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A Rich History of Quality Assurance



Welcome to the Historical Archives of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS). 



Shorthand Class, Atchinson Business College, April 11, 1888.


Founded in 1912, ACICS is the oldest and largest national accrediting organization of degree granting institutions in the United States. ACICS accredits professional, technical and occupational programs, and is one of two national accreditors recognized by both the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). 


The history of ACICS and its predecessor organizations spans over 100 years, directly illustrating the impetus for self-governance and voluntary quality assurance that came from the owners and operators of private career colleges and schools who founded the organization at hotel LaSalle in Chicago on December 12, 1912. 


The Collections:


The archives span over 20,000 pages of historical documents spread over nine collections, including;


1. The Periodicals Collection, encompassing the official publications of the organization from 1921 through 2014;   


2. Historical Monographs, richly illustrated books published on the 75th and 100th year anniversaries of the organization, providing a narrative backdrop and history of the origins and development of the organization;


3. Institutional Effectiveness Monographs, a guide to improving institutional quality;


4. Annual Reports and Key Operating Statisticswhich provide valuable facts and statistics of ACICS and member institutions;


5. Membership Directories, a comprehensive collection of accredited institutions from 1943 through 1999; the issues published during 1943-1967 also include the organizations standards, the accreditation criteria;


6. Accreditation Criteria, 23 issues of the agency's standards and requirements spanning the period 1967 through 2001;


7. Manuscript Originals, A sample of 60 handwritten institutional records describing Council actions during the period 1970 - 2000;


8. Photographsa unique collection of hundreds of one-of-a kind images, originals and half-tones, culled from the agency's archive and Periodicals collection; and


9. Commemorative Documents, a collection of historic letters from the Department of Education and the White House, including Presidents Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter.  The collection also includes a select number of posters. 


ACICS Logos 1912-2014. For a richer description of how the organization manifested under each of these logos, please refer to the the centennial book: Setting Standards: 100 Years of Accredited Career Education. The History of The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools.


Educational Quality and Institutional Integrity


The Historical Archives describe many aspects of an evolving national organization whose central mission has been the assurance of educational quality and the preservation of institutional integrity.


As is the case for all accredited institutions of higher learning in the U.S., the accreditation of career colleges and schools under the imprimatur of ACICS relies on the review of peers by peers. It assumes that no one is better suited to evaluate the quality and sufficiency of an educational program than the professionals who develop, deliver, operate and manage career education programs at other institutions.


In the midst of conflicting ideas and strong opinions, accreditation stands like a beacon. Lighting the way forward. Charting standards of practice. Defining ethical conduct. Assuring institutional and academic quality. Protecting students, employers and taxpayers. In sum, helping colleges and universities navigate a surer path to a better future.


The Historical Archives is made available to the public or to anyone with an interest in learning about the rich history of independent colleges and schools in the U.S.  The history serves as a point of reference for the continuing innovation and development of these institutions.  As these artifacts illustrate, ACICS colleges and schools have served as a backbone of the mainstream postsecondary education infrastructure for more than a century, and provided opportunities to millions of students.  


To the best of our knowledge this collection represents the most unique and comprehensive archive of its kind.  We encourage researchers and interested parties to plumb the depths of these artifacts to help inform their understanding and appreciation of this important legacy.  


For more information about the sourcematerials from which these digital archives were derived, please contact Quentin Dean, archivist, at  


Disclaimer:  All the materials in this collection are the exlusive property of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).  Any use or re-distribution of these materials are subject to approval by ACICS. 
















Contact Information: 



750 First Street, N.E. Suite 980

Washington, D.C. 20002

(202) 336-6780

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