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ISSCS Research Guide

Published: November 1, 2012

For the Illinois Soldiers and Sailors Children’s School and its predecessor, the Illinois Soldiers Orphans Home, in Normal.

For the Illinois Soldiers and Sailors Children’s School and its predecessor, the Illinois Soldiers Orphans Home, in Normal.

McLean County Museum of History

A good overall history: A Place We Called Home : a History of Illinois Soldiers' Orphans' Home 1864 - 1931, Illinois Soldiers' and Sailors' Children's School 1931 – 1979 by Ruth Cobb. Call No: IL (MCLEAN) ISSCS COB. Circulating copies available at Bloomington and Normal Public libraries.

“Illinois Soldiers' and Sailors' Childrens' School by Edward S. Palmer, in Vol. V, pp 144 – 164 of Home Town in the Corn Belt. This 1950 article was written by an ISSCS employee and includes a School Directory for 1949-50 Call No: IL (McLean) HIS 1950.

Two family genealogies/histories on the Farmer and O’Connell families, each under call no. 929.2.

A Ward of the State by Ron Huber: This autobiographical tale of a youngster shuttled amongst foster homes and orphanages includes one chapter at the ISSCS. Call No: 362.795 HUB.

ISSCS Collection: 8 boxes; 3.5 linear feet, 1865-2007. On-line finding aid at
Newspaper articles, land records, several annual/biennial reports, burial records, histories, brochures, reunion materials, building info, newsletters, school newspapers and scrapbooks, and more. Especially helpful identifying students: 1868 Register of Children; 1869/70 Annual Report; Census (1880-1940)

ISSCS Photo Collection: 2 boxes; one linear foot. Buildings, some group photos of students from 1920 onwards, student activities (band, sports, etc.)

Newspaper Index: Consult the card catalogs here and at Bloomington Public Library to find further articles. Articles can be located on microfilm at Bloomington Public or ISU’s Milner libraries.

ISU Archives

A few annual reports for ISSCS and for the ISSCS Historical Preservation Society; photographs; building blueprints; and much memorabilia donated by former students. Online finding aid at
The ISU Archives are located at 2016 Warehouse Road. Please call at (309) 438-3546 or email to arrange a visit.

Displays at Normal Community Activity Center

In the Normal Community Activity Center at 1110 Douglas St. on the former ISSCS campus, artifacts from the school are on display. Most were donated by former students.

Bloomington Public Library

Selected Biennial Reports (1896-1906) appear in a bound volume in the Illinois Room; and a 2005 DVD called Homecoming: A Documentary includes interviews with some former ISSCS students.

Illinois State Archives

Our state Archives in Springfield boasts a variety of records.

If you’re searching for students, one fairly comprehensive source is the "Illinois Soldiers' and Sailors' Children's School: Register of Children, circa 1867-1942 255/004." This particular record series typically lists parents’ names, dates in and out, and other helpful info. Staff will search for a student’s name if you know the approximate time period (year/years) of interest. They recommend you contact them directly before traveling there by calling their reference desk at (217) 782-4866. You may also request info on-line. Most of this is free to Illinois residents.

Most of the records are available to the public after 75 years. The Archives has additional records, but some contain medical or mental health records which are available only with a court order. Please contact the Archives for further info. You may also view a list of their holdings online at

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