Category Archives: Research Reflections

Sympathy/Antipathy in Geneseo’s Humanities

Our class discussion today about the “sympathetic researchers” in Buurma’s article made me think about the Humanities sequence at Geneseo, considered to be (and advertised as) the cornerstone of our liberal arts curriculum. The sequence consists of two courses that examine the development of western civilization primarily through “Great Books,” and are primarily taught by English, history, and philosophy professors (more in-depth description here). Most relevant to our discussion is the fact that all students are required to take these classes as a graduation requirement, and students of all majors and backgrounds end up in the same classes. This mixture of students often produces the variety of insights that Mark mentioned when discussing interdisciplinary classes. I’m currently taking Humanities II, and the range of opinions in what is still mostly an English class (I will admit I’ve purposefully taken both courses with English professors) is refreshing compared to my major classes, where everyone is trained to look at the texts in the same ways (not that this leads to everyone having the exact same thoughts).

In terms of my site, I’m still not exactly sure how Humanities will figure in. I discovered through some (very brief) googling that at least among the SUNY schools, our program is quite unique; several schools have humanities general education requirements, but a number of different courses that fulfill them (including Albany, Binghamton, and Purchase).

Furthermore, the history of the program at Geneseo is more than a little contentious. As I learned when researching for my first blog post about the college’s history, the program took several years to fully establish after its conception. From what I can tell, the curriculum has not drastically changed, but I hope to find further information on this in the archives (which I plan to visit within the next couple weeks). On the first of class this semester, my Humanities professor told the class that since its establishment, various forces have been trying to remove the sequence from the graduation requirements. While I currently don’t have much to back this up, I think it’s entirely believable, because most current students dread taking the courses (I will attribute this partially to traumatic registration experiences).

In my interviews with current students and alumni who took the courses, I definitely intend to address this aversion to Humanities; the requirement certainly isn’t kept a secret during the admissions process, so why choose a school like Geneseo if you know you will hate these classes? I also want to discuss this with the professors who teach the courses. While I’ve gone back and forth on the possibility of interviewing a greater ratio of English professors than those in other departments, I currently feel that interviews with a number of different professors who teach/have taught these courses may be more beneficial to the project as a whole than a more equal spread across the disciplines.

My research has been at somewhat of a standstill this week as I’ve had a number of papers and midterms, but, as I mentioned earlier, I’m hoping to visit the College Archives after my break this weekend. Over the weekend, I’m going to try looking more closely at some of the specifics of the site design—this may be more easily and efficiently done once I’m farther along in my research, but becoming more familiar with WordPress and the like can’t hurt.

Musings on the Human Element of Digital Humanities

The liberal arts and digital humanities seem to be intrinsically connected on their most core level.  While the liberal arts may encompass a more broad category, there is still a definitive emphasis placed on the humanities and the human experience.  Digital humanities obviously also have a huge emphasis on the humanities, but the actual human element seems to be up for question.  Human history has been profoundly, inarguably impacted by the technological breakthroughs that occurred throughout it.  While it is debatable whether pre-agricultural revolution nomads had more of a genuine human interaction than subsequent farming civilizations, it seems safe to say that the emergence of widely accessible digital communications has rocked the way we understand human interaction.  It seems easy to say that some aspect of the human element is lost when a class is held over Skype, or Blue Jeans, or any other kind of telecommunication.  As we’re inherently social creatures, it seems that a conversation that isn’t face-to-face lacks a certain authenticity, and is somehow seen as less valid.  If we were to follow this train of thought, it seems clear that the wider lens of the liberal arts seems much more preferable than losing something so hard to describe, yet crucial.  However, I would argue that the digital humanities don’t deprive people of an essential part of learning, but instead, trade it for a different kind of human interaction.  The way that people interact over the phone, through a letter, or through a video call is profoundly different than in person, and to not experience that form of communication is to miss out on a learning experience.  That brings me back to our COPLAC course in general.  Our experience of being able to participate in a digital humanities course, to me, is simply the natural evolution of a liberal arts education.  Allowing students to discuss and learn about the humanities through a different outlet than traditional schooling is simply the next step in education.  So rather than have the liberal arts and digital humanities be seen as two competing ideas, I believe digital humanities are just a natural extension of the liberal arts.  In this vein, I believe that the work we are doing with our projects is the next step in education.  Rather than compile information for a one-time use of a paper, we’re taking meaningful interactions and experiences, and synthesizing them for whoever would want to learn about the material.  The active human element of having such a personal experience allows us to experience education is a way very unique to our type of class.  Our liberal arts educations let us craft a project that will have much more long-lasting effects than a single grade.

“The art challenges the technology, the technology inspires the art:”

“Digital Humanities,” while not a new term to me, has until recently been a bit of an enigma.  I often heard professors speak of the digital humanities, but I never entirely understood the distinction between regular humanities and its digitized counterpart.  So when I enrolled in this course—a course in the digital humanities—I decided it was time to do some research.  My first lesson in the digital humanities:  DH is an ever-evolving field, with no set definition.  Most scholars agree that DH is a field of study in which technology is used to create new ways of articulating and understanding knowledge.  Beyond this, scholars often define DH based on how the technology is used; or to put it another way, DH is defined according to the intended purpose of using technology to re-articulate a piece of knowledge.

My thoughts on digital humanities are very similar to the opinions laid out in “The Sympathetic Research Imagination;” I see digital humanities as a technology of visibility—a method of making a body of information accessible to a greater audience.  On the other hand, I see the liberal arts as a dispositive of citizen-making; in my opinion, a liberal arts education is intended to provide people with the ability to both understand and think critically about the world around them, to embrace a diversity of worldviews, so that they may make informed decisions to improve society.  While I certainly consider liberal arts to overlap with DH—to the extent that I consider DH necessary for a legitimate liberal arts education—I see DH as different from the liberal arts in the way that it internalizes and articulates biases.

Liberal arts education—as I see it—at once encompasses bias and disavows it; in the mission of liberal arts—to create a citizen that can make an informed decision about what is occurring in society—one must be aware of the different methodologies of thinking that dominate our world.  For instance, at Geneseo, students are required to take a set of general education classes—with the purpose of creating “common goals and common values”—in writing, foreign language, arts, math, science, and social science, and then they must take a set of “liberal arts breadth” courses which include another round of arts, math, science, and social science, but also  two courses in the humanities and a course in “other world civilizations.”  Indeed, the Geneseo website lists under learning outcomes of general education developing “an understanding of the diversity and commonality of human cultures, both others and their own, along with knowledge of how these cultures developed.”  Implicit in these learning outcomes is the suggestion that liberal arts provides an objective understanding of the way societies come to be, as well as the suggestion that this knowledge will empower citizens in their ability to make informed decisions.

Digital Humanities, on the other hand, has much more modest goals.  Digital humanities seeks to provide access to the same knowledge that liberal arts make accessible, however, DH aims to make information transparent; that is, DH lays aside claims of an objective understanding of how the world exists, and instead makes visible information so that one may create their own worldview.  It seems then, that both liberal arts and digital humanities share the goal of empowerment, of formulating the subject as origin of knowledge and power.  To this end, liberal arts appears to be concerned with the creation of an informed minority, whereas DH concerns itself with the greater public’s access to vital information. Sheila Brennan notes that the goal of digital humanities is not simply to “digitize humanities,” but to provide information to the public transparently, coherently, and in a digestible fashion.  DH then, does not seek to understand the biases which liberal arts claims are vital to the making of an informed decision, but rather, DH allows the subject viewing the data to bring their own biases to the information.  This is not to say that DH is always unbiased—there is inherently a rhetoric and aesthetic to any portrayal of data that can intentionally or unintentionally sway the opinion of the viewer; however, DH, as constructed by Sheila Brennan, embodies a transparency and accessibility that liberal arts education does not.

So how does this relationship inform my research process?  Most simply, this conversation adds a level of complexity to my ruminations regarding the audience and theme of my project.  In more complex terms, contemplating liberal arts and digital humanities necessitates a consideration of the epistemological position of my project—that is, by accumulating information about public access to liberal arts in Geneseo, should I stake a claim in praise, critique, or some sort of evaluation of education in Geneseo?  Or would it be more appropriate to simply lay out the information, and let the audience make what they will out of the research?  I’m inclined to find a middle-ground (after all, this course is about telling a story); the transparency of the latter option seems like it would limit the possibilities of my overarching theme because of the exclusivity of the audience, while the prior does the opposite—it hyper-specifies the theme, thereby reducing the audience.  With this said, I think it’s entirely possible to make the research transparent and highly accessible while also working with a specific theme.  Indeed, I think transparency of research evokes another important aspect of the liberal arts education (and perhaps this is where liberal arts and DH dovetail):  labor.

Explicit in the documentation of digital humanities is the labor of the project; implicit in a liberal arts education is the promise that the subject will be prepared for labor.  Ultimately, the transparency and perceived simplicity of DH creates a transcript of the labor process of research; it demonstrates the capabilities and experiences of the researcher—and this is something I undoubtedly want to showcase with my project.  In attempting to articulate what I now see as the fundamental contemplation for my project, I’m reminded of a quote by Pixar co-creator John Lasseter regarding art and technology in Pixar movies:  “the art challenges the technology, the technology inspires the art.”  After considering the relationship between liberal arts and digital humanities, and the implication in my research, I think one of my biggest tasks will be to explore the digital tools and technologies that will best allow me to create a project that both transparently demonstrates the labor and research of the project, while simultaneously telling a captivating story to my intended audience.

Contemplating on the Public Process and Product

As I’ve never encountered the digital humanities outside of a liberal arts setting, it is difficult for me to fully separate the two fields. I consider digital humanities to be an extension of the liberal arts, providing new platforms for the research and accessibility to a wider audience.

The audience is a particularly important aspect of digital humanities projects, including ours. Sheila Brennan, in her essay “Public, First,” emphasizes the need for identifying a specific audience: “Doing any type of public digital humanities work requires an intentional decision from the beginning of the project that identifies, invites in, and addresses audience needs in the design, as well as the approach and content” (384-85). I think that knowing the audience the site is being built for will make my research and the site itself more pointed and purposeful.

Digital archives such as ours also need to be usable for other researchers, as discussed by Rachel Buurma and Anna Levine. They stress the importance of paying particular attention to details including categorization and the distinctions of data and meta-data, and suggest using what they coin the “liberal arts research imagination” as guidance through the process (276). This specific aspect of the project is among the more daunting to me, partly because of my lack of technological prowess and partly because it seems kind of boring, so I will definitely try Buurma and Levine’s described methods when I reach this stage of the process.

Later in their essay, Buurma and Levine give an overview of a digital archive built by students and faculty of Swarthmore College, Black Liberation 1969. They note that the site is created to allow for multiple interpretations and readings, and their description of the archive as “open-ended” struck me as particularly significant (276). While I value the importance of leaving room for interpretation, the phrase reminded me more that Geneseo will (hopefully) continue as an institution after our project is complete. The future of the college is itself open-ended, and its curriculum and identity as a public liberal arts college will likely continue to evolve, and we would be remiss to not consider this throughout the research process. While this was not Buurma and Levine’s intended meaning, I feel that it will be helpful moving forward.

Works Cited

Buurma, Rachel Sagner and Anna Tione Levine. “The Sympathetic Research Imagination: Digital Humanities and the Liberal Arts.” 2016.

Brennan, Sheila A. “Public, First.” 2016.

How the Public Becomes Personal and Vice Versa

Reading about the necessity for liberal arts and history in a public context echoes much of what I’ve already said and heard during the development of this project.

In Sheila Brennan’s essay, “Public, First,” she discusses the importance of accessibility in the digital humanities. With this project, I’m taking on the role of a facilitator of the liberal arts, and my responsibility goes beyond just putting words on a screen. Online doesn’t always equal public, so making sure people know about what I’m doing and are able to easily access the project.

Accessibility isn’t the only feature of a strong digital humanities/public history exhibit. It’s also about welcoming a specific audience who otherwise may have not stumbled upon the site.

I occasionally have a challenge with realizing that Keene State isn’t an integral part of everyone’s family legacy. Because of that, I have a special responsibility to show people, especially those who participate in our school’s community and culture, what I know and what I am learning.

Further on in the collection of works on the structure of the digital humanities, Rachel Buurma and Anna Levine talk about the importance of research strategies and skills in “The Sympathetic Research Imagination: Digital Humanities and the Liberal Arts.

Much of digital humanities is being the middle point of research between the primary sources and what becomes secondary sources. In this project, I am searching and sorting information to create a gathering of personal narratives. This decision of which pieces of history I include are small decisions, but to each person who accesses this site, they could be monumental.

It’s unfortunate that I only have two and a half more months to create this archive, but I believe that the process of researching and gathering is as important as the finished project.

Toward a Privatized Public University

“The United States Country Report: Trends in Higher Education from Massification to Post-Massification,” suggests that higher education followed a linear path through three eras:  massification, maturation, and post-massification (Gumport 1-3).  Massification refers to the explosive development of higher education following the institutionalization of the GI Bill and the new population seeking college degrees.  Maturation identifies the era following massification, when institutional expansion slowed; this era was characterized by a diversification of the student body, a distinction between the student and the worker, and changes in college tuition.  Post-massification, then, indicates an era in which institutions felt the pressures of a changing market and a population that had become disenchanted with the perceived “public good” of higher education. 

The story of Geneseo, according to “The Transformation of SUNY Geneseo,” is much more convoluted—and even seems to present an evolution contrary to the trends suggested by The United States Country Report.  In the 40s, 50s, and 60s, Geneseo certainly saw the massification caused by the GI Bill, however, in the period of time from the late 60s to early 90s, Geneseo’s era of maturation seemed to coincide with its era of post-massification; that is, at the same time Geneseo’s student-body was diversifying, the administrators at Geneseo seemed to recognize and capitalize on the upcoming shift in market values and changing values of the general population that brought about the demands of the post-massification era.

In the 70s and 80s—and even earlier—Geneseo embodied the trends presented by the country report.  Geneseo’s “new student majority” consisted of students at or above the age of 22; the student body was increasingly comprised of part time student who held full- or part-time jobs; women were the predominant gender at the school, and racial minorities contributed to a greater percentage of students (Mahood 214-220).  Yet, Geneseo was at once ahead of and behind its time:  while most Universities in the era of maturation saw increased faculty and staff, Geneseo was faced with the possibility of enacting six levels of faculty cuts (SUNY at Sixty, 65).  Additionally, proposed construction projects, including the building of new dorms and classrooms, were denied and/or suspended.

The administrators at Geneseo had to make a decision:  decrease selectivity and thereby increase enrollment in order to receive greater state and federal aid, or hold true to their values.  They did a little of both.  In 1977, Geneseo accepted 88% of students—its highest acceptance rate in the institutions history—in order to stave off faculty cuts (SUNY at Sixty, 70).  Geneseo’s next actions anticipated trends in higher education, fiscal conservatism, and public opinion that most higher-ed institutions would not react to for at least ten years.

By increasing enrollment, administrators sought to increase the potential audience for the solicitation of their changing institution.  First, Geneseo increased its professional/vocational programs—administrators created the BS in accounting and expanded the business and economics programs, started programs in the field of urban studies, and expanded fields such as biochemistry, physics, and computer science (SUNY at Sixty, 67).  According to the country report, the trend of increased vocational programs in higher-ed didn’t take off until the late 80s when the consumerist population—who increasingly saw higher-ed as an irresponsible use of resources—demanded that higher-ed institutions provide educations with more practical implications (Gumport 30).  At the same time, professors created Geneseo’s hallmark courses, Humanities I & II; these courses ground Geneseo in its status as a liberal arts institution by asking students to explore the philosophy, history, and literature of prevailing Western ideologies (SUNY at Sixty, 69).  After just one year at 88% acceptance, Geneseo returned to its rigorous standard and accepted fewer than 50% of applicants.

After achieving a good balance between vocational courses and liberal arts studies, administrators began a scourge of departments that they saw unsuccessful in anticipation of the fiscal conservatism that would limit Geneseo’s funding.  This began with the removal of drama, dance, and physical education departments, although students could still enroll in individual courses in these areas of study.  At this time, the school also saw cuts to art and music.  Most shockingly, administrators dissolved the School of Library and Information Science due to its declining enrollment rates; in dissolving this most traditional department, scholars noted Geneseo’s move toward privatization:  although a public school, Geneseo became more concerned with the values of private schools—selective admissions, name value, and adoption of market ideologies—than with that of public schools, namely providing an accessible education to all.

Yet, these were not the only changes at Geneseo.  At a time when most universities were increasing faculty and staff, Geneseo fired 104 faculty members (SUNY at Sixty, 73).  However, the institution saw this as an opportunity to develop a new teaching staff with different expectations:  taking advantage of the fact that the federal government was investing more money in research institutions than ever before, Geneseo made it clear that professors would both teach, and perform research (Gumport 25, SUNY at Sixty, 75).  Accordingly, administrators outfitted Geneseo with both a faculty and a curriculum that would provide the most “bang” for a student’s “buck.”  In a time when most universities were expanding, Geneseo doubled down on its qualities that administrators thought would favor conditions of the changing market.   Whether by chance, or keen insight, Geneseo’s recognition of changing values allowed it evolve into the “public Ivy” that it is considered to be today.



Gumport, Patricia, Maria Iannozzi, Susan Shaman, and Robert Zemsky. The United States Country Report: Trends in Higher Education from Massification to Post-Massification. Rep. N.p.: n.p., 1997. Print.

Bright, Frederick, and Wayne Mahood. SUNY Geneseo: 125 Years of Excellence. Geneseo: Clarion Publications, 1996. Print.

Mahood, Wayne. “”A Touch of New England in Western New York:” The Transformation of SUNY Geneseo.” SUNY at Sixty: The Promise of the State University of New York. Albany: State U of New York, 2010. 63-76. Print.



Higher Education In A Changing Western North Carolina

The development of UNCA has always been heavily linked to the community and wider nation, even before it was a part of the UNC system.  The adoption of the GI Bill, along with the rapid expansion of a true American middle class, can be clearly documented in my previous history on UNCA, which I’ll elaborate upon here.  The late forties saw a large amount of new legislation reaching Asheville, with lawmakers allocating funds and laying the groundwork for a state-funded school in Buncombe county due to an increased demand for higher education for many citizens.  The fifties and beyond saw an incredible increase in enrollment for the campus, along with it becoming the first two-year college to receive state funds.  Because of the constantly increasing and diverse student body, it was also the originator of the modern day community college system in North Carolina  It was around this time that the offer to join the syndicate of North Carolina universities was made to UNCA.  The campus relocated for a final time after all of these changed were made.  With state funds and a switch to the baccalaureate system, the university remained uncharacteristically stable.  UNCA hasn’t moved or had any major setbacks or structural changes since the early seventies when it was finally adapting and flourishing under a post-GI Bill education system.  Seemingly crucial to the success of the university was its continuing tradition of public education, combatting the wealth of private schools in Western North Carolina at the time.  UNCA seized a prime opportunity to capitalize on a burdening education-seeking middle class, by being a state funded public school that was the only member of the UNC syndicate in the area. While it may have taken some time for UNCA to get it’s footing after major educational changes nationally, it managed to persevere and thrive.  The massification of higher education sweeping across America had a clear, positive effect on the city of Asheville and the university as a whole.


Gumport, Patricia J., et al. “The United States Country Report: Trends in Higher Education from Massification to Post- Massification.” Academic Reforms in the World: Situation and Perspective in the Massification Stage of Higher Education,1997.

“UNCA Timeline.” Accessed September 24, 2016.

The GI Bill, Higher Education, and Race in a Post-War Enviroment

As an avid student of social justice and political science, I’m fascinated by the role of a male veteran in American society. I’ve been having a surprisingly difficult time finding scholarly sources on my own institution’s role in the recuperation of young World War II veterans. However, the amount of primary sources available through the United States government provides me with a first-hand account at how education policy intervened when a generation of men returned from the battlefields.

While college enrollment increased in the late 1930s, education for all young men was interrupted at the start of World War II. Boys in secondary school, too young to be drafted, dropped out to work in industries which supported the American forces (Stanley 677). Young men in postsecondary institutions had to leave their studies when they were drafted. Because one could not volunteer for the armed forces until later on in the century, young men were unaware of when they would be sent off to fight (Stanley 676).

The amount of men returning to build the post-war economy was so vast, politicians needed to find a way to readjust these new, young veterans in to society. The GI Bill (formally known as Servicemen’s Readjustment Act) passed in 1944, which dramatically changed the accessibility and prevalence of post-secondary education. About seventy percent of men who turned 21 between 1940 and 1955 essentially had a free four-year degree waiting for them at whichever institution they chose–as long as they were Caucasian (Stanley 671).

The federally funded GI Bill Act makes it clear that it is separating itself from state legislature. The state legislature in the Jim Crow states, as well as the Southern Congressional leaders in D.C., worked the ensure that the GI Bill only helped White students (Kotz). Because of this, returning Black veterans were denied loans, mortgages, certain career paths, and college acceptances (Kotz).

The prevalence of African-American veterans looking to take advantage of their right to higher education overfilled the only Black colleges. Black veterans were being turned away from their own schools because of overcrowding (Perea 595).  While the White Americans under the GI Bill were able to build a new, prospering middle class with their post-secondary educations, the African-Americans were blatantly excluded both in government policy and personal discrimination.

Although Keene State is, was, and most likely will be, a predominantly Caucasian institution, it is still vital for race to be included with my story and research on higher education in this country.

Works Cited

Kotz, Nick. Rev. of “When Affirmative Action Was White” New York Times 28 Aug. 2005: n. pag. Web. 25 Sept. 2016.

Perea, Juan F. “Doctrines of Delusion.” University of Pittsburgh Law Review 75 (2014): n. pag. Google Scholar. Web. 25 Sept. 2016.

Stanley, M. “College Education and the Midcentury GI Bills.” The Quarterly Journal of Economics 118.2 (2003): 671-708. Web. 25 Sept. 2016.

The G.I. Bill’s Tiers of Effects

Since the start of the course, I’ve been wondering how big a role the State University of New York (SUNY) should play in the final project. While it is a large and complex system, Geneseo maintains a distinct identity while simultaneously being a part of that system. With this in mind, I’ve decided to look at the effects of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 (also known as the G.I. Bill) at the state (SUNY) and local (Geneseo) levels.

SUNY was established in 1948, only two years after a commission on the matter was established, in direct

SUNY's current campuses

SUNY’s current campuses

response to increased access to higher education made possible by the G.I. Bill. Governor Thomas E. Dewey noted that private institutions in New York would not be able to contain the expected surge of veterans, making greater organization at the public level necessary (Mahood 146). However, despite (and perhaps because of) the rapid speed at which SUNY was established, there was a great deal of confusion and discord surrounding the institution during its founding and the first few years of its existence (Mahood 147).

In Geneseo, the impact of the G.I. Bill were not immediate, with only gradual increases in enrollment from the 1946-47 year until the 1957-58 year, which saw an increase of over two-hundred and fifty students from the previous year; however, the 1953-54 year saw a concerning drop in enrollment from the previous year (Mahood 311). The eventually significant growth of the student body meant that the long-awaited dormitories, construction of which had been put off during World War II, were all the more necessary (Mahood 148). Despite ongoing battles with SUNY and the state legislature for funding, thirteen dormitories were built on campus between 1950 and 1970, as well as several academic and administrative buildings (Mahood 316).

The murkiest of the effects of the G.I. Bill was the SUNY’s mandated conversion of Geneseo, as well as the other public teachers colleges, into liberal arts colleges. Mahood describes the initial designation as a “multipurpose college,” and I feel that this better reflects the intent of the G.I. Bill, which I read as having a greater focus on educating veterans for a specific place in the workforce (Mahood 167). “Multipurpose” seems to be a less constricting description than “liberal arts,” which brings to mind a much more defined purpose and curriculum. Additionally, there did not appear to be any initial deemphasis of Geneseo’s education programs, which fit in closely with my reading of the G.I. Bill’s intentions.

Patricia Gumport’s study in the trends of higher education report that the number of Baccalaureate-Granting Institutions (of which I consider Geneseo to be at least at the time of Gumport’s study) generally decreased throughout much the latter half of the twentieth century, making Geneseo’s increasing success during the same time period all the more fascinating (14). I hope to further explore this surprising success, as well as Geneseo’s occasionally contentious relationship with SUNY (mostly due to funding issues) as I continue my research with the general trends of higher education in mind.

Works Cited

Gumport, Patricia J., et al. “The United States Country Report: Trends in Higher Education from Massification to Post- Massification.” Academic Reforms in the World: Situation and Perspective in the Massification Stage of Higher Education, 1997.

Mahood, Wayne with Frederick Bright, Judith Bushnell, Paul Hepler, and James McNally. SUNY Geneseo: From Normal School to Public Ivy, 1871-2007. The Donning Company Publishers, 2008.

The Beginnings of Keene Normal School

In the late nineteenth century, the high quality of southern New Hampshire public grammar schools lead to a need for accomplished and well-rounded educators (Smart 3). There was a bold discrepancy between teachers in different parts of New Hampshire, therefore Keene Normal School was designed in 1845 to elevate the standards of teacher education (5). At this time, there were only three normal schools in the country (6).

The crisis of teacher incompetence nationwide lead to a race between the municipalities of Plymouth and Keene, New Hampshire at the end of the 1800s, ending with Plymouth creating the first normal school in New England in 1871 (Smart 7).

The creators of Keene Normal School still worked towards forming their institution. The City of Keene was able to raise $19,000 to support the construction of the facility on Main Street (Smart 30). Keene Normal School officially opened in 1909 and began educating young women in the area in education, pedagogy, and the liberal arts and sciences. The students were also able to practice teaching in and around Keene, which lowered the taxpayers’ contribution to public education for children.

The earliest students created the first motto: Service (Smart 41) . It was liberal icon Margaret Sanger who inspired Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve while giving a speech at the school (Smart 50).

Though Keene Normal School was flourishing in its first decade, World War I called women away from teaching and towards nursing (Smart 70). This created enrollment problems that continued even post-Armistice. The educational revolt in the 1920s implemented governmental policies which insisted on limiting the liberal arts and focusing instead on trades (78).

The following years worsened the prognosis of the school, with a hurricane, an economic collapse, and typhoid fever striking Keene (Smart 131). From 1930 to 1939, the student body and employees of the school were diminished by fifty percent (112).

The struggles with the first part of the twentieth century lead Keene Normal School to consider a rebirth. The school was a burgeoning college already, with its developed liberal arts program. It officially transitioned to Keene Teachers’ College in 1939 (Smart 135).

The very formative years of the institution now known as Keene State College developed a precedent of constant change. This continued into the twentieth century and still is in existence today, as the college enters its second century.

Work Cited

Smart, James G. Striving: Keene State College, 1909-1984: The History of a Small Public Institution. Canaan, NH: Phoenix Pub., 1984. Print.