Exploring the history of Phoenix, Arizona, just for fun. Advertising-free, supported by my patrons on Patreon. Thank you!

Why ASU was called a Normal School when it first began in 1885

As an ASU grad, and someone who is interested in history, I have to admit that the first time I saw the school called “Tempe Normal School”, I thought it was pretty funny. When I went there, it wasn't normal, and I can't imagine that is nowadays.


Anyway, a Normal School is just the old-fashioned name for a school that specialized in teaching teachers, that is, a Teacher's College, which what the name of the school became in 1926, and in 1958 it became Arizona State University.

By the way, in case anyone asks you, and I doubt that they will, the original name of the team was the Normals. That's why the football players in the photo at the top of this post have an "N" on their jerseys. Then when the school changed its name to the Tempe State Teacher's College, it was the Bulldogs. Then in 1946, they became the Sun Devils, and the cartoon character that we know now was created by an ex-Disney cartoonist named Berk Antony.

Berk Antony and "Sparky"

So there you go. I am proud of being a Sun Devil, as I would have been of being a Bulldog, or being a Normal. Although I have to admit I like the sound of Sun Devil best!

Go Devils!

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  1. Correction.. the school became Arizona State College in 1945 and became Arizona State University in 1958. My mother went back to school to get her teaching degree. When she started the school was a college but by the time she was to graduate it had become a university.

    1. Hi Kathy - thanks for the correction! I see that my language in that paragraph was vague, and I corrected the date from 1954 to 1959.