From Ohio History Central
The National Normal University was a school established to train teachers in the nineteenth century. It was located in Lebanon, Ohio. The institution first opened its doors as the Southwestern Normal School on November 24, 1855. Throughout the years, the school changed its name several times. In 1870, the Southwestern Normal School became the National Normal School, and then in 1881, it became the National Normal University. In 1907, the institution changed its name to Lebanon University.
In the second half of the nineteenth century, the school experienced a significant amount of success. From the beginning, the school's enrollment was high. Students were charged a tuition of ten dollars for each eleven-week session that they attended. By 1860, approximately 375 students were enrolled. By the late 1880s, two thousand students attended classes at the university.
Unfortunately, the school suffered from financial difficulties by the early years of the twentieth century. Lebanon University closed in 1917 because of bankruptcy. Eventually, it merged with Wilmington College. By the time that the university closed in 1917, it claimed approximately eighty thousand graduates, who were called "Normalites."
The National Normal University illustrates the fact that Ohioans were placing more importance on education by the mid-nineteenth century. As more and more schools opened across Ohio, communities wanted to hire teachers who had additional training beyond the public school system. Institutions such as the National Normal University provided that additional training and began to develop education as a profession.