Joseph Baldwin

Joseph Baldwin


Oct. 31, 1827:
Newcastle, PA

Sep. 2, 1867:
Opens First Missouri Normal School and Commercial College, Kirksville, MO

Becomes 3rd President of SHSU

Resigns from presidency

Taught at University of Texas at Austin

Jan. 13, 1899:
Austin, TX

Captain Joseph A. Baldwin was the third president (or principal) of SHSU (then Sam Houston Normal Institute) (1881-91).

Educated at Bartlett's Academy near his hometown, Baldwin enrolled in Bethany College (Bethany, WV) in 1848 and graduated from there with a B.A. in 1852. He perused collegiate positions in Missouri in Platte City (1853) and Savannah (1855) and helped found the Missouri State Teachers Association in 1856, becoming its Vice President. The following year he enrolled at Lancaster County Normal School in his native Pennsylvania to receive training specific preparing teachers for the classroom.

Baldwin opened the Indiana Normal in 1858, the state’s first Normal School and the fifth in the United States.

From mid-1863 to early-1864 Baldwin served in the Indiana Infantry during the American Civil War.

In 1867 Baldwin founded the North Missouri Normal School and Commercial College in Kirksville, Missouri (now Truman State University). In 1870 the school was designated as the first public teaching college in Missouri and Baldwin served as its first president.

He resigned the position in 1881 to assume leadership of Sam Houston Normal Institute. With a need for additional teaching space, he oversaw the Austin College Building renovated to add a third floor and the Main Building built - becoming the second structure on campus.

Baldwin received an honorary LL.D. from Bethany College in 1891. That same year he left Huntsville to accept the chair of the Pedagogy Department at the University of Texas at Austin. He retired as Professor Emeritus in 1897 and died two years later.

SHSU first honored Baldwin by a stained glass window presented by the graduating class of 1899; it was installed in the Memorial Hall of Old Main. The 1918 Education Building was renamed in his honor but this came a few years prior to that building being demolished. Today a student residence carries his name.

Truman University has had its own buildings named in honor of its founder and, on October 27, 1927, the centenary of his birth, errected a statue of Baldwin on the south end of its quadrangle.

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The Buildings of Sam Houston State University website documents the physical changes of the SHSU campus in Huntsville from its inception in 1879 through tomorrow. The alumnus-run site details changes to the academic, residential, and historical buildings and other prominent landmarks.