Each star indicates the location of a former industrial school, reform school, vocational school, or work training program for girls in the Chicago area established between 1879 and 1930. Click a star for more information on a specific school. For a complete list of schools, click the icon in the top left corner of the map.

This site is still a work in progress. Please check back for additional content.

GREEN – industrial schools were vocationally-oriented boarding schools for girls deemed “dependent” by Illinois courts. Accredited and state-subsidized through the Girls’ Industrial Schools Act of 1879, industrial schools trained homeless, neglected, or “wayward” girls for work in domestic service and needle trades. These schools catered mainly to native-born white and European immigrant girls between the ages of 10 and 16.

BLUE  reform schools for girls deemed “delinquent” by count courts. Girls referred to these schools were convicted of criminal offenses by county courts like theft and public disorder. Others were considered “delinquent” due to sexual activity and were segregated by child welfare reformers who argued they would corrupt more innocent “dependent” girls housed in industrial schools. These institutions also prepared 10 to 16 year-old girls for work in needle trades and domestic service through programs in cooking, sewing, housekeeping, and laundry.

YELLOW – public school programs designed to train female students for work in the factory, home, and office. (check back for more on these sites)

PURPLE – nonprofit vocational programs for girls. These sites include settlement houses for immigrant daughters founded in the 1890s and employment services for African American youth established in the 1910s. (check back for more on these sites)

RED – for profit vocational programs for girls. (check back for more on these sites)