Iowa Industrial School for Boys

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Iowa Industrial School for Boys
Established 1868
Opened 1872
Current Status Active
Building Style Cottage Plan
Location Eldora, IA
Alternate Names
  • Eldora State Training School for Boys
  • State Training School at Eldora


The Boys' Industrial School, at Eldora, which was established by the state, naturally finds a place in the educational chapter of this work. At first it was known as the Reform School and was established by an act of the Legislature in March, 1868, at Salem, Henry County. It was under the management of a board of trustees, made up one from each congressional district. These trustees immediately leased the old Iowa Manual Labor Institute, and on October 7th of that year admitted its first inmate. The law at first admitted both sexes under eighteen years of age. The trustees were at once instructed to organize a separate school for girls.

In 1872 the school was permanently located at Eldora, Hardin county, and forty-five thousand dollars appropriated for necessary buildings. By 1876 the law was so amended that only children over seven and under sixteen years of age could be admitted. Up to 1880 there had been admitted to this school, now known as Industrial School for Boys, eight hundred and eighteen persons. A similar institution was established by the state at Mitchellville, near Des Moines, for girls.

In this school the inmates are taught the elements of education, especially the useful branches, and are also trained in some regular course of labor, as is best suited to their age and capacity and their natural bent of mind. They are kept, usually, until they have reached the age of twenty-one, unless allowed to go before because of their manly conduct. Various trades are taught these erring boys, some whom have gone out into life to become the best of citizens and all possessed of better education and morals than when first taken into the institution. This is not a prison, but a compulsory educational institution. It is a school where wayward boys are brought under the influence of Christian instruction and taught by example, as well as by precept, the better ways of life. It is really a training school where moral, intellectual and industrial education of the child is carried on at one and the same time.

Today the primary purpose of the State Training School at Eldora is to provide a continuum of supervision and rehabilitation programs, which meet the needs of males adjudicated delinquent, in a manner consistent with public safety. These services and programs individualize treatment and control the offender for his own benefit and the protection of society. Those held there are males 12 to 18 years old that have been adjudicated delinquent and who meet one of several criteria.