Category Archives: Education

First Black U of I trustee

John J. Bird became the first African-American trustee of the University of Illinois more than a decade before the school even had any Black students. Bird’s tombstone in Oak Ridge Cemetery doesn’t mention that distinction, but its text does include … Continue reading

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First school for Black children

Springfield’s Colored Baptist Church created what apparently was the city’s first school open to African-American children in the late 1840s. It was a struggle to keep open, but it took a decade before the city finally opened a public school … Continue reading

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Cathedral High School basketball champions, 1939

Springfield’s Cathedral Boys High School won its only Illinois Catholic Conference basketball tournament in 1939. The 16-team event was held at the Illinois State Armory Feb. 24-26. Cathedral’s 285 students (as the name suggests, the school was open only to … Continue reading

Posted in Education, Schools and school districts, Sports and recreation, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Brown’s Business College (1864-1994)

In 1864, Washington Rutledge, a relative of Abraham Lincoln’s reputed love Ann Rutledge, opened Rutledge & Davidson’s Commercial College in Springfield. Over the next 130 years, Rutledge & Davidson’s and its descendants provided what an early advertisement called “passports to … Continue reading

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Lanphier High School’s historic Earth Day flag

A homemade flag Lanphier High School students carried to the Statehouse in 1970 as a symbol of the environmental movement found a permanent home in the Smithsonian Institution. But a mystery remains: who sewed the flag? Smithsonian Magazine revived the … Continue reading

Posted in Education, Schools and school districts, Science | 11 Comments

Southern Illinois Medical School 50th anniversary (2020)

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine indefinitely postponed its 50th anniversary alumni gala, which had been scheduled for April 4, 2020, at the Crowne Plaza in Springfield. The gala was a minor casualty of the … Continue reading

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First woman principals in Springfield public schools

Women served as principals in the Springfield public schools for the first time in the 1874-75 school year, but only following a debate in which some board members declared they opposed “so hazardous an experiment as the employment of lady … Continue reading

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Ridgely Elementary School, 1914-1926 (Marguerite Soma memories)

In 1997, students at Ridgely Elementary School, 2040 N. Eighth St., interviewed former Ridgely teacher Marguerite Beechler Soma (1894-1997). Her reminiscences were compiled and published on the school’s Alumni Day web site (in fact, the site was dedicated to her). … Continue reading

Posted in Children, Education, Histories, Schools and school districts, Women | 2 Comments

Patrick Henry statue, St. Joseph School

The mystery of what happened to St. Joseph School’s statue of Patrick Henry may never be solved. But the question of how a life-sized marble sculpture of a Protestant patriot happened to stand above the entrance of a Catholic school … Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Arts and letters, Buildings, Churches, Education, Schools and school districts | 1 Comment

Annie Rheem Hannon (first woman elected to public office)

The first woman to hold an elective office in Sangamon County was Annie Rheem Hannon (1857-1945), who served from 1892 to 1894 as county superintendent of schools – a position for which neither she, nor any other woman, could cast … Continue reading

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