MARQUETTE, Mich. — It was 115 years ago today that Michigan Gov. Hazen Pingree signed the bill authorizing Northern State Normal School (now NMU) in Marquette. The legislation allowed the State Board of Education to buy land, erect buildings, hire a faculty and establish a curriculum for the Upper Peninsula's first normal school.
On this date in 1899, William McKinley was in the White House, automobiles were still a novelty of the wealthy and the Upper Peninsula’s mining industry was booming.
The rapid population growth of the Upper Peninsula during the late 19th century created a high demand for a normal school, an institution designed to graduate educators for public school systems. Jason E Hammond, Michigan’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction, noted the pleas of prominent Marquette citizens Peter White, Dwight Waldo, John Longyear and others to create a normal school in Marquette. A banquet entertaining the five committee members of Michigan’s House of Education concluded with a toast to Marquette’s normal school with all attendees wading into Lake Superior’s waters.