Fall 2013

Meet Humboldt - Susie Baker Fountain (Class of 1915)

Humboldt State’s First Graduate

Susie Baker

An Education in Mathematics

Read the Susie Baker Fountain Papers made available from the Humboldt State Library Humboldt Room Special Collections. View Here »

Susie Baker arrived with her family in Blue Lake, from Nebraska, in the summer of 1912. That fall, Baker would return to the University of Nebraska to complete her senior year and earn a degree in mathematics. By 1914, she’d returned to Humboldt and enrolled in the new normal school.

Student Recruiting, in 1914

While the particular reasons that Baker and her family moved to the North Coast are unknown, early college recruiters aimed to hook students with appeals to comfort and entertainment. “Climate conditions are ideal for educational institutions,” reads an early recruiting brochure. Humboldt State Normal School features a “very strong department of vocal and instrumental music,” reads another.

A Well Rounded Program

Baker’s coursework likely would have included agriculture, horticulture, general science and nature study.

Other courses included elementary manual training or handwork (pre-cursors of vocational training), cooking and sewing.

A Historical Perspective

Baker graduated Susie Baker Fountain in 1915 (she married Eugene Francis Fountain of Arcata in February that year), and became one of Humboldt County’s most revered historians, painstakingly documenting the lives and events of early Humboldt County. Her work appeared regularly in the Arcata Union and the Blue Lake Advocate.

Leaving an Important Legacy

Baker’s important historical work was recognized in 1967 when she was the first recipient of the President’s Distinguished Service Award, presented by Humboldt State President Cornelius Siemens. Baker served as president of the Humboldt Historical Society, vice-president of the Clarke Museum board of directors, was recognized by the Huntington Library and was a privileged member of the California Historical Society. Baker eventually moved to Berkeley, Calif., to be closer to her family, but before doing so, she donated her entire collection of papers, notes, photographs, maps and more to the University Library.