‘Back to School’ exhibit entertains, informs about the history of public education in Oswego

From 1950s letter sweaters to slates and ink pens students used in the 1800s, the Little White School Museum invites area residents to start off the 2022-23 school year with a visit to their latest seasonal exhibit, “Back to School,” as another school year begins.

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 St., 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. Saturday and Sunday, Monday, 4 to 9 p.m. Monday and 2 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday.

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 nonprofit Oswegoland Heritage Association and the Oswegoland Park District.

For information, call the museum at 630-554-2999 or visit littlewhiteschoolmuseum.org.