marshall center school
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University of Northern Iowa


Celebrating our educational history

marshall center schoolMarshall Center School

Corner of Indiana St. & W 23rd St.
Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0199
1 block east of the UNI-Dome
Ph: 319-273-2188
Fax: 319-273-6924
Map and directions

Open by appointment, 319-273-2188

Learning from the Past

The Marshall Center School is an active reminder of Iowa's historically prominent role in quality education, the role of the University of Northern Iowa in training teachers, and the shaping of 19th Century America through its rural schools. The School has been restored as it was in the early 1920s, a time of global change following WWI and a time of social and educational change in the United States and in Iowa.

Through original furnishings, period artifacts, research and re-creations, the School offers visitors one of the most authentic historic atmospheres in Iowa.


smocksThe Marshall Center School was built in 1893 near Laurens, in Pocahontas County, Iowa. Until 1944, it operated as a school for grades one through eight, and as an occasional meeting place for church congregations and clubs.  From its opening in 1893 until 1986, the School was an official polling place.

In 1987, the School was moved to UNI to commemorate the campus' beginning as a teachers college and to honor all the teachers who graduated from the campus. Today, the School serves as an historic site with educational programs for campus and the general public.

Former Director of the Museums, Dr. Sue Grosboll, has developed an in-depth history of the Marshall Center School, including information about the building, school terms and subjects, teacher wages and more. Check it out!


sue grosbollMarshall Center School Contact:
Doris Mitchell, Secretary
319-273-2188 or

Links of interest bar

Marshall Center School history
One-room school memories
One-room schools in Iowa
One-room schools resource list

Iowa Rural
School Archive

The UNI Museums are now the home for an important body of documents on Iowa rural school history: over 9,000 historical documents from the 12,600 country schools that once dotted the state. These records include teacher, county superintendent, and local township school board records. These old ledgers, dating from the 1850s to the 1960s (when most Iowa country schools closed) contain a wealth of information about Iowa's long history of quality education and the nature of rural life. Now faculty, student researchers, and public genealogists will be able to study that history in depth.

In 2011, the Institute for Museum & Library Services, through their “Museums for America” grant program, awarded the UNI Museums $150,000 to catalogue these records and make them more accessible to the public. We thank IMLS for their generous support of our project!

The UNI Museums are proud to have this important and valuable research collection at UNI. Our campus is an appropriate repository for this material because we have produced so many teachers for our state and the nation. As well as maintaining this collection, the Museums interpret early education history at the Marshall Center School on campus and house at the University Museum a collection of more than 3,000 items related to that history. These resources and others, including a collection of rural school textbooks, reference works, and oral history interviews with former students, teachers, and administrators at Iowa's one-room schools are maintained and made accessible through the Center for the Study of Rural Iowa History and Culture. Information about the Center and finding aids for the Rural Schools Records are available at

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