Early Illinois Women

Sarah Raymond

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An Early School Administrator

Sarah Raymond, an Illinois native, was born in LaSalle (now Kendall) County in 1842. She was 24 years old when she graduated from a four-year course at Illinois State Normal University in 1866 and took a job in a private school.

Two years later she joined the District 87 (Bloomington) faculty as a primary teacher at the "Old Barn" school and two years later was made principal. In her third year here she was appointed principal of what became Sheridan School and the following year was named principal to organize yet another new large school. In 1873 she was named assistant principal of the high school, which position involved continued teaching. And when the principal resigned the next year to return to his medical career, there was Miss Raymond ready to take full charge of the high school. She accepted the position at $1,000 a year, $600 less than her predecessor had received, simply because unwritten board of education policy discriminated against women.

Apparently, the Board had learned that when a special person was needed for a difficult assignment, there was always Miss Raymond upon whom to call. She never applied for a higher position during her career but was always "chosen" by her superiors. Four months after she was named principal of the high school, in August of 1874, she was summoned by the board and asked to accept the position of superintendent of the school system--at once. Her predecessor in that job had been caught with his hand in the till. Even then she was paid $1,400 a year, $600 less than the thief!

She was the first woman superintendent of Bloomington's schools, and one of the few in the country. Although she rose to the top of her field in a male-dominated society, although she began the superintendent's position with a staff of 53--all women, and although women were allowed to vote in a school election while she was still in office, Miss Raymond was brought down when two men who campaigned on a platform of ridding the educational system of female administrators won seats on the board.

Early in her administration Miss Raymond put together "A manual of instruction to teachers and graded course of study", the first complete curriculum guide of the school district.

On August 1, 1892 she held her last meeting with the board of education, and distributed copies of her farewell address, "A Retrospect." She presented a brief history of her years as superintendent, and spoke to the topics of teachers, curriculum, discipline, and the problem of unequal wages for men and women teachers.

Miss Raymond left Bloomington and moved to Boston, where she engaged in charity work and later married William Fitzwilliam. Raymond School in Bloomington was named for her--the first Bloomington school named for a person (previously, schools were given numbers).

Sarah Raymond Fitzwilliam died in 1918 in Chicago.

Cover page, "Manual of Instruction"

Excerpt from "Manual of Instruction"

Excerpt from "Manual of Instruction"

Click here to see a copy of the original typed biography.
Sarah E. Raymond biography (see text file above)

Photograph: MCHS collection
Pantagraph: I February 1918; 4 July 1976
Tompkins, Dortha C., "District Eighty Seven, Bloomington, Illinois" [1976] [Bloomington, IL]: McLean County Historical Society
[Raymond, Sarah] "Rules and regulations, manual of instruction to teachers and graded course of study of the Public Schools of Bloomington, Ill." [Bloomington]: Bulletin Printing Co., 1883.

Contributing Library:

Stevenson - Ives Memorial Library, McLean County Historical Society, Bloomington, Illinois

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