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A Brief History Of ISD

Illinois School for the Deaf (ISD) formally began its history in 1839 after Illinois passed legislation presented by Senator Orville H. Browning of Quincy, IL for the creation of a State supported school for deaf individuals which would be located in Jacksonville.   The school was originally named the Illinois Asylum for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb.

In 1903 the school’s name changed to Illinois School for the Deaf.   The official opening of Dec. 1, 1845, was delayed for two months due to a heavy snow storm.  ISD eventually opened its doors for two students on Jan. 26, 1846.   By 1848 due to the growth, additional buildings were erected.   The Main Building, built in 3 separate sections, was known as “State’s Folly”.   It remains today consisting of 32 rooms and a high attic.

In 1877, the ISD Alumni Association (ISDAA) was founded to maintain the continued relationship between the alumni and the school and to preserve ISD’s history.  The ISDAA Museum was founded in 1989 and is housed in the historical Main Building.  ISD, a residential school located in the heart of Jacksonville on 52 acres and 15 buildings is overseen by a superintendent who is appointed by the governor and approved by the Illinois Senate.  In 1994, the Main Building was placed on the National Historical Registry.  ISD continues its mission to provide education to Illinois children from ages 0 – 22.   ISD remains as one of the oldest institutions with the original main building.  On Feb. 23, 2014, ISD celebrates 175 years.

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