The Jacket Journal is born

The mastheads from previous years of the student newspaper.

The Black Hills State University newspaper has gone through many changes since it was first printed in November of 1902. The newspaper was originally called The Normal and, according to the first edition, was created to “sustain the bond of fellowship and interest between graduates and those still in school”.

The Normal was a monthly periodical published by the junior class of what was at the time named the State Normal School. The school opened in April of 1884 as a professional training school for teachers and by 1885 had only fourteen enrolled students.

The Normal touted the school’s slogans which were “The horizon widens as we climb,” and “From possibility to reality”. The first printed copy of The Normal says that the faculty was enthusiastic about the idea of a school newspaper and had the “hearty cooperation of class members”.

In subsequent editions, the staff encouraged contributors to “press on and make stepping stones of their mistakes”. At the same time it encouraged them to be “not too exultant over successes.” Editors said they were ready to listen and welcomed suggestions.

When the paper started in 1902, subscription rates were fifteen cents per copy – a yearly subscription was just one dollar. The Normal was about the size of an average playbook and the cover was grey.

Inside were stories about student activities and play-by-play accounts of sporting events like tennis, golf, basketball and football. There was also a Joke section, and a Society section that mentioned parties thrown by faculty — many of which were held at their own homes. One story also detailed an eclipse-watching party. Student absences also made the news.

Space was also reserved for advertisements. There were ads for a sporting goods store, the Bank of Spearfish, and the store Irwin & Ralph who deemed themselves “druggists” that sold, among other things, “toilet articles and perfume.”

Many aspects of newspaper have changed over the years while many have stayed the same. Today the student-run newspaper is called the Jacket Journal. It still serves the purpose of keeping current students and alumni connected and it still advertises local businesses. Sporting events are still an important part of the University’s news, however, nowadays student absences are privacy-protected and are generally not considered newsworthy.

Compared to the early 1900’s playbook-style of The Normal, the current layout of the Jacket Journal is more like a traditional twentieth century newspaper. Many items in the Jacket Journal are in color instead of black and white. Photos are now a standard inclusion, whereas early newspapers did not feature them on a regular basis.

The Case Library at BHSU still has the first printed copy of The Normal, as well as editions from almost every newspaper printed in the school’s 130-year history.