Adventuring Inside Cortland County Historical Society:
Dr. James H. Hoose, First Principal of Cortland Normal School.
Dr. James H. Hoose

Another esteemed figure in the history of Cortland County is Dr. James H. Hoose (1835-1915). Although not a native of Cortland, Dr. Hoose is known to us as the first principal of the Cortland Normal School, elected in 1869 and serving for over twenty years until differences with the school board led to his dismissal in 1891. “Cortland College: An Illustrated History” by Leonard F. Ralston provides a fantastic overview of the character of Hoose and his influence as “one of the most controversial figures in American teacher education,” (“Cortland Normal School”, Carey Wentworth Brush). Dr. Hoose had visions of legitimizing teaching as a profession and garnering more respect for its practitioners. His passion for improving education as a practice shows clearly in his work, “Methods of Teaching,” published in 1879, one of many publications that Dr. Hoose produced in his lifetime. I encountered a copy on our library shelves and am so glad that I have had an opportunity to learn about this extraordinary man.

Apparently, in 1891 the Local Board of the State Normal and Training School of Cortland requested a resignation from Dr. Hoose, stating that strained relations between the board and Hoose were continuing to worsen and that “for the interest of the school…there should be a change in the principalship.” Dr. Hoose would respond, declining to resign and asserting his loyalty to the school as well as his integrity in performing his duty with “alacrity and cheerfulness.”
He uses the success of the school as evidence of this, and in his closing statement declares:

“There are hundreds of graduates and thousands of undergraduates of our school, whose eyes are upon this event. I have walked daily in and out before these young men and young women, since the school opened March 3, 1869, and have exhorted them to be honest and courageous in all walks in life and to be reliable in character; and reliability is to me unstained truth, unimpeachable rectitude, and invincible course in defending and maintaining right against wrong. I shall never consciously dishonor my family, my history, my students, my friends my profession, my fellow teachers in the Normal schools of the State and in the general fraternity, by any halting act of mine when I am contending for a great principle, as I am in this case. I most respectfully but firmly refuse to resign the principalship of the Cortland Normal school.”

Cortland Normal School
After his dismissal from Cortland Normal School, Dr. Hoose would end up in California where he took up work with the University of Southern California, became dean of the college of liberal arts and head of the department of philosophy. Upon his eightieth birthday, the faculty and student body of USC honored Dr. Hoose with the establishment of the James Harmon Hoose Hall, now the beautiful Hoose Library of Philosophy. He passed away later that same year and would be remembered as a profound scholar and earnest teacher. What an honor it is to be able to include Dr. James H. Hoose and his progressive ideas about education in Cortland County history. ~Sophie, Collections and Research Assistant

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