Turnlehrerseminar/Normal College of the American Gymnastic Union

Turnlehrerseminar/Normal College of the American Gymnastic Union

 

In the 1850s the American Turners began discussing the idea of establishing a school to train instructors for the Turner societies around the country. In 1866 the Turner national convention voted to start the school. Originally called the Turnlehrerseminar (Gymnastic Teachers Seminary), it held its first classes in November 1866 at the New York Turnverein. In January 1871 the school moved to Chicago in hopes of attracting more students. Unfortunately, the Great Chicago Fire in October 1871 destroyed the Chicago Turngemeinde building where the school was housed, forcing it to return to New York City in 1872. In 1875 the school relocated to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where the school enjoyed a period of stability and growth. The school increased its academic program from six months to three- and four-year programs. Enrollment increased, and the school began admitting women in 1877. Alumni began finding jobs in public schools as well as in Turner societies. The school moved to Indianapolis in 1907, where it took the name Normal College of the North American Gymnastic Union (the "North" was dropped in 1919). The need to add academic subjects outside of physical education for certification purposes and the financial and enrollment difficulties caused by the Great Depression forced the Turners to relinquish control of the school. After looking at various options, the school was merged with Indiana University in 1941. Today the school is known as the IU School of Physical Education and Tourism Management and is housed on the campus of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI).

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