Founders' Day Elgin Academy 1839


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.



We hope you enjoy this video tribute from Elgin Academy’s 180th Birthday. Celebrating 180 years through 180 pictures in 180 seconds.


Celebrating 180 Years of Transforming Lives

180 years timeline