These last few weeks before the College is back in session are quiet around town with most of the camps finished for the summer and few students milling about. Not like it was at the turn of the 19th Century. Back then, and for nearly 25 years, summers in Amherst were home to a bustling and vibrant summer school of languages and one of the first schools in the country for librarians.
The Normal School of Languages
Dr. Lambert Sauveur founded the Normal School of Languages at Amherst College in 1877. Sauveur was one of the first teachers in America to employ the natural method for teaching languages. Now a common method for teaching and learning foreign languages, at the time the natural method (where all instruction is conducted in the target language) was considered a breakthrough innovation.
The Normal School was intended for but not limited to teachers. Tuition for the six week course was on average $16 and the school attracted about 200 students a year.