Valley City Times-Record

Dakota Datebook

Mayville State University

- By Merry Helm “Dakota Datebook” is

December 1, 2022 — Mayville State University opened its doors as Mayville Normal School on this date in 1890.

Mayville Normal struggled financiall­y during its first six years. The panic of 1893 caused Governor Roger Allin to veto many education appropriat­ions, and the school’s future was uncertain. Enrollment fluctuated between one and two hundred students, taught by only six faculty members. The school’s six department­s included English, history and geography, mathematic­s, the natural sciences, music and drawing, and the final department, Latin.

One student who came to Mayville in 1896 was Usher Burdick, who later became a high-profile politician in North Dakota. He enrolled late that year because of commitment­s to a threshing crew. There was no room for him in the male dormitory, and it was finally arranged for him to board with the school janitor’s family until Christmas. When Burdick took his entrance exams, he failed arithmetic and history and had to repeat two elementary courses, which he found both humbling and enlighteni­ng.

In 1897, the legislatur­e overrode Gov. Frank Brigg’s veto on education spending, and Mayville Normal’s future was stabilized. That year, the school hired Joseph Carhart as its new president. Historian Elwyn Robinson wrote, “...bearded, experience­d Joseph Carhart, with his black skullcap, brought a golden age. He was considered one of the ablest normal-school administra­tors in the nation.” a radio series from Prairie Public in partnershi­p with the State Historical Society of North Dakota and with funding from Humanities North Dakota. See all the Dakota Datebooks at prairiepub­, subscribe to the “Dakota Datebook” podcast, or buy the Dakota Datebook book at shopprairi­

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