Henry Sabin Papers, c. 1871-1918
Title: Henry Sabin Papers, c. 1871-1918
Record Series: 01/01/02/01
Creator: Sabin, Henry
Date: c. 1871-1918
Extent: 1 box (0.42 linear feet)
Repository: Special Collections and University Archives, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa.
Language: Materials entirely in English.
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Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy or similar laws, and the Iowa Open Records Law (see Iowa Code § 22.7). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of Northern Iowa assumes no responsibility.
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Henry Sabin served as president of the Iowa State Normal School (later UNI) Board of Directors from 1888-1892 and 1894-1898. He was born on October 23, 1829, near Pomfret, Connecticut. He was educated in New England common schools, including Woodstock Academy and Amherst College. After gaining the experience required for teaching, he taught in Connecticut, New Jersey, and Illinois before relocating to Iowa in the late 1860s.
Sabin served as Superintendent of Schools in Clinton, Iowa, from 1871-1887. Working in this capacity, he became aware of American public school system’s inherent problems and committed his life to finding and implementing solutions. During his tenure as superintendent, he was among the final three candidates for the Iowa State Normal School’s first president. In 1878, he was elected president of the Iowa State Teachers Association.
From 1896-1897, Sabin was chair of the National Education Association Committee on Rural Schools. The Committee’s final report recommended consolidation, efficiency, and professional teacher training as solutions for the deficiencies of rural education. Sabin was influential in improving Iowa’s educational standards and the report echoed his belief that, “The school must be the aid, the active ally of civilization, from a humanitarian standpoint as well as from that of the arts and sciences. A human education is necessary to the growth and preservation of a civilization, which is humane in its nature.”
As President of the Iowa State Normal School Board of Directors, Sabin worked closely with President Homer H. Seerley to ensure that teachers and students in Iowa were well-educated and worked to improve state educational standards overall. During his tenure, ISNS secured the ability to certify normal school graduates on the basis of training rather than examination; established the training school for observation and practice teaching; developed special curricula for the training of teachers for different areas of public school work; and procured appropriations for campus improvements and construction projects. Additionally, Sabin was influential in laying the foundation to transition the Iowa State Normal School (1876-1909) to the Iowa State Teachers College (1906-1961).
Following his retirement, Sabin taught at Highland Park College in Des Moines and lectured around the Midwest. He also operated a “Teachers’ Exchange” in Des Moines, assisting teachers in finding positions. Sabin served as editor for Midland Schools (1988-1907) and the Iowa edition of the Western Teacher (1901) and authored two books, Talks to Young People (1899) and Common Sense Didactics (1903). He co-authored The Making of Iowa (1900) and Early American History for Young Americans (1904) with his sons, Elbridge and Edwin.
Sabin passed away on March 22, 1918.
Scope and Content
The Henry Sabin Papers contains biographical materials and a selection of Sabin’s writings. Also included is one piece about Sabin. Please see the inventory for a complete list.
- Folder 1: Biographical Material
- Folder 2: “Life of Henry Sabin” by Clarence Ray Aurner
- Folder 3: "Aaron Burr and the Men of His Time" by Henry Sabin
- Folder 4: “The American School” by Henry Sabin
- Folder 5: "DeSoto" by Henry Sabin
- Folder 6: "The Hidden River – Marquette" by Henry Sabin
- Folder 7: "Horace Mann" by Henry Sabin
- Folder 8: “Inaugural Address: Delivered Before the State Teachers’ Association of Iowa” by Henry Sabin, December 26, 1878
- Folder 9: "LaSalle" by Henry Sabin
- Folder 10: "My Educational Creed" by Henry Sabin
- Folder 11: "The New vs. The Old" by Henry Sabin
- Folder 12: "The Power of the Teacher's Profession" by Henry Sabin
- Folder 13: "The Practical Side of School Life" by Henry Sabin, 1891
- Folder 14: "The Public School Library and Its Use" by Henry Sabin
- Folder 15: “Some Puritan Traits” by Henry Sabin
- Folder 16: “The Sources of Real Strength” by Henry Sabin
- Folder 17: "What Can Be Done By Educators to Enlighten and Arouse the People and Excite Public Sentiment in Favor of Education" by Henry Sabin
- Folder 18: "What Present Means Are Available for the Preparation of Teachers for Their Work" by Henry Sabin
- Folder 19: Common Sense Didactics for Common School Teachers by Henry Sabin. Rand, McNally & Company: Chicago, 1903
- Folder 20: Talks to Young People by Henry Sabin. The Education Exchange, Publishers: Des Moines, Iowa, 1899
- “Henry Sabin, L.L.D.” The Normal Eyte, June 12, 1897. https://indexuni.library.uni.edu/page-image/ni189600000393jpg.
- “Official.” The Normal Eyte, February 5, 1898. https://indexuni.library.uni.edu/page-image/ni189700000245jpg.
Collection initially arranged and finding aid created by University Archivist Gerald L. Peterson, late 1970s; prepared for the Web by Graduate Assistant Amy Rekward and Assistant Archivist Dustin S. Witsman, April 2015. Updated by Library Associate Dave Hoing, April 2017, October 2017, and February 2018. Updated by Archival Processor Tessa Wakefield, March 2020. Linear feet updated August 8, 2017.