Founded by Lutheran pioneers in education in 1847, Carthage College was chartered by the Illinois General Assembly as The Literary and Theological Institute of the Lutheran Church of the Far West. The name was soon shortened to Hillsboro College.

In 1852, the College moved to Springfield, Illinois, and assumed the new name of Illinois State University. Due to falling enrollments, financial difficulty and other circumstances, the doors of the school were closed in 1869.

In March of 1870, the irrepressible spirit of the College was reborn in Carthage, Illinois. At this location, the College took the name it still carries today.

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