Tina Beaird covered a lot of resources and records during her “Using School Records In Your Family Tree” lecture on September 22, 2021. In her presentation, Tina highlighted a few things you should add to your research checklist:

  • Alumni Directories
  • Awards
  • Class Photos
  • Coursework/Tests/Papers
  • Diplomas
  • Graduation Announcements
  • Programs and Event Flyers
  • Report Cards/Transcripts
  • Yearbooks (Annuals)

Through a partnership with the Bolingbrook Historic Preservation Commission, the Fountaindale Public Library District is digitizing a collection of DuPage Township report books and school ledgers dating from the mid-1870s through the 1920s and posting them online for free on Internet Archive. The books we are currently digitizing were anonymously donated to the Bolingbrook Historical Museum. They are helping to fill in the gaps of what we know about the education of school-aged children in a small rural community. Teachers were not required to turn in their student ledgers or attendance books at the end of the term, so these items often were kept in their homes after they retired. One of the primary resources we have which documents the rural schools before 1950 is From One-Room Schools to District 365U, DuPage Township Will County, Illinois by Dorothy Hassert & Candace Hrpcha, which has been helpful in narrowing down which school the donated books document.

Take a look at one of the more robust books in the digitized collection, from the page from the winter term, dating October 23, 1899, to April 6, 1900.

The register includes details such as:

  • Student name
  • Age
  • Exam dates
  • Areas of Study
  • Attendance
  • Students entering/leaving school
  • School holidays, breaks, and vacations

Looking at an earlier register set in 1879, bottom sections, certain pages are set aside for teacher notes and ‘Teacher Notes to Successor.’ The teacher is very straightforward in summarizing where to purchase school books at a discount as well as a certain issue she encountered with students.

“Better break them of the habit I let them get into. That of running up to [me] for everything instead of holding up their hands. Don’t let them drink during sessions or you will have a big annoyance on your hands.”

In addition to the DuPage Township school leger books we have digitized, we have also begun digitizing indexes and items from the Northern Will County Genealogical Society. This small society is still active in our community, and we always appreciate the help they have been able to lend us! You can check out what we’ve added anytime on Internet Archive!

Want to see what else the Bolingbrook Historical Museum has in its collection? Visit the museum campus located at 444 E Briarcliff Road in Bolingbrook, near Bolingbrook Fire Station 1. ​The museum is free to tour and open on the second and fourth Saturday of each month from 1 to 3 p.m. Donations are always gladly accepted.

Until next time, see you at the library!