Ticket Book for Courses at Texas Normal College and Training Institute. 1890.
The Texas Normal College and Training Institute was established in 1890 by Joshua C. Chilton, a normal school president and teacher from Orleans, Indiana. In order to secure the school in Denton, a group of local businessmen donated ten acres of land to the city of Denton for a center to train teachers. During the first year, 185 students of varying ages attended the school. Many of the students were working full time (often as teachers) and needed additional education to advance professionally. The courses at Texas Normal College were arranged so students could enroll any time, could take courses when they were available, and could opt to take only the courses that they believed would be professionally advantageous. The tickets shown here provided proof that a student had paid for his or her courses and were entitled to enroll. In order to allow students to take full advantage of the flexibility in enrollment, registration was handled by issuing tickets that students could exchange whenever they enrolled in a course. Tickets came in books of five, and they could be exchanged for a combination of classes, lectures, or drills. The tickets initiated a system used to allow students into classes with proof of payment. On the back of the tickets are blank spaces provided for “Amount Paid” and even a space for a signature. This is a binding agreement between school and student that guaranteed students that they would be allowed to enroll in classes once proper payment had been made.
Texas Normal College and Training Institute was one of hundreds of teacher training programs of various size and quality established around the country following the Civil War. Many of the teacher institutes were temporary schools that enrolled working teachers for 2-6 week sessions during summer breaks. In contrast, Texas Normal College and Training Institute had a physical campus and ran year round. As such, it needed to attract and provide for a consistent student body.
In order to recruit students and the funds they brought with them, Texas Normal College and Training Institute’s curriculum was broad—there were six collegiate courses, a teacher training course, and secondary level courses. Although the courses of study were designed to be comprehensive, students were allowed to take as many or as few courses as they wanted. Additionally, students could take preparatory courses—equivalent to what was offered in local public schools—that would prepare them for post-secondary work. Promotional materials also indicated that students would be credited for work they completed at other schools. Moreover, according to the 1890-1891 “Course of Study,” “Our classes are arranged as to enable students to commence at any time, and no student will be turned away who, for valid reasons, could not enter at opening of term” (17). Despite these various attempts to attract students, including non-traditional students, Texas Normal College and Training Institute was financially unstable and faced bankruptcy for almost a decade after it opened.