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Identifier: UA 0036
  • Not requestable

  • Staff Only

Scope and Content

Diplomas, 1912-1941, is an artificial collection, comprised of thirteen diplomas and certificates issued to students at the State Normal and Industrial School for Women at Harrisonburg, later called the State Normal School for Women, State Teachers College at Harrisonburg, and the State Normal School Summer Session.

Of particular note is the Isabelle M. Bateman certificate, issued by State Department of Public Instruction, which contains a field for “race: white.” The Bateman certificate has four photographs adhered to reverse, with the following labels: Bettie Leffel, age 5; Uncle Arthur Davis; Grandmother Bateman; Uncle Arthur and Curtis Fawley.


  • Creation: 1912 - 1941


Access Restrictions

Collection open to research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the James Madison University Special Collections Library to use this collection.

Use Restrictions

Copyright for materials authored or otherwise produced as official business of James Madison University is retained by James Madison University. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user. For more information, contact the Special Collections Reference Desk (

Administrative History

Diplomas and certificates awarded by the State Normal and Industrial School reflected the various courses of study designed to prepare white women for teaching in rural Virginia schools. The first graduating class was June, 1911, in which twenty students received diplomas.

The Regular Normal Course was a program designed to prepare women to teach in public schools. At the school’s founding in 1909, the Regular Normal Course consisted of one to six years of study, and was open to students with little to no high school education. In 1910, entrance requirements were raised, and women had to have completed at least two years of high school or hold a teaching certificate as a result of a state examination in order to attend, which meant that the Regular Normal Course went from a six-year to a four-year course of study. By 1914, the first two years of the Regular Normal Course (the equivalent of the last two years of high school) was reformed as the two-year Preparatory Course, and upon completion, students received a First Grade High School Certificate. Completion of the third year of the Regular Normal Course entitled a student to receive the Professional Certificate, so long as certain teaching requirements were met. Those who completed the fourth year of the Regular Normal Course received the Full Normal diploma, which amounted to a lifetime teaching certificate requiring no ongoing maintenance.

The Professional Course was a two-year course designed for women who already had four years of high school, those who had completed the Preparatory Course, or who had already received a professional certificate. By 1915, students enrolled in the Professional Course had the option of pursuing specialized certification in Kindergarten and Primary grades, Intermediate and Grammar grades, or High School. A student that completed one year of the Professional Course received a Junior State Normal Certificate, or the Professional Certificate. Those who completed the two-year Professional Course received a Full Normal diploma.

Various other programs, namely Household Arts Program (later named Home Economics Course), Manual Arts, Industrial Arts Course, Kindergarten Training, among others, were offered in the early years, though enrollment was quite small relative to the Regular and Professional Courses.

The Harrisonburg Summer Session, which started in 1910, was designed to appeal to those already in teaching positions. In 1911, the State Board of Education authorized the Normal School to issue a Summer School Professional Certificate – one for primary school and one for grammar grades – awarded to students who completed courses in the two six-week summer terms in two separate years. The Summer Professional Certificate was considered more advanced than the First Grade Certificate. By 1916, the certificate requirements increased to three six-week terms over three separate summers, and in 1918 it was replaced by the Elementary Professional Certificate, which required still more study. A unique feature of the Harrisonburg Summer Sessions was that enrollment was also open to men.

In 1918, the State Normal School began to offer four year Bachelor programs in Home Economics and Elementary teaching. In 1934 the school officially became a liberal arts institution, able to issue Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees in Education.


0.3 cubic feet (1 folder)

Language of Materials



Diplomas, 1912-1936, is an artificial collection, comprising diplomas and certificates issued to students at the State Normal and Industrial School for Women at Harrisonburg, later called the State Normal School for Women, State Teachers College at Harrisonburg, and the State Normal School Summer Session.


Items are arranged chronologically in a single folder.

Acquisition Information

Items were collected from various donors over the years. The Ruth Taliaferro diploma (1915) was a gift of Mrs. Lois W. Gaynor; the Garland Hope Farrar diplomas (1915, 1916) were a gift of Henry B. Frazier, donated on December 7, 1994; the Pauline Miley diplomas (1918, 1920) and Mary Louise Overton diploma (1922), were a gift of Mrs. John W. Wilson; the Frances Beam diploma (1936) was a gift of her daughter, Connie Daniels; the Anna Virginia Hollar diploma (1931) was a gift of Diane Yerian, donated August 6, 2015; the Violetta Lorane Davis diplomas (1923, 1930) were gifts of Wendy Mathias, donated October 20, 2018; others are orphaned in the collection.


  • Dingledine, Raymond C. “Madison College, the First Fifty Years, 1908-1958.” Harrisonburg, VA: Madison College, 1959.

Processing Information

Collection was formerly given the collection number SU 93-0225, Diplomas in Carrier Library.

A Guide to Diplomas, 1912-1941
Sarah Roth-Mullet, Tiffany Cole
February 2018, November 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the James Madison University Libraries Special Collections Repository

820 Madison Drive
MSC 1706
Harrisonburg Virginia 22807
(540) 568-3612