Box Car

In 1867 in a leaky railroad boxcar, a normal school was formed, Teacher Training School (then renamed Cook County Normal School). Over the next 150 years, this school grew from Chicago Normal School to Chicago Teachers College, and eventually to Chicago State University (CSU).  Up until 1967, there were two branches of Chicago Teachers College:  North Branch and South Branch.  The North Branch became Northeastern Illinois University, and the South Branch became Chicago State University.  

The Chicago Normal College was the preeminent institution for progressive education, with faculty and students coming from all over the country and world to see how the curriculum was being formed and implemented. During the 1930s, the College was at the forefront of Special Education curricular development. Furthermore, the institution acknowledged the need for partnering with countries and universities on the African continent.  We have worked with students and faculty from Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa. 

CSU started as a predominantly white institution (PWI), with many of its students coming from the north side of Chicago.  As the Ellis Island of universities, it has been a port of entry for many immigrant and non-White students.  If students have a modicum of talent and are willing to work hard, they can earn a bachelor degree.  It is the first university in Chicago to unconditionally accept African American students, and it is the only public university on the south side of Chicago.  When speaking to alumni, most of them have said that CSU was the only institution of higher education that would accept African Americans.  Even the community college system stayed segregated until the 1960s, while CSU accepted students of all ethnicities starting in the 1920s.

Chicago State University HistoryThis photographic history of Chicago State University was written by CSU colleagues and can be purchased from Dr. Seo for $22.00 by emailing her at bseo@csu.edu.



To offer quality programs and services that prepare educational professionals (teachers, counselors, diagnosticians, leaders, librarians, information specialists, leisure personnel and others) to plan, organize, deliver, assess, support and supervise instruction.

To prepare diverse populations who are intellectually and ethically informed individuals with well-defined skills and knowledge who are capable leaders, creative thinkers, and contributing citizens.


 The College of Education (COE) provides global leadership in preparing education professionals by advancing:

  • best practices in teaching that impact student learning

  • knowledge through research and scholarship

  • critical thinking

  • service through outreach efforts