Wish You Were Here reflects the value of postcards as tools for learning about the past, with images drawn from Manuscript Group 213, Postcard Collection, Pennsylvania State Archives.

On a post card bearing an image entitled “Principal’s Quarters, Keystone State Normal School, Kutztown, Pa.,” and postmarked April 12, 1910, C. H. Yost inquired of Ella M. Kunkel, “Is the Normal crowded with new students this term? There are more here than there ever were.”

Miss Kunkel’s address at West Chester and, especially, “W.C.S.N.S.,” suggests she was a student at what is today West Chester State University of Pennsylvania. Even though the writer signed only his initials on this particular card, several post cards in Manuscript Group 213 (Post Card Collection) of the Pennsylvania State Archives, also sent to Kunkel, bear the same handwriting and the signature C. H. Yost.

Established in February 1866 as the Keystone Normal School, the institution was officially sanctioned on September 13, as “the State Normal School for the Third District.” Normal schools at the time were essentially teachers colleges, whose goal was to establish and maintain teaching standards, or “norms,” hence the designation. In 1928, the Keystone State Normal School was renamed Kutztown State Teachers College and in 1960, the name changed to Kutztown State College. The college achieved university status in 1983. Today, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania is one of fourteen state universities that make up the State System of Higher Education.“W.C.S.N.S.” on the post card refers to West Chester State Normal School, established in 1871 as a normal school to train teachers. However, researchers traced the school’s roots to the West Chester Academy, a private, state-aided institution that existed from 1812 to 1869. West Chester State Normal School was renamed West Chester State Teacher’s College in 1927 and in 1960, when the Commonwealth instituted a four-year program for teacher education leading to the bachelor’s degree, it became West Chester State College. In 1983, the college joined Kutztown as a university in the State System of Higher Education.

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission nominated the West Chester State College Quadrangle Historic District to the National Register of Historic Places. Entered in the National Register in 1981, the historic district contains several buildings constructed of native Chester County serpentine, a stone once favored by architects for its distinctive greenish hue.