When the North Louisiana Agricultural and Industrial School opened its doors in 1905, there was an enrollment of 152 students, including 25 boarding students, and a faculty of seven. The teachers, five of whom were Tuskegee graduates, had been schooled in agriculture, rural life problems and industrial pursuits. Included were Charles P. Adams and his wife, Martha, L.L. Boyd and his wife, Lydia Williams, Byrd Crawford and A.C. Wilcher.When Charles P. Adams left the Allen Greene School site in 1905 to found a new institution, he taught temporarily in the Methodist Church located near the spot where the present New Rocky Valley Church is situated. The church was used as a classroom until a building was completed on the land where the present-day Grambling State University is located.
The first class of the North Louisiana Agricultural and Industrial Institute was graduated in 1907, with C.E. Byrd of Louisiana Tech, for whom Byrd High School in Shreveport was named, as the commencement speaker. The class had five graduates: Bolton Moore, Dan Moore and Annie Nicholas of Grambling; Alfred Moore of Bienville Parish; and S.L. Holland of Simsboro.
Louisiana Negro Normal and Industrial Institute, by an act of the Louisiana State Legislature in 1928, became the sixth college operated and controlled by the Louisiana State Board of Education. It became state-supported in name only, with state financial support not forthcoming for several years. It wasn’t until 1932 that the college got its first state appropriation – $9,000.
When Louisiana Negro Normal and Industrial Institute became a state-supported institution in 1928, boarding students had to furnish their own bedding and often filled the mattresses with pine straw. Study tables and other equipment were made by the students, and most of the textbooks were bought from the Lincoln Parish School Board. Meals consisted largely of grits, cornbread, flour gravy, navy beans and meat. Wood was used for heating, water was drawn from nearby wells and kerosene lamps provided the lighting.
While Grambling became a state-supported institution in 1928, state financing of the college was meager and slow in coming. The college received no state money from 1928 to 1932 but received its first appropriation of $9,000 in 1932. There was a steady increase in state appropriations for the school, with $20,000 appropriated in 1936; $56,000 in 1938, $71,083.01 in 1939 and $95,358 in 1940. Funds for the college dropped to $72,378 in 1942 and passed the $100,000 mark for the first time with an appropriation of $111,475 in 1944. The appropriation totaled $177,303 in 1946 and $184,703 in both 1947 and 1948.
A proposal was made during a meeting of the Louisiana State Board of Education on 1935 to move Louisiana Negro Normal and Industrial Institute from Grambling to Minden. Initiated by T.H. Harris, state superintendent of education at the time, the transfer was quickly challenged by board president George Madison, who counter-proposed that the college be moved to his hometown of Bastrop. Madison didn’t want the school moved from his district, and his counter-proposal resulted in the issue being dropped, leaving LNN&II in Grambling.
In 1936, the physical plant of Louisiana Negro Normal and Industrial Institute consisted of nine white and green-roofed frame buildings and a shop, an infirmary and a dormitory for men under construction. Most of the frame buildings were built primarily with student and teacher labor.
Alma Brown, for whom the elementary school on campus is named, was the secretary to Charles P. Adams. She later became principal of the laboratory school.
Dr. Kara V. Jackson, former director of student financial aid and Title III coordinator at GSU, was the first Black woman in the state to earn the doctorate degree. Dr. Jackson, who came to Grambling in 1940, was a graduate of Southern University with M.A. and Ed.D. degrees from Columbia. She did post-graduate work at Harvard and the University of London.
The first four-year degree commencement exercise for Louisiana Negro Normal and Industrial Institute in 1944 had to be held off campus because the college gymnasium-auditorium had burned in 1943. Commencement was held at New Rocky Valley Baptist Church with Dr. Felton Clark, president of Southern University, as graduation speaker.