrative Information
  • Arrangement of Materials:
  • Scope and Contents

  • Overview of the Collection

    Collection Title: San Diego State University Historical Collection
    Dates: 1898-1952
    Bulk Dates: 1898-1935
    Identification: MS-0293
    Creator: San Diego State University Library
    Physical Description: 35.17 linear ft
    Language of Materials: English
    Repository: Special Collections & University Archives
    5500 Campanile Dr. MC 8050
    San Diego, CA, 92182-8050
    URL: http://library.sdsu.edu/scua
    Email: scref@rohan.sdsu.edu
    Phone: 619-594-6791

    Historical Note:

    Founded March 13, 1897, San Diego State University began as the San Diego Normal School, a training facility for elementary school teachers. A Board of Trustees appointed by the governor held its first meeting on June 3, 1897 to choose a location for the school. A site on Park and El Cajon Boulevards was chosen by the Board which then turned its attention to the construction of the school and the selection of a president. In September of 1898 the Board chose Samuel Black as the new president of the San Diego Normal School.
    During his tenure, Black assembled a faculty with degrees from well known universities to teach a variety of courses including English, mathematics, drawing, history and geography, physiology, sociology, education, biological sciences, physical training, manual training, and household arts. Student enrollment increased from 91 on opening day to nearly 400 the year Black retired. Black served as president from 1898 to 1910.
    Edward L. Hardy was appointed by the Board of Trustees to replace Black as school president in 1910. From 1910 to 1935, President Hardy headed a vigorous administration that oversaw major changes to the fledgling institution. He hired additional faculty during his first two years in office bringing the total number of faculty to 27 in 1912; many of the new faculty had prior experience working in either public schools or other normal schools across the country. W. F. Bliss served as Vice President under President Hardy until 1921. Student organizations which were established during the school's first year continued to thrive under Hardy's administration. Student groups held dances, picnics, plays, carnivals, and other activities. An Associated Students organization was established in 1922 to help organize student groups and activities. By the end of the 1920s, fraternities and sororities had been established as well as intercollegiate sports, thus creating a real sense of collegiate life.
    In 1921, the Normal School became San Diego State Teachers College, a four-year public institution controlled by the State Board of Education. In that same year, the two-year San Diego Junior College, forerunner of today’s local community colleges, became a branch of San Diego State, creating a union that lasted until 1947.
    By the 1920s, San Diego State was already beginning to outgrow its Park Boulevard location. After years of debate, a site was chosen on Mission Palisades in Mission Valley. A committee was established and architects were hired to design the new campus buildings. Ground was broken on October 7, 1929 with major construction expected to be completed in about 250 days. The buildings were finished by September of 1930 and, despite the fact that there was no money left for landscaping, San Diego State moved onto its new campus. Classes began in February of 1931 on the newly completed Montezuma Mesa.
    The library was considered the heart of the new campus after the college's move to Montezuma Mesa. Librarian John Paul Stone was hired in 1930 to help improve the college library. That same year the library acquired the published catalog of the Library of Congress, increased appropriations, improved services, and expanded its hours of operation. In May of 1944, the library acquired its 100,000th book. Library facilities included a main reading room, reference rooms, and a periodical, reserve, and elementary school reading rooms. By the end of World War II, about 8,000 books a year were being added to the collection. By 1946, San Diego State's library ranked in the top two percent of the members of the American Association of Teachers Colleges.
    President Hardy retired in June of 1935. In September of 1935, San Diego State Teachers College became San Diego State College. In addition to the name change, the California legislature encouraged colleges to add liberal arts classes to their curricula.
    After Hardy's retirement, Walter R. Hepner took the helm as president, beginning a 17-year tenure. Under Hepner’s administration (1935-1952), San Diego State became a full-fledged academic institution. Liberal arts programs were expanded and new courses added to the curriculum. President Hepner encouraged the addition of scholarships and enhancement of academic standards for students as well as the growth of student groups and activities. By the end of the 1940s, the faculty had grown to include 230 members. Hepner expanded the pre-existing committee structure so that the faculty could be actively involved in all aspects of governing the college. He also encouraged involvement from the community.

    Access Terms

    This collection is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.

    Corporate Name:

    San Diego State College -- Archives
    San Diego State College -- History -- 20th century -- Sources
    San Diego State University -- Archives
    San Diego State University -- Finance -- History -- 20th century -- Sources

    Genre/Form of Material:

    Institutional Archives

    Topical Term:

    Education, Higher -- California -- San Diego -- History -- 20th century -- Sources

    Administrative Information

    Conditions Governing Use:

    The copyright interests in some of these materials have been transferred to or belong to San Diego State University. The nature of historical archival and manuscript collections means that copyright status may be difficult or even impossible to determine. Copyright resides with the creators of materials contained in the collection or their heirs. Requests for permission to publish must be submitted to the Head of Special Collections, San Diego State University, Library and Information Access. Permissions is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical item and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder(s), which must also be obtained in order to publish.  Materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials.

    Conditions Governing Access:

    This collection is open for research.

    Preferred Citation:

    Identification of item, folder title, box number, San Diego State University Historical Collection, Special Collections and University Archives, Library and Information Access, San Diego State University.

    Related Materials:

    Samuel Thorburn Black Memorial Collection, 1877-1922, MS-0324
    Edward Lawyer Hardy Memorial Collection, 1910-1951, MS-0371
    University Archives Photograph Collection

    Arrangement of Materials:

    I. Administrative, 1898-1956
         1. Office of the Registrar, 1904-1945
              a.) Student Record Cards, 1898-1956
              b.) Correspondence, 1904-1945
              c.) Reports of Standing, 1905-1938
              d.) Attendance Books, 1913-1921
         2. Financial, 1912-1937
         3. Board of Trustees, 1898-1946
              a.) General Files, 1898-1921
              b.) Correspondence, 1898-1921
              c.) Monthly Payroll Reports, 1910-1919
              d.) Programs and Invitations, 1899-1942
         4. Vice-President's Correspondence, 1915-1921
              a.) 1915
              b.) 1916
              c.) 1917
              d.) 1918
              e.) 1919
              f.) 1920
              g.) 1921
         5. Library, 1898-1946
              a.) Accession Books, 1898-1918
              b.) Shelf Lists, 1916
              c.) Circulation Statistics, 1927-1938
              d.) Library Committee Minutes, 1932-1946
    II. Faculty, 1898-1946
         1. Instructor Term Reports, 1926-1935
         2. Faculty Meeting Minutes, 1898-1935
         3. Course Schedules, 1898-1930
         4. Academic Programs, 1902-1936
         5. Faculty Information, 1900-1946
    III. Organization Records, 1899-1952
    IV. Artifacts, 1931-2004

    Scope and Contents

    The SDSU Historical Collection documents the university's history from its beginnings as a normal school through its transition to a state college.  The collection dates from approximately 1897-1956, with the bulk of the documents created prior to 1935.  It consists primarily of paper records including correspondence and financial records.  The collection documents the relationship between students, administrators, and Vice President W.F. Bliss during the school's early years.  The collection also documents student enrollment and attendance; the school's financial stability; programs and invitations including Dedication Day and May Day festivities from 1903-1935; student activities and organizations; and faculty involvement with administration. It has been divided into four series: Administrative Records, Faculty Records, Student Organization Records, and Artifacts.
    The Administrative Records document the university's progress from its inception as a normal school to its transition to a state college in 1935.  Records from 1898 to the 1930s are extensive; records from the 1930s to 1956 are also included.  The series covers a wide range of subjects from the school's students to its finances, as well as board of trustees records, Vice President's (W.F. Bliss) correspondence, university programs and the campus library.  Included in this series are groundbreaking programs celebrating the move to a new campus in October 1929.  The series is divided into five sub-series: Office of the Registrar Records, Financial Records, Board of Trustees Files, Vice-President's Correspondence, and Library Records.  Some of the series are organized alphabetically; others are organized chronologically.
    The Faculty Records consist of materials created by and for the school's faculty members. Materials in this series date from 1898-1936.  This series documents faculty activities by department, class, term/year, and program.  Significant to this collection is a copy of Admetus: A Thessalian Fantasy by popular English professor and one time Vice President of the college Irving E. Outcalt.  The series is divided into five sub series: Instructor Term Reports, Faculty Meeting Minutes, Course Schedules, Academic Programs, and Faculty Information.  Some of the sub-series are organized alphabetically, and others are organized chronologically.
    The Organizations series consists of materials documenting student and other organizations on campus from 1899-1952.  It documents the various activities of different student organizations on campus during the first 50 years of the school's existence.  The Associated Students in particular are extensively documented. The records are organized alphabetically by student organization name.
    The small Artifacts series includes memorabilia from 1931-2004.  These ten artifacts are predominantly from the college's early years, and include such items as official seals and university apparel.