Bowie State University: A Historical Timeline

Founded in 1865, Bowie State University is Maryland's oldest historically black college or university (HBCU). The university has a rich legacy of providing academic excellence and access to education.

Bowie State University continues to make a significant impact in the state of Maryland. The university evolved from a normal school teaching the elements of education to the state’s Black citizens denied access to state-funded schools immediately following the abolition of slavery. Today, it is a comprehensive liberal arts university that offers a holistic, nurturing learning experience for students and prepares them to make positive contributions to the community.

1863-01-01 20:28:02

Emancipation Proclamation Put Into Effect for 10 Confederate States

The Emancipation Proclamation declared free the slaves in Confederate-held lands, including 10 states not then under Union control.

1864-11-01 11:35:37

Maryland Frees its Slaves with New Constitution

The new state constitution simultaneously emancipates Maryland's 87,000 slaves and establishes the state's first free public school system.

1864-12-15 11:35:37

Association Forms to Establish Schools for Newly Freed Slaves

The Baltimore Association for the Moral and Educational Improvement of Colored People is formed to establish schools for the state’s black citizens.

1865-01-01 11:35:37

Leonard Waterman, Principal, 1865-1866

Under the direction of Leonard Waterman, the founding of the first “free school” for colored children is established.

1865-01-09 11:35:37

School #1, Precursor to Bowie State, Opens in Baltimore

School #1, the precursor to Bowie State University, offers courses in the elements of education. The normal school opens in 1866.

1865-03-03 11:35:37

Freedmen’s Bureau is Established

The U.S. government forms the Freedmen’s Bureau, which provides aid to newly emancipated slaves in the Reconstruction era after the Civil War ends.

1865-06-01 11:35:37

Civil War Officially Ends

The Civil War ends when the Confederates sign the Union negotiators’ surrender terms.

1866-01-01 00:00:00

H.F. Hartwell, Principal, 1866-1869

Not only did Hartwell serve as principal, but he was also designated as the sole faculty member of the Normal School.

1867-01-01 00:00:00

Predecessor to Morgan State University Opens in Baltimore

The institution was founded as the Centenary Biblical Institute by the Baltimore Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

1867-12-16 11:35:37

Baltimore Normal School for Colored Teachers Relocated

The school relocates to the renovated Friends Meeting House at Courtland and Saratoga streets in Baltimore (Source: Drs. Simmons unpublished manuscript).

1869-01-01 00:00:00

P.J. Doran, Principal, 1869-1870

While principal, Doran was tasked with arranging the school into a four-tier division, including primary, grammar, normal and preparatory teachings.

1870-01-01 00:00:00

Anne Coore, Principal, 1870-1872

Under Coore's leadership, the Normal school experienced a considerable decrease in the number of pupils.

1871-06-08 11:35:37

School Receives Donation from the Will of a Former Slave

The Baltimore Normal School for Colored Teachers received a donation of $3,500 from the trustees of the will of Nelson Wells.

1872-01-01 00:00:00

Professor M.H. Newell, Principal, 1872-1893

When Professor Newell was principal, the school had operated a grammar school and normal school for training teachers since 1867.

1886-09-13 00:00:00

Predecessor to University of Maryland Eastern Shore Founded

The institution was initiated in Princess Anne as the Delaware Conference Academy under the auspices of the Delaware Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

1893-01-01 00:00:00

Professor Alexander Chaplain, Principal, 1893

1900-09-01 11:35:37

Predecessor to Coppin State University is Founded in Baltimore

Coppin State University was founded by the Baltimore City School Board at the Colored High School (now known as Frederick Douglass High School).

1908-04-01 11:35:37

George Harrison, Principal, 1893-1911

Harrison led the school after it was reorganized to eliminate the grammar school and focus exclusively on training teachers through the normal school.

1908-11-06 11:35:37

State of Maryland Provides Funding for the School

The Baltimore Normal School Board requests support from the state legislature and state Board of Education, which is granted in 1908.

1909-02-01 11:35:37

NAACP is Founded

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is founded partly in response to the practice of lynching.

1910-06-01 11:35:37

State of Maryland Purchases Land in Bowie to Relocate the School

The state of Maryland purchases 187 acres of land for $5,300 to relocate the school.

1910-09-29 11:35:37

National Urban League is Founded

The Committee on Urban Conditions Among Negroes, now known as the National Urban League, is established in New York City.

1911-06-16 11:35:37

Graduation Ceremony for Baltimore Students is Held in Bowie

Five students from the Baltimore Normal School participated in a graduation ceremony at the Bowie location, marking the continuation of the school.

1911-09-02 11:35:37

Don Speed Smith Goodloe, 1911-1921

Don Speed Smith Goodloe is the first principal of Maryland Normal and Industrial School at Bowie.

1911-09-25 11:35:37

School Officially Opens in Bowie

The school reopens in Bowie under the name of Maryland Normal and Industrial School at Bowie.

1915-11-01 00:00:00

Goodloe Builds His Home Near the School

Goodloe builds a brick house for his private residence off Jericho Park Road across railroad tracks near school.

1919-06-01 11:35:37

Red Summer of 1919

The Red Summer refers to the summer and fall of 1919 when race riots exploded in several cities in the North and South.

1919-11-01 00:00:00

Courses in Manual Arts are Offered

The main school building now contains classrooms, kitchen, dining room, and accommodation for male students.

1920-11-01 00:00:00

Opportunity to Earn Second-Grade Teaching Certificate

Students will now be able to earn a first-grade certificate after three years of high school, as well as take courses in professional subjects in their fourth year to earn a second-grade certificate. The library’s holding has expanded to 1,000 volumes. Board is $12/month, and the deposit for books and property is $4. Students awarded a partial scholarship will have board reduced to $7/month, but they must graduate and vow to go into teaching to avoid owing full board.

1921-11-01 00:00:00

Dr. Leonidas S. James, 1921-1938; President, 1938-1942

Dr. James administered improvements such as increasing enrollment and raising entrance requirements.

1921-11-01 00:00:00

Harriet Tubman Hall is Opened

The women’s dormitory can house 48 students. A third floor is added in 1925.

1922-06-01 00:00:00

First Two-Year Degree Student Graduates

The Maryland Normal and Industrial School at Bowie graduates its first two-year degree student.

1922-10-01 00:00:00

First Administration Building Destroyed by Fire

The main school building is destroyed by fire.

1922-11-01 00:00:00

Modern Conveniences are Added to the Campus

Female students must wear uniforms, including a dark blue serge and white Middy Blouse, Middy tie, and gingham or sateen petticoats.

1927-11-01 00:00:00

Campus is Comprised of Four Buildings

By 1927, there are four campus buildings: Banneker Hall, Tubman Hall, B.K. Bruce, and the Farm House.

1928-06-01 11:35:37

Beatrice Pitts Payne ('28)

Born in April 1909, Ms. Payne is our oldest living alumna.

1928-06-07 00:00:00

Last High School Class Graduates

The school graduates its last class of high school students, as authorized by the state Board of Education.

1929-11-01 00:00:00

Alma Mater Song, Written by Charlotte B. Robinson, Published

The 1929-30 Announcement and Catalogue displays the Alma Mater song, written by Charlotte B. Robinson, on the inside of the front cover.

1932-11-01 00:00:00

Music Programs Flourish

The music programs include an orchestra, Men’s Glee Club, Girls’ Glee Club, Mixed Glee Club, and Girls’ Quartette.

1935-11-01 00:00:00

Four-Year Program for Teachers is Established

Students can now enroll in a four-year program for training elementary school teachers. The 1935-37 Announcement reports that out-of-state students admitted if they pledge to teach two years in the state of Maryland after graduation. As of fall 1934, the school began operating as a three-year State Normal School, with the hope of adding a fourth year in near future to become a State Teachers’ College.

1938-09-01 00:00:00

School Becomes a State Teachers College

The school’s name changes to Maryland Teachers College at Bowie, reflecting the introduction of a collegiate teaching program.

1938-09-01 00:00:00

Student Newspaper, The College Eye, is Established

The College Eye is student newspaper.

1939-11-01 00:00:00

Alumni Association is Established

The Alumni Association meets for Home Coming Day and Commencement.

1941-11-01 00:00:00

Joseph Alexander Wiseman, Interim President, 1941-1942

1941-11-01 00:00:00

First Four-Year Class Graduates

The class of students who started the four-year degree program graduate.

1942-11-01 00:00:00

Dr. William Edward Henry, President, 1942-1967

Dr. Henry’s long tenure represents an institutional transition from a small teachers training tradition to a full fledged Liberal Arts College. Henry was affectionately denoted has “the man of the hour”.

1943-06-01 00:00:00

Barbara Fletcher Martin ('43)

Ms. Martin was a longtime educator in Maryland schools and served as chair of the Prince George's County School Board.

1947-06-01 00:00:00

John Sidney Sheppard ('47)

John Sidney Sheppard is a loyal supporter of Bowie State University and has remained connected to his alma mater through his leadership and service.

1959-05-01 11:35:37

Wiseman Earns Doctoral Degree

Joseph Alexander Wiseman is the first African-American awarded a doctoral degree by the University of Maryland.

1961-11-01 00:00:00

Secondary Education Training Program is Established

Teacher training program for secondary education begins.

Bowie State University: A Historical Timeline

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