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Black, Samuel Thorburn (1846-1917) | Special Collections & University Archives

Name: Black, Samuel Thorburn (1846-1917)

Historical Note:

The first president of San Diego Normal School, Samuel T. Black was selected for the post by the Normal School's Board of Trustees in October 1898.  He served as president until 1910.  Having previously been State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and having had numerous other administrative and teaching appointments throughout California, he entered the position with extensive experience. He brought professional activism and many solid connections in the educational world. 

Black was born in 1846, in northern England, to Scottish parents.  He came to the United States in search of an uncle the family had lost touch with, and upon finding him in Wisconsin, decided to stay in the US.  Though he spent his first year teaching in the Midwest, he eventually traveled to California, arriving in San Francisco in 1868.  Mr. Black had two children, the second of whom, Pauline Black, followed him into the teaching profession, and taught at the Normal School for several years.  In 1910 she and her father took a trip around the world. 

On September 1, 1910, Mr. Black officially stepped down as San Diego Normal School's president.  Enrollment had increased from 83 students the first year to nearly 400.  The original seven members of the teaching faculty that Black had assembled remained largely intact, and the addition of several new faculty members brought the total number of instructors to 19.  From 1913-1916 Black served as a member of the Board of Education of the City of San Diego.  He died in San Diego, March 23, 1917.

Note Author: Ellen E. Jarosz

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