The History of Cheney State Normal School

History of the State 
Normal School At Cheney
Preface

 

By Holice, Pam, and Deb

Extra special thanks to Holice B. Young for transcribing book.  The excellent work she does continues to help many researchers!  Thanks also, to Pam Rietsch, for sharing her books with genealogists!

 

PREFACE

On April 24, 1922, a meeting was held in the auditorium of the State Normal School at Cheney to commemorate ten years of progress since the fire of 1912. To that meeting came several men and women who had been associated with the Normal School in its early days, and in listening to the recital of their reminiscences it occurred to the author that the interesting history of this institution was worthy of preservation in written form. C. S. Kingston, who has been a member of the Normal School faculty since 1901, had one or twice suggested the need of such a work; so, with the definite promise of assistance from him, the preparation of this volume was begun in the summer of 1922. Whatever merit it may have is largely doe to his friendly counsel and assistance in collecting and evaluating data.

The first difficulty which confronted the author was the lack of official records. The fire of 1912 swept everything before it. Not a scrap of paper was saved from the building. In the months which followed a complete set of catalogues of the Normal School was assembled, and with this meager source material at hand the preparation of this work was begun. Fortunately, some of the early settlers of Cheney kept partial files of Cheney newspapers, and in the office of the Cheney Free Press were found incomplete files of newspapers for the later territorial years. These newspapers, the reminiscences of former members of the faculty and of a few pioneers of Cheney, and a complete set of the Sessions Laws of Washington have been of great assistance to the author in the preparation of this volume. As the work progressed other sources were suggested, and eventually the story began to show signs of continuity.

The limitations of some of the sources are fully recognized. Newspaper reports are not official reports, and the recollections of persons are not wholly reliable. But some care has been exercised in evaluating these data. Whatever has appeared to be inconsistent has been thorn out, and sources of doubtful accuracy, if used at all, have been cited with care. It is believed that a fairly accurate picture of the Normal School has been unfolded.

No claim is made by the author either to completeness or to unfailing accuracy. This book has been written in addition to an extra heavy schedule of work in the Normal School, and at times the manuscript has been laid aside altogether for weeks. An honest effort has been made, however, to portray the history of an educational institution which occupies a unique place in the annals of the Commonwealth of Washington. Having been a student in the Normal School at the time of the fire in 1912, having taken a small part in the activities of the Alumni Association, having seem at close range the Normal School as a factor in the politics of the State of Washington during two sessions of the legislature, and finally, having been a member of the faculty for more than two years, it has been a pleasure to trace the development of the Normal School from its inception to the present day. Moreover, the hearty cooperation of former members of the faculty has made the task less burdensome than was at first anticipated. To the many requests of the author for information have come immediate and valued responses. Members of the faculty of the Benjamin P. Cheney Academy, three of whose five principals were still living in 1923, have shown a great interest in this work. The contact with the men and women who helped to pay the foundations of the State Normal School at Cheney, and who afterward nursed the weakling through years of doubt, has been one of the chief compensations for the time and efforts spent in the preparation of this volume. Credit has been given to these persons in the notes.

The author acknowledges with gratitude special assistance and courtesies from several sources: To the Spokesman-Review for the use of its files; to the Colfax Gazette for the use of files of the Palouse Gazette, the pioneer newspaper of Whitman County; to the Cheney Free Press for numerous courtesies; to Mrs. Ruth Felch Ford, daughter of the first principal of the Benjamin P. Cheney Academy, for the use of papers collected by her father; to N. A. Rolfe, former mayor of Cheney, who gave to the library of the Normal School valuable files of Cheney newspapers; to W. J. Sutton, second president of the Normal School, whose energy and talents have given direction to many educational movement in Washington; to W. C. Stone of Spokane, a member of the first faculty of the Normal School; to Mrs. Rose Rice Turner of Spokane, sometime principal of the Training School; to Dr. Curtis Merriman, who has read parts of the manuscript and offered helpful suggestions; to Miss Florence Wendler, who assisted in correcting the manuscript and in verifying quotations; and especially to Vice President C. S. Kingston, upon whose excellent judgment I have greatly relied.

Cheney, September, 1923.

J. ORIN OLIPHANT

 

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