Elizabeth City State University’s Beginnings, 1891

Principal Peter W. Moore and students at what’s now Elizabeth City  State University in 1899.

On March 3, 1891, legislation passed creating a Normal and Industrial School in Elizabeth City. The school was founded with the express purpose of “teaching and training teachers of the colored race to teach in the common schools of North Carolina.”

The bill began in the House of Representatives and was championed by Hugh Cale, an African American who represented Pasquotank County. Cale, who was a free person of color before the Civil War, had been involved in African American education immediately following the Civil War and served on the Pasquotank County Board of Education.The campus of what’s now Elizabeth City State University, circa 1938-39.

The Normal School extended its mission under the guidance of its first principal, Peter Weddick Moore. In 1937, it expanded from a two-year program to a four-year teacher’s college and received a new name to reflect that change–Elizabeth City Teachers College. The first bachelor’s degree was awarded by the school in 1939 in elementary education.

In 1972, the college became part of the consolidated University of North Carolina system and was renamed Elizabeth City State University. To commemorate the school’s centennial in 1991, the General Assembly honored Cale and the university with a bill setting a special mock session.

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