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Atlas Obscura A School for Everyone, Established in 1846

Opened in 1846, the Union Literary Institute was one of the most inclusive schools in the United States.

The school was located in Indiana, just across the Ohio border. According to its constitution the institute would not tolerate “any distinction on account of color, rank, or wealth.” It also admitted both boys and girls. Three years before, Indiana had passed a law clarifying the state’s policy on public school eligibility—only white students could attend. The institute, supported mostly by donations, was one of the only options in the area for people of color to pursue secondary education, and some students came from big cities—Cincinnati and Indianapolis—and from as far away as Tennessee to attend.

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