Joseph Baldwin, son of Joseph
and Isabella (Cairns) Baldwin, was born near New Castle, PA on
October 31, 1827. After completing his secondary education at
Bartlett Academy in New Castle in 1848, Baldwin entered Bethany
College, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in 1852. While
at Bethany, he lived in the home of the school's founder and
President, Rev Alexander Campbell, founder of the Disciples of
Christ Church. He received an honorary LLD from Bethany in
Prepared for the Disciples of Christ
ministry, but newly married and needing to earn a living, Baldwin
moved to Missouri and entered the teaching profession. He
taught in the Platte City Academy for a year then was Principal of
Savannah Normal Institute, 1854-56. In the spring of 1856, he
helped organize the Missouri State Teachers Association and was
elected Vice President. That fall he returned to Pennsylvania
and enrolled at Lancaster County Normal School for a year's training
as a teacher.
From 1857 to 1863, Baldwin
conducted normal schools at Burnettsville and Kokomo, IN. When the Civil
War intervened, he organized a company of the Kokomo students for military
service and closed the school to serve as an officer in the Union Army, 1863-64.
After the war, he moved to Logansport where he became Principal of both
Logansport Seminary and Cass County Normal School.
1867, Baldwin decided to open his own normal school. After consultation
with Major J.B. Merwin of St Louis, editor of the American Journal of
Education, and at the urging of his own kinsman, J.J. Grigsby of
Kirksville, MO, he selected Kirksville as the location. He was offered the
use of the empty Cumberland Academy building, and on September 2, 1867, the
North Missouri Normal School and Commercial College opened its doors.
Three years later, the Missouri Legislature provided for the creation of a state
normal school system and Baldwin, who was named a member of the organizing Board
of Regents, offered his school to the state. His offer was accepted and
the school came under state control as the First District Normal School on
December 29, 1870. Baldwin was named President.
Baldwin remained in Kirksville
until 1881 then accepted the Presidency of the Normal Institute at Huntsville,
TX (now Sam Houston State University). In 1891 he took the newly created
Chair of Pedagogy at the University of Texas and remained there until his
retirement in 1897, when he was named Professor Emeritus. He continued to
live in Austin until his death, January 13, 1899, and is buried there.
Joseph Baldwin's wife, Ella Sophronia
Fluhart, was also a teacher. They married in Wascon, OH on
August 26, 1852, and became the parents of nine children: Anabel (Mrs
GW Sublette), Olivia, Coramantha (Mrs JB Haston), Joseph R, Harold,
Norma (Mrs CD Kinney), and Zoe (Mrs WJ Sublette); also Victor and
Rachel who died in early childhood.
He was the author of several books on
education which became the standards of the profession: Art of
School Management (1880), Elementary Psychology and
Education (1887), Psychology Applied to the Art of Teaching
(1892), and School Management and School Methods (1897).
Two Baldwin Halls ("Old" Baldwin
burned in 1924; "New" Baldwin was built in 1938) on the campus of
the school at Kirksville have been named for him. His portrait
hangs in the Presidents Gallery and his stature, dedicated on his
100th birthday, stands prominently in the central "Quad".