Elgin Community College



Since its founding in a wing of Elgin High School on January 10, 1949, Elgin Community College has grown into a nationally recognized institution that offers over 130 degree and certificate options.

For a quick history of ECC please visit the history page of their website.  For more historic pictures please visit Illinois Digital Archive's Elgin Community College collection.

Elgin Fire Department

The Elgin Fire Department has a long history of service to protect the community.  The department was founded in 1867 and run completely by volunteers.  Now the Fire Department has over 100 firefighters on salary and celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2017!  Learn more about how the department has changed and how they protected the city as it grew to what it is today at Illinois Digital Archives.




Elgin National Watch Factory


The Elgin National Watch Company was founded in 1864.  At one time the Elgin Watch company was responsible for creating about half of the pocket watches in the US.  Due to its success Elgin grew in size and prosperity.  Much of this growth consisted of single women, which lead to Elgin having the largest percent of women in the US workforce just shy of 40%!

Unfortunately this prosperity would not last and the Elgin National Watch Company closed its doors in 1968.  The rights to its name were later sold off, which is why you can still buy new watches what bare its name.  To learn more about the history of watch factory check out Elgin National Watch Company by E.C Alft.

Elgin Academy

Elgin Academy, a private, co-educational, college preparatory school, was founded in 1839, only four years after the founding of the city of Elgin. The Academy has been a vibrant part of the community even today. In February 2014, Elgin Academy celebrated their 175th anniversary and created a short documentary video to celebrate.

Elgin_Academy-1.jpg Elgin_Academy.jpg Elgin_Academy_Elgin_Illinois.jpg
Students in front of Old Main  Elgin_Academy_1958_brocure.jpg  Sourvenier_of_Kirmiss_1887.jpg



Gail Borden Public Library

library_spring.jpgBy 1892, the citizens of Elgin were desperately seeking a building for the library which had existed for years in rented rooms in the downtown area. Samuel and Alfred Church, residents of Elgin and stepsons of Gail Borden, offered to purchase and donate the Scofield mansion at 50 N. Spring Street for this purpose. All they asked was that the library "be forever and always known and called the Gail Borden Public Library."

Plan of Elgin

Map of Elgin 1917Plan of Elgin prepared for Elgin Commercial Club by E. H. Bennett, Consulting Architect in January 1917. "The purpose of the Elgin City Plan is to provide a systematic method for Elgin's social, aesthetic and economic development, which, if carried out, will create for the community the maximum of health, happiness and efficiency; to crystallize public sentiment on the improvements suggested, and thereafter to bring about through education and cooperation the accomplishment of the recommendations" -- from p. 7

History of the Elgin Police Deptment

Elgin PoliceThe Elgin Police Department has compiled a commemorative history book that traces the history of the Elgin Police Department from its modest beginnings in 1836 to 1994. It includes photographs of important events and department members as well as documenting major changes in law enforcement between 1836 and 1994. For more information on the history of the Elgin Police department you can visit the Gail Borden Library.

Neighborhood Grocery Stores, 1890-1980

hunter_grocery.jpgThis collection contains a  historical and pictorial record of neighborhood grocery stores by Rebecca Hunter. Looking back in time we can see where grocery stores first appeared in Elgin and the appearance of those buildings at the time of the survey. At the time of publication in 2007,  47 of these buildings had "been razed or grossly altered," 49 have been re-purposed as residences, and only 6 remained in use as grocery stores. Information about the history of Elgin grocers as well as stores per capita and national chain stores can be found in the Introduction.

View on Illinois Digital Archives

Print edition available at the Gail Borden Public Library.