Cyrus W. Hodgin


Indiana State Normal School






Cyrus W. Hodgin was a well respected professor during his nine years at Indiana State Normal School.  With his passion for the past, Professor Hodgin had the reputation of capturing and holding his students’ interest when he was lecturing.  Indeed, even during his short time at Indiana State Normal School, he became one of the most beloved and popular professors, thereby converting many a student to the study of history. 


Cyrus Hodgin was in fact the first full-time professor of history at Indiana State Normal School.  Until the founding of an actual Department of History in September 1872, history was taught by President Jones or another member of the staff not already overloaded with work.  As a recent graduate of Illinois State Normal University, Hodgin was thus hired in the fall of 1872 in order to provide Indiana Normal students with a certified and experienced guide in the study of the past.  Hodgin’s responsibilities at ISNS expanded soon thereafter, however.  Using funds donated by a benefactor in 1873 for the purchase of books, the school’s president acquired a good many volumes for the library, and then quickly delegated the responsibility for managing this growing collection to Hodgin.  In addition to these duties, Hodgin, along with Samuel Parr, launched a school newspaper in 1879 called the State Normal News.  Professors Hodgin and Parr became both promoters and editors of this small monthly newspaper, which cost subscribers fifty cents per year.


The Indiana State Normal School had been headed by President William A. Jones since the school’s founding in the late 1860’s.  He was the mastermind that united the school and got it off the ground.  He had also given special attention to finding enthusiastic and tireless workers to serve as professors.  Jones was very confident that he had organized and perfected a system that could run without his guidance, if necessary.  As a new school year began in 1878, that system was to be put to the test.  Jones had been suffering from an illness that worsened to such an extent that he felt he had to resign; however, he was held in such high esteem that the Board of Trustees asked him to reconsider and to take a leave of absence instead.  Significantly, Cyrus Hodgin was one of two professors then appointed to carry out presidential duties during Jones’ ensuing absence.  Hodgin readily accepted, and served in this regard for over a year until Jones finally resigned at the behest of his physician, and a new president, George P. Brown, was appointed. 


Unfortunately, Brown’s tenure as president was a rocky one, as he came to be particularly disliked by many faculty members who believed him to be taking their authority for his own.  The situation came to a head at a Board of Trustees meeting in the spring of 1881, at which none other than Cyrus Hodgin read a statement penned by himself and four other prominent faculty members condemning Brown’s leadership.  After investigating these charges, the Board found in Brown’s favor, and declared that the protesting faculty members should either forget their protest or resign.  All five authors of the petition, including Hodgin, immediately resigned.


Following his resignation, Hodgin remained in Terre Haute for a time to rest and to work for various civic institutions.  He soon accepted an offer to serve as Superintendent for the Rushville school system, but left this position shortly thereafter to direct a private normal school in Richmond, Indiana.  This did not hold his interest for long, however, and in 1887 he took up a post as professor of history at Earlham College, where he remained until his death in 1908.


Cyrus Hodgin married a fellow Illinois State Normal University graduate, Emily Chandler, in 1867; they had one child together.  Hodgin passed away on October 3, 1908.  At the time of his death, he still held the Chair of History and Political Economy at Earlham.  Having begun his teaching career in 1861, Hodgin had thus influenced students in Indiana for almost fifty years—eight of them at Indiana State Normal School, where he impacted both students and future teachers alike.



Kylei Tumey






“Cyrus W. Hodgin.”  The Normal Advance (October 1908). Terre Haute: Indiana State Teachers College, 1908.


Illinois State Normal University Alumni Registry, 1860-1882.  Accessed March 18, 2007.


Lynch, William O. A History of Indiana State Teachers College. Terre Haute: Indiana State Teachers College, 1946.