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Lida Lee Tall School records

 Record Group
Identifier: 002-006-002-007

Scope and Contents

The collection is composed of materials related to the administration, operation, and various activities of the Lida Lee Tall School. Included are correspondence, meeting agendas and minutes, reports, policies, programs, historical materials, students’ writings and works, newspaper clippings, and other materials. There is also a scrapbook (1926-1932) containing black and white photographs of the faculty and students at the Normal Elementary School. The Addition of March 2013 chiefly contains materials from 1984-1992 related to the closing of the Lida Lee Tall School in 1991. Included are correspondence, notes, reports, newsletters, newspaper clippings and other items. The Addition of January 2014 consists of a hand-made album book made in 1938 by the fifth grade students of the Lida Lee Tall School containing hand-colored illustrations and text.

Dates

  • circa 1919 - 1992

Biographical / Historical

The Model School, as the Lida Lee Tall School was originally named, was primarily used as a campus demonstration elementary in the Maryland State Normal School, with the purpose to help train teachers. It began with the act of 1865 by the General Assembly of Maryland which provided for a “uniform system of free public schools for the State of Maryland.” That same act stipulated that the State Superintendent create a model primary and grammar school. Consequently, the first Lida Lee Tall School was opened in a rented house on Broadway, Baltimore City, in September 1866 under the supervision of Mary Borgman, and was conducted by one of the teachers of the State Normal School with the assistance of a number of students.

After only one year, the Model School was moved to a bigger house on Fayette Street. Then, in 1872, the school was moved once again to the Athenaeum Building at Charles and Franklin Streets. This was the first time that the Model School was housed in the same building as the State Normal School. With the relocation of the Maryland State Normal School to Towson in September 1915, the Model School was moved and housed in the basement and first floor of Stephens Hall. Although the new name of Normal Elementary School was introduced, the name of Model School persisted. Beginning in 1916, the Normal Elementary School becomes a free public school, with Baltimore County paying the salaries of several teachers, and the state covering the remaining expenses.

By the mid-1920s, around 260 children were enrolled in the school. With the rapid growth, an elementary school library was opened in February 1926, and by 1928, needs for better facilities became evident. Eventually, the Legislature of 1931 passed a bill to appropriate funds for the building of a new elementary school. Up to this time, the Normal Elementary School had occupied rooms in the Administration Building, sharing the space with the regular campus students. The new elementary school building was occupied in February 1933, the present-day Van Bokkelen Hall. Unfortunately, due to the financial depression engulfing the country, enrollment and budget cuts affected the operations of the entire school, and some of the staff in the Normal Elementary School was laid off.

In 1931, the State Normal School changed its program from a two-year to a three-year course of study, and then to a four-year degree-granting college in 1934. The following year its name was officially changed to the State Teachers College at Towson. These changes required rapid modifications and revisions in the Normal Elementary School’s curriculum. In 1942, the Normal Elementary School was renamed the Lida Lee Tall School, after the seventh principal and the first president of the State Teachers College at Towson, Lida Lee Tall. By 1959, plans for a new building were approved, and eventually erected in 1960, which was to accommodate around 550 students.

In 1968, the Board of Trustees of the Maryland State Colleges took steps to phase out its campus elementary (laboratory) schools, leading to reevaluations of the experiences, opportunities, and benefits of campus-affiliated laboratory schools. The Lida Lee Tall School was again threatened with closure in 1974, when similar schools in the state were shut down, but was mainly spared due to its historical significance, and the administrators agreeing to make the student body, as well as faculty, more diversified. The school was also directed to conduct more educational research, and become a greater resource for other agencies and schools.

The state’s budget reductions for higher education in the early 1980s resulted in yet another attempt to close the school by the Board of Trustees. In February 1981, a public hearing was held regarding the fate of the Lida Lee Tall School. More than 500 people attended the hearing to show their support of the school, and more than 50 speakers testified for its continuance. A petition was also endorsed by more than 400 full-time faculty from various departments within the University. Nonetheless, the Board of Trustees voted to close the school, leading to the request by Towson State University to have a separate Board and the present one dissolved. Accordingly, House Bill 1494 and Senate Bill 610 were introduced and passed by the 1982 General Assembly in support of the continued operation of the Lida Lee Tall School. The school ceased to be a program of the University, but utilized by students and faculty in teacher education. It became an independent elementary school, controlled by a new administration, the Education Coordinating Committee (ECC).

The Lida Lee Tall School, which by the early 1970s was referred to as the Lida Lee Tall Learning Resources Center, ceased its operations in 1991.

Extent

6.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials

English

Overview

The Lida Lee Tall School (originally named The Model School) was primarily used as a campus demonstration elementary to help train teachers in the Maryland State Normal School. It was established with the act of 1865 by the General Assembly of Maryland which provided for a “uniform system of free public schools for the State of Maryland.” That same act stipulated that the State Superintendent create a model primary and grammar school. The Lida Lee Tall School, which was later referred to as the Lida Lee Tall Learning Resources Center, ceased its operations in 1991.

Records of the Lida Lee Tall School are chiefly composed of materials related to its administration, operation, and other activities. Included are records of the school principals from the 1940s to the 1960s; administrative files; files of the Student Council; writings and other works from the school’s students; and general files. Items in the collection include correspondence, minutes and meetings, reports, policies, programs, historical materials, writings, catalogs, newspaper clippings, and other materials. There is also a scrapbook (1926-1932) containing black and white photographs of the faculty and students. The Addition of March 2013 chiefly contains materials from 1984-1992 related to the closing of the Lida Lee Tall School in 1991. Included are correspondence, notes, newsletters, reports, newspaper clippings, and other items. The Addition of January 2014 consists of a hand-made album book made in 1938 by the fifth grade students of the Lida Lee Tall School containing hand-colored illustrations and text.

Arrangement

Series 1. Records of the Principal, 1940s-1960s This series contains the records associated with the school principals from the 1940s to the 1960s. The materials include annual reports, meeting agendas and minutes, memoranda, reports, plans, policies, historical materials, and other items.

Series 2. Administrative Files, 1924-1982 Materials in this series relate to the general operation and administration of the Lida Lee Tall School. The bulk of the files are related to the issues surrounding the potential closing of the school in the early 1980s, including the transcript of the February 9, 1981 public hearing; files related to the operations of the Te-Pa-Chi (Teachers, Parents, Children) Club, an organization founded in March 7, 1919 under the leadership of Principal Mary Theresa Wiedefeld; and PTA (Parent Teacher Association) files.

Series 3. Student Council, 1894-1960s Materials in this series relate to the various activities associated with the Student Council. It includes meeting agendas, reports, newspaper clippings, letters, programs, and other items.

Series 4. Students’ Writings/Work, 1912-1979 This series consists of the writings, and other works created by the students of the Lida Lee Tall School. The bulk of the materials consist of booklets with poems, short stories, songs, drawings, and other projects. There are also photographs included in some of the booklets. Also included are materials, including the transcript and two black and white photographs, relating to the student’s performance of an operetta entitled, “The Coming of Spring.”

Series 5. General Files, 1909-1970s This series consists of general files of the Lida Lee Tall School, including reports, projects, course catalogs, newspaper clippings, materials related to the school library, and other miscellaneous items. There is also a scrapbook containing black and white photographs of the faculty and students at the Normal Elementary School.

Related Materials

UA00010_07 Principals and Presidents, Series 7: Lida Lee Tall Records
Title
Guide to the Lida Lee Tall School records
Author
Armando Suarez (updated by John Esh, 2020)
Date
March 2013
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the Towson University Special Collections and University Archives Repository

Contact:
Albert S. Cook Library
8000 York Rd
Towson MD 21252 United States