Rearview Mirror

From the Desk of Felicity Knox ’94, Library Associate to Special Collections and University Archives

Old TU emblam

Ask An Archivist

Q: What’s a “normal” school?

A: Towson University was founded in 1866 as the Maryland State Normal School. This name sounds strange to modern ears, but at the time it was perfectly, well, normal. Since the 1795 founding of the École normale supérieure to train teachers in Paris, teacher training schools opening in the U.S. adapted the name and called themselves “normal” schools. In this case, normal refers to standards or norms: Everyone at the school was trained to teach the same material to all their students.

TU remained a normal school until 1935 when it transitioned to a teachers college with the ability to award baccalaureate degrees to graduates.

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Wilner Collection

For over 100 years, one of the hallmarks of TU’s campus was an elementary school. Here student teachers could observe how to manage classrooms and participate in student-teaching work on campus.

In 1949, the school, then called the “Lida Lee Tall School” (LLT) hired its first librarian, A. Isabel Wilner. She became a beloved fixture in the school and remained on staff until 1978. While working at LLT, Wilner began publishing books that included her drawings as well as collaborations between her and LLT students.

This spring, Special Collections and University Archives received a collection from the family of Pat Waters, former TU College of Education faculty member and close friend of Isabel Wilner. It holds many of Wilner’s distinctive drawings on a variety of materials.

Happy Birthday Towson University Marching Band

This fall marks the 40th year since TUMB officially took the field.

TU marching band

1974

In the fall, volunteer students met at a local bar then took the field during football games to play a raucous half-time show that culminated in them all falling to the field in a heap.  

The TU band performing for the first time

1980

When TU’s football program transitioned to Division II in 1979, the desire to establish a formal marching band became high on the list of administrators and students alike. The band first officially appeared on Sept. 20, 1980.

TU marching band at the Macy's parade

2019

Current director, John Miliauskas, has been the full-time director since 2004. Under his leadership, TUMB has gained many more members, acquired corporate sponsors, and performed in national parades like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2019.