(Aug. 25, 1845-June 6, 1911). A native of Koblenz, Germany, Emmerich attended that city’s public schools and then, at the urging of his Roman Catholic parents, studied briefly for the priesthood at a Jesuit seminary in Fulda. Emmerich, however, did not complete his course of religious studies with the Jesuits. He instead left the seminary to join the Prussian army, serving in the artillery corps as a junior officer.

Manual Training High School, ca. 1910, where Charles Emil Emmerich served as its first principal.
Credit: The Indiana Album: Evan Finch Collection

In 1865, at age 21, Emmerich immigrated to the United States. Joining the U.S. Army, he was posted to assignments in Kansas and New Mexico. When his military service ended, he taught for a year at a rural district school in Kansas before moving to Madison, Indiana. There he taught in the district schools, and in 1871 joined the instructional staff at Madison High School.

While serving as a faculty member in Madison, Emmerich authored an article concerning compulsory education, at the time a prominent issue in school reform. abraham c. shortridge, superintendent of the Indianapolis Public Schools, read the article and invited Emmerich to join the faculty of Indianapolis High School (later Shortridge High School). Emmerich accepted Shortridge’s offer in 1873 and remained at Indianapolis High School for the next 19 years.

Principal Charles Emil Emmerich stands at the center of the students and staff of Manual Training High School, June 1910
Credit: Bretzman Collection, Indiana Historical Society

In 1892 Emmerich became the first principal of Indianapolis High School Number 2 (later Calvin Fletcher High School, named in honor of the prominent early Indianapolis settler and civic leader Calvin Fletcher). He remained there until early 1895 when he again became the first principal of the Industrial Training School (later Manual High School).

During his principalship, Emmerich organized a Visitors Day, instituted a revised grading system with pupils receiving grades at six-week intervals, and established academic requirements for participation in school athletic programs. A talented musician, he organized the school’s first orchestra. The Manual Training High School was renamed Emmerich Manual Training High School in his honor in 1916.

Emmerich remained as principal at Industrial Training School for 15 years, until his retirement because of ill health in June 1910. He died at his East Vermont Street home.

Revised February 2021

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