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Illinois School for the Deaf - RG 251 | Illinois State Archives

Name: Illinois School for the Deaf - RG 251
Variant Name: Illinois Institution for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb; Illinois Asylum for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb


Historical Note:

In 1839 the General Assembly incorporated the Illinois Asylum for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb and provided it with a partial subsidy from the School, College, and Seminary Fund (L. 1839, p. 162). The asylum was established in Jacksonville and all educable deaf and dumb individuals in the state were admitted without charge. They were required, however, to pay clothing, travel, and incidental expenses. The General Assembly further provided in 1857 that indigent pupils were to be supported by their respective counties (L. 1857, p. 84).

The institution was privately governed by a twenty-member board of directors until the state assumed full control in 1849. At that time the asylum became the Illinois Institution for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb and a new twelve-member board of directors, appointed by the Governor, was established (L. 1849, p. 93). The institution had its own hospital and operated a farm, printing office, and cabinet and shoe shops. Pupils lived at the institution during the academic year and returned to their homes during the summer.

In 1865 the General Assembly additionally instructed the board of directors to establish an Experimental School for the Instruction and Training of Idiots and Feeble-Minded Children (L. 1865, p. 417). This responsibility ended in 1871 with the permanent establishment in Lincoln of the Illinois Asylum for the Education of Feeble-Minded Children, RG 254.000.

The board of directors was reduced to three members in 1869 and a newly created Board of State Commissioners of Public Charities was given investigative authority over the institution (L. 1869, p. 63). In 1903 its name changed again to the Illinois School for the Deaf. The Board of State Commissioners of Public Charities and the directors of all state charitable institutions were abolished in 1909 and administrative and executive control passed to the newly created Board of Administration (L. 1909, p. 102). The school was transferred to the Department of Public Welfare in 1917 (L. 1917, p. 2), the Department of Mental Health in 1961 (L. 1961, p. 2666), and the Department of Children and Family Services in 1963 (L. 1963, p. 1061).

Access to some of these records is restricted according to the provisions of P.A. 79-453 and the State Records Act of 1957 as amended.



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