Mission and History

Original Josephinum Academy in 1890
Students at the then called Josephinum High School in the 1940s
Josephinum groundbreaking photo from the 1950s
Photo of current Jo building taken in the 60s


Josephinum Academy of the Sacred Heart offers a world-class approach to academic excellence combined with holistic, moral, and spiritual development in a college-preparatory environment at an affordable price to all girls in the heart of Chicago.


In September of 1886, Mother Philomena Schmittdiel, superior of the North American Province of the Sisters of Christian Charity, buried a small statue of St. Joseph in an empty field across the street from St. Aloysius Church. This was the symbol of her intention to buy the property on Oakley Boulevard and build a school for girls that she would call St. Joseph’s Academy. When the building opened to students in September, 1890, a single Latin word, “Josephinum,” which roughly translates as “the house of Joseph,” was carved above the entrance.

The name was embraced, and the school was called “Josephinum Academy” until 1923 when Cardinal Mundelein made Josephinum a regional Catholic High School and renamed it "Josephinum High School." The name "Josephinum Academy" was readopted in 2000 with the introduction of a middle school, which has since been phased out. Meanwhile, generations of Josephinum students have passed down an affectionate nickname for the school: “The Jo.”

After the Religious of the Sacred Heart assumed the educational direction of Josephinum Academy, with the blessing of the Sisters of Christian Charity, the Network of Sacred Heart Schools promoted Josephinum to full membership on April 11, 2011. The strong partnership between the Sisters of Christian Charity and the Society of the Sacred Heart that harkens back to the orders’ founders, Pauline von Mallinckrodt and Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat, lives on through the orders’ collaboration at Josephinum.

For over 130 years, Josephinum has maintained a commitment to educating and inspiring young women in the heart of Chicago, and the school exists today as the city’s longest-standing Catholic high school for girls.