Chicago Manual High School

  The History of Chicago Manual High School

Chicago (population 2.8 million) is located in northeastern Illinois in eastern Cook County. Lake Michigan, the Chicago and Des Plaines Rivers are the main waterways to and from town. Interstates 55, 57, 90, and 94 will all lead you to the “Windy City,” as will numerous US and Illinois routes along with various rail and flight carriers. From what started as a small village in the early 1800’s, Chicago has grown to the nation’s third largest city and one of the most famous places in the world.

Manual High School (aka Manual Training High School) began educating students as early as 1883 when it was founded by Henry Holmes Belfield. The school had an affiliation with the University of Chicago and its president, William Rainey Harper, by 1897 as a working partner. Belfield’s belief was that the technical skills that his students learned would translate into lessons learned about willpower, honest labor, and clear thinking, which tied into a college preparatory education.

The school was operating at 12th Street and South Michigan Avenue in Chicago until 1904 when Manual and Southside Academy came together along with high school-aged students from an elementary school run by University of Chicago philosophy professor John Dewey (a contemporary of Harper and Belfield) in Belfield Hall at the university. The school renamed itself University High School and is still in operation today.

More about the history of Manual can be found by clicking on this link:


Year opened:             1883

Year closed:              1904

School colors:            unknown

School nickname:       unknown

School song:              unknown

Merged to become:     University High School


Given that it was around the turn of the 20th Century, we do know that Manual did participate in track, baseball (both indoor and outdoor), and golf, based on facts we found on the IHSA website ( or thru the University of Chicago link listed above in the History section. The school was a charter member of the Cook County League from 1889-1903. It is possible that Manual could have participated in football and basketball, as well as any girls’ sports prior to its merger with South Side Academy.


Manual had a special year to remember on the cinder tracks of Illinois in 1903 with a top five finish at the state track meet in Champaign. Led by Merrill Follensbee’s second place finishes in two field events, the school finished in a six-way tie for fifth place with a couple of other schools that have their own pages on this website, MinonkSouth Division, and Henry.

Prior to 1903, Willard Doud brought fame to the school’s name by winning the one-mile walk event in 1896. The school also won the Preparatory League’s track championship in 1897.

1896     Willard Doud              1-mile walk—STATE CHAMPION (time 7:50)

1897    Preparatory League Champions

1903    Tied for 5th in State!!!


1   Chicago Hyde Park                 24

2   Jacksonville HS                      14

3   Pontiac                                  10

4   Anna                                       7

5   Minonk                                    6

Chicago South Division             6

Henry                                      6

                Chicago Manual                     6

Evanston Township                   6

 Individual Placers

            Merrill Follensbee              High Jump—2nd place
Pole Vault—2nd place


Manual offered baseball as early as 1885 but did not play against any schools at the interscholastic level. However, by 1890, the school fielded a team in the Cook County League with HarvardSouth Division, and West Division.


In this version of wintertime baseball played indoors, Manual made history as it played in the first-known contest. On November 21, 1891, Manual defeated West Division 20-8.


On the IHSA’s website, the only item that showed that there was any semblance of such a sport was that historian Robert Pruter stated that Manual faced Harvard in a match during the latter part of June 1900, but no result was ever found.


and if you have any details, please contact us about Chicago Manual or any high school listed on this website. Please send your information and photos to us at or by using the USPS. Our address is:

IHSGD Website

6439 North Neva

Chicago, IL  60631

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