School of Human Evolution and Social Change

As grand as Old Main and just as significant, the building formerly known as the Industrial Arts Building stands as a testament to the growth of Arizona State University from classical education to the research university it is today.

When ASU began, it was a teaching college known as the Territorial Normal School and, later, the Tempe Normal School. The community of Tempe had a lot of influence on the tiny little college. They raised funds to purchase the first 20 acres and outfitted the buildings with furniture and sewer lines.

1912 marked Arizona’s change from territory to state as well as a milestone year for Tempe Normal. This year, the school expanded off of the first 20 acres, purchasing land from nearby individuals and land companies. With the school's enrollment increasing, they needed to find places to house new students and a new curriculum. Thus, the Industrial Arts building was constructed. The builiding was finished in 1914 by Norman F. Marsh and Leland G. Knipe. Knipe was the architect and engineer of a few buildings in Tempe and Phoenix, including Tempe's original City Hall.

This Industrial Arts building marked the beginning of a new curriculum for the school. Instead of instructing their students how to teach classic subjects like math or science, the school moved to a manual labor curriculum. This new curriculum included classes on agricultural mechanics and making furniture.

The building itself has not undergone very much change, but what goes on inside and around it has. It is now the Anthropology Building, home of the School of Human Evolution and Social Change. This building has held the offices of world-renowned anthropologists, including the man who discovered Lucy, the most complete ancient hominid found to date. It also houses the Museum of Anthropology, in which students in the museum studies program create exhibits for the general public.

There was a street called College Ave that ran in front of the building until ASU started creating pedestrian-only walkways. More trees and bushes were added to the front of the building int the 1920s. Also of interest is that the building's original windows have all been replaced. This was done for preservation purposes as well as sustainability purposes.

With the construction of the building, the school was breaking away from its teacher's school role and set the stage for its movement from school to college to a full-fledged university.


Various Deeds to Tempe School Lands, 1885 - 1936
Various Deeds to Tempe School Lands, 1885 - 1936 A portion of the typewritten notes about land acquisitions made during the first 30 years of the Tempe Normal School. Included are the land purchases of the first 20 acres. After that, the land where the Anthropology Building now stands was purchased. Source: Various. “Deeds to Tempe School Lands 1885 – 1936.” Arizona State University, 1936 1885. MSS-98 Box 67 Folder 2/OV1. University Archives.
Industrial Arts Curriculum, 1927 - 1928
Industrial Arts Curriculum, 1927 - 1928 This catalog of classes was given out to every student in order to register. The curriculum in the new Industrial Arts building included shop classes and agricultural topics. This was a very significant change from the classically taught subjects of English, Math, and Science. Source: “Industrial Arts Curriculum, 1927-1928.” EMuseum - Arizona State University. The New ASU Story, 1928 1927.



Holly Solis, “School of Human Evolution and Social Change,” Salt River Stories, accessed May 23, 2024,