Brown's Business College

Brown's Business College was a chain of business colleges located in the midwestern United States, started in Illinois in the 1870s by George W. Brown (1845-1918) of Jacksonville, Illinois.[1][2] He grew the chain to at least 29 locations during the 1910s (though perhaps not all existed simultaneously). Though most of the colleges had closed or changed names by the 1960s, at least one location continued under the same name into the early 1990s.


Brown joined the faculty of the Jacksonville Business College in 1867, a year after it was founded by Rufus C. Crampton of Illinois College. Around 1876, Brown took over the school and renamed it. By 1889, he had acquired schools in Peoria and Decatur, and by 1894 also had locations in Ottawa, Galesburg, Bloomington, and Centralia, for a total of seven locations.[3] A description of the schools from 1898 states that they provided instruction in "Accounting, Business and Office Practice, Writing, Expert Accounting, What is Required of Stenographers, and the Elements of Success in Business."[4]

By 1907, there were 19 Brown's in existence.[5] At least 29 schools were open at the chain's zenith.[6][7]

Brown died in 1918, but the chain continued. Some locations continued under that name into the 1960s and 1970s, and the location in Springfield was open until 1994. Some of the colleges, through successors, still exist today, including Midstate College in Peoria and Rockford Career College in Rockford. The Sanford–Brown group of colleges or "institutes" also traces their history through a St. Louis location of Brown's.[8]


Locations of Brown's included the following non-exhaustive list:

Other Brown's

Brown is a common surname, and there were other institutions called "Brown's Business College" that were not affiliated with George W. Brown's chain.

  • Bridgeport, Connecticut: Does not appear to have any connection, was owned by an I.S. Brown. Renamed Gutchess College in 1910, acquired by Ernest M. Butler in 1917, and became a Butler Business School, which closed in December 2012.[31][32]


  1. Kemp, Bill (29 November 2008). Brown's delivered white-collar education, The Pantagraph
  2. Ottawa, Illinois in Nineteen Hundred, p. 75 (1900)
  3. (19 May 1911). La Salle To Have College, Ottawa Free Trader
  4. Thomas, Grace Powers (ed.) Where To Educate 1898-99, p. 72 (Brown and Company, 1898)
  5. (22 August 1907). Brown's Business College Items, Jackson Herald (Missouri)
  6. Mellon, Donald E. The Role of the Entrepreneur-Educator in Private Business Education in the United States from 1850-1915, p. 16, 230 (1986)
  8. History and Mission,, Retrieved March 15, 2013
  9. Duis, E. The good old times in McLean County, Illinois, p. 75 (1874)
  10. Lovelace, Claudia (15 June 1975). Brown's Business College trained many successes, Herald & Review
  11. American Penmen, vol. 44, p. 50 ("Mr.R.M. Utterback ... purchased Brown's Business College, at Danville, Ill., on November 9th ... This school will be combined with the Utterback Business College of Danville.")
  12. Robison Galesburg, Illinois: In Vintage Postcards, p. 36 (Arcadia 2000)
  13. History Archived 2013-04-03 at the Wayback Machine,, Retrieved 1 April 2013
  14. Kay, Betty Carlson & Gary Jack Barwick. Jacksonville, Illinois: The Traditions Continue, p. 36 (Arcadia 1999)
  15. (4 February 2013). Brown’s Business College, Marion, Illinois, Marion Illinois History Preservation (
  16. Testimonies of Signs and Wonders, p. 166 (2006)
  17. Ridings, Jim. Ottawa, p. 21 (Arcadia 2011)
  18. (8 September 1894). Brown's Business College, Ottawa Free Trader (reporting that five other Brown's existed, and now Ottawa)
  19. Rockford School of Business Rockford Career College - History,, Retrieved March 15, 2012
  20. (14 August 2012). Rockford Career College anniversary party Sept. 29, Rockford Register Star
  21. (12 September 2012). Rockford Career College celebrates 150th anniversary Archived March 24, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, Rock River Times
  22. Volkmann, Carl and Roberta. Springfield's Sculptures, Monuments, And Plaques, p. 83 (Arcadia 2008)
  23. Patterson's American Educational Directory, Vol. 29, pp. 759-61, 862 (1922)
  24. (7 June 1988). Business College to Break Ground for New Center, The State Journal-Register (reporting on groundbreaking for new building at 601 Bruns Lanein Springfield. Notes that president Larry Weber "bought the 124-year old career college with a group of local partners in April")
  25. (26 February 1994). Brown's Business College Plans to Close, The State Journal-Register
  26. Jerse, Dorothy W. and John R. Becker III. Terre Haute & Vigo County in Vintage Postcards, p. 104 (Arcadia 2001)
  27. Patterson's College and School Directory of the United States, p. 396-97 (1909)
  28. (30 July 1905). Brown's New Business College (advertisement), St. Louis Republic, p. 12
  29. Brown's New Business College (St. Louis, Mo.). Advertising circular (1905), Missouri History Museum
  30. (2 September 1915). Lincoln A Great Center for Educational Activities, Omaha Bee, p.2
  31. Lambeck, Linda Conner (31 December 2012). Butler Business School closes, students stunned, Connecticut Post
  32. Hunter, Felicia (7 January 2013). Biz Schools Shuttered Archived May 12, 2013, at the Wayback Machine,
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