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Illinois Genealogy Resources

School Records

Early Illinois schools were private. In 1825, the General Assembly passed the first public school law. In 1836, the Assembly levied optional school taxes, and in 1883 it first legislated compulsory school attendance.

IRAD has some twentieth-century education records. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library has historical material related to education in its Jonathan Baldwin Turner Papers 1836-95).

  • Jacksonville Female Academy. The first educational institution for women in Illinois, was chartered in 1835. Its 1836-1903 catalogs list students and their addresses.
     
  • McKendree College, Holman Library. Founded in 1829, its records are in the library. McKendree College is the oldest college in Illinois.  It is located in Lebanon, Illinois. It is a private liberal arts college affiliated with the United Methodist Church.
     
  • Monticello Ladies' Seminary. The classes at Monticello College began in April 1838, and a charter was granted by the state of Illinois to Monticello Female Seminary. The Monticello Female Seminary was later renamed Monticello College. Captain Benjamin Godfrey, the father of eight daughters, was an advocate of higher education for women and made a large donation of funds and land for the college. Monticello operated as a two year college for women until the campus was sold in 1970 to establish Lewis and Clark Community College. Monticello's final class graduated in 1971.
     
  • Shurtleff College, established in 1827 as Rock Spring Seminary. Opened 1827, closed 1960.  Shurtleff College was the oldest Baptist college west of the Appalachians until it was absorbed by Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. Its records are at Louisa H. Bowen University Archives and Special Collections, Lovejoy Library, SIU, Edwardsville 62026. Course catalogues name students by class. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library also holds some Shurtleff College records.
     
  • Visitation Academy. In 1833 in Kaskaskia, Illinois, eight Visitation Sisters from Georgetown, Washington, D.C., arrived to establish a convent and school in the St. Louis Diocese.