More about Moore

Friday, June 25, 2010


St. Cloud State’s founding leader, Ira Moore, went on to become the founding leader of University of California, Los Angeles. This intriguing piece of trivia came to light this year when a historian sent documentation that St. Cloud Normal School’s first principal, Ira Moore, later was the first principal of the California State Normal School in Los Angeles.

Yale graduate Moore was hired in 1869 to lead St. Cloud’s new training school for teachers, which later evolved into St. Cloud State Teachers College, St. Cloud State College and St. Cloud State University. He left Minnesota in 1875 to become a professor at the San Jose Normal School in California, then was named first principal of the California State Normal School in Los Angeles, a position he held from 1883-98. In 1919 the normal school became the University of California at Los Angeles, currently said to be the university with the highest number of applicants in the United States.

One aspect of this exciting story is puzzling. Sometime during his move from Minnesota to California, Ira Moore turned into Ira More. Despite considerable historical information about this ubiquitous launcher of U.S. normal schools (he also was second in command at the founding of the Illinois Normal School at Bloomington – now Illinois State University), the reason behind his dropped “o” remains a mystery.

St. Cloud State Archivist Tom Steman has unearthed birth records from York, Maine; census records from Illinois and Minnesota; early course catalogs and two universities’ histories that prove Moore spelled his last name with two letters “o” until he left Minnesota. However, all California records, including normal school histories and his colorful obituary in the Oct. 29, 1897, Los Angeles Times, list him as Ira More. Somewhere between St. Cloud and San Jose, our founding principal decided that less was more when it came to spelling his name.

  • Before coming to St. Cloud, Moore had been furloughed from the Illinois 33rd Volunteer Infantry because of health problems that were said to plague him until his death by suicide in 1897.
  • After teaching in Massachusetts and Chicago, Moore served as assistant principal for the Illinois Normal Institution (later Illinois State University) established in 1857.
  • In 1883 Ira More was named the first principal of the Los Angeles State Normal School.

- Past times at St. Cloud State University

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