Middle Tennessee State University/Murfreesboro Little Theater

In the early twentieth century, as America transitioned from an agrarian economy to a machine-based one, a group of reformers called the Progressives believed they could help locals assimilate to that new world by providing new kinds of education. Middle Tennessee State University, TSU, ETSU and the University of Memphis were the outcome of those efforts in Tennessee, each dedicated to educating and training teachers; Middle Tennessee State Normal School opened with a two-year program on September 11, 1911. Kirksey-Old Main (KOM) was the campus’ first administrative and educational facility and its Ionic columns were a reference to the great Greek thinkers and educators (Plato, anyone?), seen by Progressive reformers as the standard for education.

As you head out the Bell Street gates to the selfie site, you will see another example of Progressive-era educational efforts: Campus School. By 1925, MTSU could offer students a Bachelor of Science in Education, and Campus School, founded in 1927, became the college’s hands-on learning lab for its students. Note it has columns similar to KOM. By 1943, the Tennessee General Assembly designated MTSU a state institution, renaming it Middle Tennessee State College. This new support allowed the college to expand its curriculum, and by 1965 it became Middle Tennessee State University.

As you walk down Bell Street to the Murfreesboro Little Theater (MLT), the site for this “selfie,” you will notice much of the architecture is 1920s Tudor style, typical for the Progressive era. And yet, look at MLT once you have arrived. Built in the 1930s by the National Youth Administration (NYA), a part of the New Deal that tried to end the Great Depression, the architecture looks distinctly different: built for local Boy Scouts, it looks more like a log cabin than a classical Greek structure. Its architecture reflects the New Deal’s belief that if one played in spaces that looked like a log cabin and learned about the pioneers who lived in spaces like this, perhaps the values associated with that era might help solve the Great Depression (Cedar Forest Lodge at Cedars of Lebanon State Park is another example). MLT will be closed when you arrive, but be sure to check out its schedule of upcoming plays at http://www.mltarts.com/.

In 2011, Middle Tennessee State University reached an academic milestone by celebrating its centennial. The History Department, one of the sponsors of this Scavenger Hunt, is one of the largest programs on campus with its nationally recognized Public History program that trains historians for museums, archives, heritage areas and other public representations of history. But the department also knows that, in an information age, professionally trained historians are useful in all fields, given their ability to write well, ask good analytical questions, and organize information.

Be sure to read the parking pages (listed below) in order to park your car on campus without getting a ticket. Park in the visitor lot in the MT One Stop (listed on campus maps as Students Services and Admission Center), unless you are MTSU faculty, staff or student. Then, park according to your MTSU parking permit.

For more information about Middle Tennessee State University you can visit the Student Services and Admission Center (MT One Stop). The address is 1830 Blue Raider Dr. You can also contact Dr. Kristine McCusker at Kristine.Mccusker@mtsu.edu or visit the following websites: