Harris-Stowe State University traces its origin back to 1857 when it was founded by the St. Louis Public Schools as a normal school and thus became the first public teacher education institution west of the Mississippi River. The earliest predecessor of Harris-Stowe State University was a normal school established for white students only by the Public School System of the city of St. Louis. This school was later named Harris Teachers College in honor of William Torrey Harris who had been a Superintendent of Instruction in the St. Louis Public Schools and also a United States Commissioner of Education. The College began offering in-service education for St. Louis white teachers as early as 1906. In 1920, Harris Teachers College became a four-year undergraduate institution authorized to grant a Bachelor of Arts in Education Degree. In 1924, the college received accreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Accreditation from other agencies followed, including accreditation by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education. A second predecessor institution was Stowe Teachers College, which began in 1890 as a normal school for future black teachers of elementary schools in the city of St. Louis. This normal school was also founded by the St. Louis Public School System and was an extension of Sumner High School. In 1924, the Sumner Normal School became a four-year institution with authority to grant the baccalaureate degree. In 1929, its name was changed to Stowe Teachers College, in honor of the abolitionist and novelist Harriet Beecher Stowe. These two teacher education institutions were merged by the Board of Education of the St. Louis Public Schools in 1954 as the first of several steps to integrate the public schools of St. Louis. The merged institution retained the name Harris Teachers College.