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SJSU Special Collections & Archives

Historical Research Topics and Collections

University History

San Jose State University has the distinction of being the oldest public institution of higher education on the West Coast. The early history of SJSU began in 1857 in San Francisco with the formation of the Minns’ Evening Normal School. In 1862 an act of the California State Legislature led to the formation of the first California State Normal School, and in 1870 the campus moved from San Francisco to San Jose. The history of SJSU  spans over 150 years and the university archive records provide a wealth of primary resources related to the early formation of the normal school and the transformation from a small teachers college to become a large university. 

As the oldest public institution of higher education on the West Coast and the first campus of the CSU system—the nation's largest system of higher education—these records document the birth of higher education in California and teacher education in the West.

Students will find a diversity of research topics  including topics on the Civil Rights Movement on campus, social justice, the Vietnam War, equity in education and housing, new education programs in women and ethnic studies, athletics, and activities related to student life from 1862 to the present.

When researching the history of San Jose State University, keep in mind the name of the institution during specific years:

1857-1861  Minns' Evening Normal School

1862-1886 California State Normal School

1887-1920  San Jose State Normal School

1921-1934  San Jose State Teachers College

1935-1971 San Jose State College

1972-1973 CSU San Jose

1974-- San Jose State University