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San Jose State Normal Training School History

A comprehensive history of the San Jose State Normal Training School


Over the last 165+ years, San José State University has undergone many changes — its location, its campus buildings, and even its name! This guide focuses on the early history of San José State University with a special spotlight on the Training School, considered to have been "an indispensable part of the facilities to be used in the training of teachers for the public schools” for decades.1

San Jose State Normal training school, circa 1890


Timeline of Name Changes

Experimental School/Model Class/"D" Class →

Training School/Training Class →

Training Department →

Demonstration School


In 1857 The Minns' Evening Normal School was established in San Francisco, CA. During its operation from 1857-1862, there was no formally established experimental school for its pupils, but there was some form of "in-service training" for those who needed it.

The Minns’ Evening Normal School was the precursor to the establishment of the California State Normal School, first established in San Francisco in 1862 until 1871. On October 31, 1862, an experimental school or “Model Class” was established in the California State Normal School. It had two sections: the Primary Department and the Grammar Department. In 1866, the Training School was first conceptualized due to a revision in the school law. During its time of operation until 1930, the Training School underwent slight changes in course of study, but typically it was a school on campus where student teachers could receive training in "practice teaching" in the eight grammar grades, according to the course catalogs. Throughout its time of operation, the Training School also went through moments where it was a part of the city school system and where it separated itself from it. Typically, the salaries of student teachers were paid jointly (though not equally) by the city and the state. In its peak, the Training School had 500-600 children enrolled.

In 1871, the California State Normal School moved to San Jose, CA. Due to the move, the Training School was temporarily closed, but was reopened in November of 1872. 

In 1891, a building for the Training School was constructed, but it soon became known as the "Old Training School Building," as the rapid growth of the Training School called for the construction of a new building for the Training School in 1911. The "Old Training School Building" was used for various other purposes until 1933 when it was destroyed.

In the 1898 Board of Trustees Report, a recommendation for the creation of a kindergarten training department was mentioned. In the 1898-1899 course catalog, the Kindergarten Training Department was introduced. It was a technical success, but a numerical failure, so after the 1898-1899 school year, it was abandoned for the 1899-1900 school year. However, for the 1900-1901 school year, it was brought back. From this point on, the timeline becomes inconsistent, but it seems that the Kindergarten Department and the Kindergarten Training Department periodically experienced a series of closings and reopenings. Based on the entries in the Normal Pennant, it seems like there was a Kindergarten held on the Washington Square campus from 1900-1930. In September 1914, the Kindergarten Training Department was formally brought back according to the course catalogs from around those years. 

In 1925, the Training School was renamed to the Demonstration School, and was reorganized into three sections: the Kindergarten-Primary Department (Kindergarten and Grades 1-3), the Intermediate Department (Grades 4-6), and the Junior High School Department (Grades 7-9). This was the first appearance of the junior high school in the Demonstration School. In 1930, the Demonstration School was abolished in 1930, with the building being destroyed in 1933. In its place, cadet teaching and teaching away at external schools were prioritized by President MacQuarrie, which was referred to as "practice teaching" after 1930 in the course catalogs.

Although abolished in 1930, a 1953 Master’s thesis writing about the Demonstration School at the San Jose State College was found. However, it states that the location of that Demonstration School was in Lowell Elementary School near San Jose State College, so it can be assumed that this Demonstration School was different from the traditional Training School/Demonstration School of the State Normal School and State Teachers College up until 1930. Additionally, the SJSU Special Collections & Archives’ ITV Records includes consent and release forms from the Demonstration School in 1971. 


1Walter, A. 1933. The origin and development of the San Jose State Teachers College [Doctoral dissertation, Stanford University]. San José State University Library, Special Collections & Archives.