William O. Lynch


Indiana State Normal School






William Orlando Lynch began his career at Indiana State Normal School (ISNS) as a student, but would eventually return to become an Assistant Professor in the History Department and even pen his own history of the school later in life.  Though Lynch divided his academic life among a variety of schools and universities, his roots with ISNS prepared him to contribute to the fields of history and education throughout the rest of his life.


Lynch was born on September 10, 1870 in Delphi, Indiana.  He began his calling as a teacher in 1890 in country schools, also serving as principal of town schools in Yeoman and Camden, Indiana.  He began his association with ISNS in 1891, when he enrolled as a student and took on the duties of the first Associate Editor of The Normal Advance, a student-published magazine.  Lynch was in charge of writing editorials and examining materials submitted by various contributors.  Volume I, No. I of The Normal Advance premiered in November of 1895.  In his last article before graduating, Lynch reflected on the accomplishments of his fellow 1896 classmates, particularly with regard to founding the magazine, noting that The Advance successfully reflected the life and spirit of students at ISNS.  Following graduation, Lynch taught for five years in Elkhart High School in Elkhart, Indiana.


In 1901 Lynch enrolled at Indiana University, where he graduated with an A.B. degree in 1903.  He then returned to Elkhart High School for five more years as head of the History Department.  From there he went on to the University of Wisconsin, where he received his Master’s degree in 1908.  Later that year, Lynch joined the faculty of ISNS as Assistant Professor of History.  At that time there were actually two departments teaching history at the school.  Lynch divided his time equally between both as Acting Professor until he became head of the Department of American History and Government in 1913.  He retained this position until 1918, with a brief leave in 1911-1912 when he pursued graduate work at Harvard University as an Austin Scholar.


As a member of the Centennial Committee at ISNS in 1916, Lynch wrote, managed, and directed the production of the centennial drama, which re-created scenes from the history of Indiana from 1816 through 1865.   The cast was composed entirely of ISNS faculty and students; the play’s script can still be found in the 1917 edition of The Normal Advance.


In 1918 it was determined that a new division of ISNS would be opened in Muncie, Indiana.  Lynch was selected by President Parsons to transfer to this new Eastern Division, which would eventually become Ball State Teachers College. Lynch served as the head of the History Department at the new institution, but his time there would be brief.  In 1920 he became a professor of history at Indiana University, serving in that position until his retirement in 1941.  His accomplishments continued to accrue while at IU, where he became the editor of the Indiana Magazine of History.  He was also a charter member and the first president of the History Club at IU, and a member of the Sigma Pi social fraternity, as well as several other organizations.  In 1925 and 1927 he taught summer sessions at the University of Alabama and another at the University of Tennessee in 1930.  He also served as president of the Mississippi Valley Historical Association in 1938-1939.


Lynch was particularly interested in the early history of political parties and wrote a book on the subject entitled Fifty Years of Party Warfare.  After his retirement from IU in 1941, he lived for many years in Selma, Alabama with his wife, having come to love the South after teaching its history for so many years.  Even after his numerous academic endeavors at a variety of universities across the country, Lynch maintained a strong connection to ISNS.  In 1944 he was commissioned by ISNS President Ralph N. Tirey to write the history of the school as part of its 75th anniversary celebration in 1945.  The result was A History of Indiana State Teachers College, published in Terre Haute in 1946.  Interestingly, Lynch incorporated a good many autobiographical perspectives concerning his own experiences at ISNS throughout the text of this book—a stylistic choice that clearly bears witness to the loyalty he felt towards ISNS even years after his departure.  Lynch was remembered as a conscientious teacher who devoted more than half a century to instructing the youth of Indiana, and as a patient and trusted counselor helping students advance in their chosen fields.



Kimberly Dickman






Lynch, William O.  A History of Indiana State Teachers College:  Indiana State Normal School 1870-1929.  Indianapolis:  Book Walter Company, 1946.

Memorial Resolution on the Death of Professor Emeritus William O. Lynch.  Indiana University Archives:  Bloomington, Indiana.

The Normal Advance (Volume I: 1895, Volume XVI: 1910, Volume XX: 1915, and Volume XXII: 1917).  Indiana State University Archives:  Terre Haute, Indiana.

“Dr. W.O. Lynch Writes History of I.S.T.C.”  The Indianapolis Star:  June 22, 1947.  Indiana State University Archives:  Terre Haute, Indiana.

Photograph from The Normal Advance 1915.  Indiana State University Archives:  Terre Haute, Indiana.


Selected Published Works


A History of Indiana State Teachers College:  Indiana State Normal School 1870-1929.  Indianapolis:  Book Walter Company, 1946.

Fifty Years of Party Warfare (1789-1837).  Indianapolis:  The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1931.