Lewis-Clark State College

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Lewis–Clark State College is a public undergraduate college located in Lewiston, Idaho. It was founded in 1893, and has an annual enrollment of approximately 3,500 students. The college offers over 83 degrees and is well-known for its Criminal Justice, Education, Nursing, and Technical programs.



On January 27, 1893, Idaho Governor William J. McConnell signed an Act authorizing the establishment of the Lewiston State Normal School in Lewiston.[1] There was a catch, however: "Provided the mayor and common council of that city on or before May 1, 1893, donate ten acres, within the city limits and known as part of the city park, and authorizing the said mayor and council to convey to the trustees of said normal school the said tract of land," etc.

The first Trustees on the school's Board were James W. Reid (who had done the most to shepherd the authorization bill through the legislature), Norman B. Willey (who had just stepped down as Idaho governor), Benjamin Wilson (a previous gubernatorial candidate), J. Morris Howe, and C. W. Schaff. Reid was elected President of the Board [2], a position he held until his death in 1902.

Lewiston residents lost no time in obtaining the required space for the school. However, the legislature acted slowly in providing construction funds, and then construction lagged. George E. Knepper[2] had been hired as first President of the Normal School. Frustrated by the delays in getting his building, Knepper leased space in downtown Lewiston and opened for classes on January 6, 1896. The building itself was not ready until May[2]. Over the next several years, more structures were added to the campus, including dormitories and a gymnasium.

In keeping with the Normal school philosophy, Lewiston Normal focused on practical, hands-on training for new teachers. That meant they provided a great deal of “manual training” – what we would call vocational education. Also, to insure that teachers truly knew how to handle a classroom, the School ran an on-campus training school. In it, real teachers taught real pupils, but student teachers also learned-by-doing under the supervision of experienced teacher-critics.

Until the 1920s one-room schools served well over half of Idaho’s primary students. In most, only the teacher knew anything at all about running a school. Thus, in Keith Petersen’s words[2], “teachers assumed responsibility for shaping a district's entire educational policy.”

World War I certainly impacted the nation’s normal schools, but not as much as it did conventional institutions. Generally, male students were in the majority at regular colleges, many of which experienced brutal enrollment losses. Normal schools attracted a predominantly female student body, so the declines were much smaller – about 15% at Lewiston Normal.

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