Founders' Day Elgin Academy 1839

Elgin Academy is celebrating 180 years of Transforming Lives!


Founders' Day is February 22nd

There are several events planned the week leading up to Founder's Day to  commemorate Elgin Academy's 180th birthday.





Make a Birthday Gift to Elgin Academy!

For 180 years Elgin Academy has transformed the lives of its students. Throughout the years, the young men and women of the Academy have benefited from countless opportunities to hone their creativity, demonstrate courage, and exercise their compassion. Along with these opportunities is individualized attention that allows each student to take risks, experience success, and blossom into individuals ready to take on the world.

Join us in honoring EA’s 180th birthday by making a gift to the place we all hold so dear. Your donation celebrates the rich history of Elgin Academy and the life-long impact the school has made on our alumni. Give today


Founders’ Day of Service

In honor of our founding, EA students are giving back to the community today.

Lower School students are making fleece blankets for pets at the Anderson Animal Shelter, creating Superhero kits for Central DuPage Hospital, assembling Kool-Aid kits for use at PADS of Elgin, and creating cards for Phil's Friends to pass along to cancer patients. Additionally, third and fourth graders will go to a local senior center to sing to the residents.

Middle School students are working on service projects to benefit the Salvation Army, Ronald McDonald Houses, Operation Gratitude, and Color A Smile. Our Upper School students and faculty are at Feed My Starving Children where they are assembling food packets to be sent to children worldwide.

We encourage our extended community, alumni, past parents, and friends to serve in your community in honor of Elgin Academy’s 180 years of transforming the lives of students!

Happy Birthday Elgin Academy - 180 Years!

The Elgin Academy faculty, staff and students gathered to commemorate 180 years at an all school assembly this morning.  The birthday celebration included signing of the school hymn, trivia, a few words from Head of School, Seth Hanford, confetti, balloons, and of course, cake!

The Founding of Elgin Academy


New Yorker, James Talcott Gifford, seeking a location for a new town, selects a site in Illinois in 1835. That site would become the City of Elgin. Elgin Academy was granted a charter by the Illinois General Assembly on February 22, 1839. In a radical departure for the time, the seven-member Board agreed that Elgin Academy would be non-sectarian and coeducational. The original school motto was: "Not How Much, But How Well."


Elgin Academy is incredibly proud of its rich history and of our important role in educating thousands of students from around the globe. The country and world have changed in countless ways since the charter of this school in 1839, and yet the premises upon which an Elgin Academy education are built remain beautifully unchanged.


Throughout the years, the young men and women of the Academy have benefited from countless opportunities and individualized attention that allows each student to take risks and experience success. To this day, Elgin Academy continues to inspire students to become our creative, courageous and compassionate future.

How old is EA?

It is hard to understand what it means to be 180 years old. Here are some facts to help put it in perspective. In 1839 when EA was founded:

  • Our country was only 63 years old.

  • The eighth president of the United States, Martin Van Buren, was in office. Van Buren was the first president born after the independence of the United States from the British Empire.

  • John D. Rockefeller, oil industry business magnate and philanthropist, was born.  

  • The 1st photo of the Moon was taken by French photographer and inventor Louis Daguerre.

  • English naturalist and "On the Origin of Species" author Charles Darwin married Emma Wedgwood.

  • The average life expectancy was only 37 years.

  • Illinois had only been a state for 20 years, and the City of Elgin was established only 3 years earlier.

180 Years in 180 Seconds!

We hope you enjoy this video tribute to Elgin Academy’s rich history. Celebrating 180 years through 180 pictures in 180 seconds. Thank you to junior, Ethan Moore, for putting this video together.

Founders' Day video


Founders’ Tea

Faculty, staff, parents, trustees, alumni, and friends gathered together today to commemorate Elgin Academy’s heritage at a traditional tea served in the Sears Gallery. Thank you to everyone who joined us to celebrate our 180th birthday.

I "Heart" EA Wall

As part of our Founders' Day celebration our EA community will be sharing what they love about Elgin Academy on the I "Heart" EA wall in the Rider Center. We invite you to stop by and post a note of your own Tuesday through Friday next week. If you can't stop by please take a moment to share what you love about EA online and we will post your note to our I "Heart" EA wall.

The Foxtrot is Underway!

If you are on campus this week, check out the beautiful foxes painted by our creative Hilltoppers. They are on display all over campus. See if you can spot them all.

Thank you to Middle School parent Steve Kut for cutting out all the foxes and to EA's art teachers Beth Sala and Erin Van Horne for facilitating the painting.

Founders' Spirit Days!

Spiritwear will be distributed to the students on Tuesday, February 19th. Those who requested to pick up their items will be able to do so at the Founders' Day Tea from 2:30 to 5:00 p.m. in the Sears Gallery.

February 21st and 22nd are Spirit Days. Please wear your Founders' Day gear and celebrate EA's 180th birthday!

Thank you to our Varsity Store representatives Sandy Kirk and Dee Kademoglou for their help with the spiritwear.

Please join us for the Founders' Tea

Founders' Day Tea brings the Elgin Academy community together to commemorate our heritage and our time-honored commitment of inspiring students to become our creative, courageous, and compassionate future. We hope you will join the gathering of faculty, staff, parents, trustees, alumni, and friends as we celebrate Elgin Academy's 180th birthday. RSVP today.