The biographical sketch below was written by Harry A. Hull of Salt Lake City, a son of Professor Hull who filled the chair of Drawing and Accounts from 1878 to 1888 at the Iowa State Normal School.
William N. Hull was born near Woodbury, Connecticutt, of Puritan parents, who owned a small rocky farm. His early youth was spent upon this farm with no education except a few months in the winter in rural schools: that is, if the itinerant shoemaker arrived in time to make his shoes.
At the age of nineteen, he was driving a stage for a living. At this time he met a woman named Helen Blackburn who interested him in an education. (His oldest daughter is named after this woman.) After several years of study in a preparatory school, he entered Oberlin College, Ohio, but did not graduate. In later years he received the degree of A.M. from this institution.
After leaving the Normal School, he spent several years introducing textbooks into public schools, serving in the employ of Osgood and Company. He left this work and went to Youngstown, Ohio, where he founded Hull's Commercial and Normal College. Five years later, he was elected to a chair in the State Normal School at Cedar Falls, Iowa, where he remained ten years. Thence he went to the State Agricultural College at Corvallis, Oregon; and from thence to the State Normal School at Ellensburg, Washington.
The latter part of his life was spent in promoting his publications. He died in Los Angeles, California, in November, 1915. His second wife, formerly Emma Young of Youngstown, Ohio, survived him less than ten months.
His publications consist of Hull's Drawing Sheets, and Drawing Books, books on Penmanship, Book-keeping, Psychology, Fishing across the Continent, Physiology, and various books for children called Nature Studies. He was a prominent elocutionist, and in many ways displayed unquestionable genius. He reared a family of six children, all of whom are yet living in 1917.
He devoted his whole life to the cause of education, and especially to the wakening and training of the faculties of the young mind. He was a man very close to nature, ever striving for the ideal, and little in touch with what is called business life.