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Nicholas Tillinghast (1804-1856) was the first principal of the State Normal School at Bridgewater, serving from the school’s opening in September 1840 until failing health compelled his resignation in July 1853. His term saw the successful transition from the experimental status of the state normal schools in Massachusetts to their status as permanent State institutions. This was exemplified by the dedication in 1846 of the first State Normal School Building in America. The school, under Tillinghast, was based upon the “fine art of teaching,” not the “lecture-examination” or “recitation-examination” model common at the time.

The collection has two main categories. Box 1 contains all original material dating to the life of Nicholas Tillinghast—primarily correspondence and business related records of the early days of the Bridgewater Normal School. Box 2 is all secondary sources relating to the life of Tillinghast—biographical information, past research material including genealogy, copies of parts of past publications containing content on Tillinghast, and copies of the two books that he authored. Student records from the years he was principal are not included.



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