New "Back to School" exhibit entertains, informs about the history of public education in Oswego


Last updated 9/4/2022 at 12:57pm

Museum assistant Emily Dutton puts the finishing touches on a label in the Little White School Museum's new "Back to School" special exhibit. Just in time for the start of another school year, the exhibit in the museum's main room features artifacts, documents, and photos recounting the long history of education in the Oswego area, from the few hundred students once educated in scattered one-room rural and town schools to today's Oswego School District enrollment of some 14,000 students attending two high schools, five junior highs, 13 elementary schools, and two support buildings. The museum is located at 72 Polk Street (Jackson Polk) just two blocks from downtown Oswego. Regular hours are Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Monday, 4 to 9 p.m.; and Thursdays and Fridays, 2 to 6:30 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call 630-554-2099 or visit the museum web page at

The first schools in Oswego begun by the earliest pioneers in the 1830s were funded by subscriptions paid by the parents of the students attending. In 1850, however, the Illinois General Assembly passed legislation allowing for funding public schools through property taxes, and the number of schools and the quality of education they offered greatly increased.

The story of that era as well as how the Oswego area went from a small largely rural school district to one of the largest public school districts in Illinois is the subject of "Back to School," a nostalgic trip through time that will entertain and inform visitors to the Little White School Museum. The museum is located at 72 Polk Street (Jackson at Polk), just two blocks from Oswego's historic downtown business district.

The exhibit, designed and mounted by museum manager Anne Jordan and museum assistant Emily Dutton, is located in the museum's main public area. A variety of rarely-seen materials selected from the museum's collections, including artifacts, documents, and historic photos, combine to tell the story of the community's changing public education landscape.

The new special temporary exhibit complements and expands on the education-related exhibits that are part of the core exhibit in the museum gallery.

Admission is free. Regular hours are Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m .; Monday, 4 to 9 p.m .; and Thursdays and Fridays, 2 to 6:30 p.m.

Located in a fully-restored former Methodist-Episcopal Church built in 1850 that served as an elementary school starting in 1915, the Little White School Museum is a joint project of the non-profit Oswegoland Heritage Association and the Oswegoland Park District.

For more information, call the museum at 630-554-2999 or visit their web site at


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