For Naper Settlement’s curatorial team, every day uncovers a new aspect of Naperville’s history because of the variety of artifacts and objects received from the community. Recently, 46 boxes arrived at Naper Settlement’s Collections Care and Storage Facility in Naperville because the museum will be caring for Indian Prairie School District 204’s historic archives. The archival materials include items dating back to the late 1800s and the early 1900s, decades before Indian Prairie became a unit district in 1972.
Superintendent Karen Sullivan recently stopped by to see the comprehensive collection of scrapbooks, photographs and ledgers that comprise the district’s history from 1972 and before that time when there were three elementary school districts.
“It’s fascinating to look through the collection and see a slice of education history from our community,” Superintendent Sullivan said. “We are extremely grateful that this historic material will have a safe home in the archives of Naper Settlement.”
Indian Prairie’s records are being inventoried and re-housed in acid-free boxes. Acid-free folders and mylar sleeves in which the items will be kept, help to stabilize the books, photographs, slides and papers, which will be given accession numbers and cataloged.
Contents of the boxes include historic photos of students with their classes in one-room schools, as well as attendance registers and salaries. There are examples of how the District 204 logo has changed over the years and samples of district publications from the 1970s until now. Multiple scrapbooks are filled with pages of news articles cut from local newspapers.
Naper Settlement President and CEO Rena Tamayo-Calabrese said, “Indian Prairie School District 204 has been our community partner for many years and we are so pleased to care for their historic records. Naper Settlement saves the past for future generations, so we don’t lose these stories and we can ultimately share them with our 135,000 annual visitors.”
Indian Prairie School District 204 was formed in August 1972 when the residents of Wheatland Elementary District 40, Indian Plains Elementary District 182, and Granger Elementary District 90 voted 359 to 44 to merge into a single, unit district. The district educated its kindergarten through eighth-graders in its four original schools: Wheatland, Indian Plains, the original Granger, and Longwood. High school students attended Naperville Central and Naperville North until the completion of Waubonsie Valley High School in 1975. Waubonsie also accommodated students in grades seven and eight until Thayer J. Hill Junior High opened in 1981. Today, the district serves 28,500 students who attend 33 schools.
A special thank you goes to Paulette Wasielak of the Indian Prairie Communications Services Department and Janet Buglio, Executive Director of Communication Services. Paulette has worked quietly behind-the-scenes for many years and has been the keeper of the archives, both contributing and caring for them. Through her dedication, she has insured that the memories will never be forgotten and will live on forever for future generations.
Indian Prairie Superintendent Karen Sullivan, left, is amazed at the wealth of information included in District 204's archives when she talked to Naper Settlement Registrar Sarah Buhlig, who is taking inventory and preserving the fragile materials in acid-free boxes, acid-free folders and mylar sleeves.
This is one of the many precious artifacts from the Indian Prairie archives that chronicle the history of the district.