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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Natural and Applied Sciences Archives: Prairie Research Institute

These topic guides provide a starting point for finding source materials related to the history of science and technology at the University of Illinois. Please note that these guides are not definitive or comprehensive and are periodically updated.
A screenshot of the aerial footage of the Rivers of Illinois Flyover Videos (1977-1979)

Kishwaukee #1 mouth to Belvidere, voice by Barry Rose, camera by Bob Reed.

In the late 1970s, the National Park Service created narrated video recordings of aerial surveys of 11 Illinois rivers and creeks: Bureau Creek, Big Indian Creek, Des Plaines River, Embarras River, Kishwaukee River, Little Wabash River, Mackinaw River, Rock River, Spring Creek, Sugar Creek, and Vermilion River. These videos were intended to support conservation and research on these watersheds by documenting river morphology, natural landscape features, and human development along these waterways at the time of the flights. In 2003, VHS recordings of the flights were donated to the Illinois State Water Survey by the National Park Service, with the stipulation that the information be preserved and made available to potential users. The tapes were digitized by the University Library in 2017.

About the Prairie Research Institute

The Prairie Research Institute (PRI) was established in 2008 as the Institute of Natural Resource Sustainability (INRS) by the University of Illinois Scientific Surveys Act in a transfer of responsibilities from the Department of Energy and Natural Resources to the University of Illinois’ Board of Trustees and was renamed in 2011. The Scientific Surveys in question were the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS), the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS), the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS), and the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC). The Illinois State Archaeological Survey was added to the Prairie Research Institute’s purview in 2010 and renamed as such in the process having previously functioned as the Illinois Transportation Archaeological Research Program (ITARP). Likewise, the ISTC previously operated as the Waste Management and Research Center.

The unit falls under the University of Illinois’ Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation. However, as part of the University of Illinois Scientific Surveys Act, the Surveys were to continue their existing relationships of advisement and collaborations with State Departments. It was amendments made in 2013 that created the new positions of Illinois State Archaeologist, Illinois State Biologist, Illinois State Hydrologist, and Illinois State Pollution Prevention Scientist. They joined the Illinois State Entomologist, the Illinois State Geologist, Illinois State Climatologist, and Illinois State Hydrologist as employees of the scientific surveys at PRI. 

Before 2008, four of the State Scientific Surveys also used to curate and maintain their own libraries before merging their collections in 2010 into a single Institute library housed in the Forbes Natural History Building. The exception to this was the library of the Illinois State Archaeological Survey in order to protect sensitive information and respect significant access restrictions. The PRI Library later closed as a physical unit in 2015 to be fully integrated into the University Library system.

Records pertaining to the State Scientific Surveys are available through the holdings database. That includes the:

Prairie Research Institute Archival Holdings

Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS)

  • Biological Experiment Station Publications, 1895-96, 1910 (Record Series: 43/6/804): Publications of the Biological Experiment Station at Urbana, Illinois, including a Biennial Report (1895-96) with a description of the Station's functions, research goals and facilities; a catalogue of courses offered at the Station (Summer Session, 1910), a pamphlet concerning publication of a volume on the work of the station and Reports on the work of the Station by Steven A. Forbes (1910, 1911).

  • Biological Notes, 1933- (Record Series: 43/6/802): Includes mimeographed or planographed Biological Notes or reports of investigations concerning waterfowl characteristics and migrations; population; age and food or birds; fishing and fish habitats; deer, foxes, raccoons, rabbits, snakes and pheasants; insects and parasites; ecological communities and lake management; conservation; shade trees and disease control and pesticide residues.    

  • Building Announcement, Programs and Contracts, 1937, 1940 (Record Series: 43/1/808):  Announcement and Program for the dedication of the Natural History Resources Building held during the Sixth Annual Midwest Wildlife Conference (November 14-16, 1940). The series includes Building Contracts and Agreements between the University of Illinois Board of Trustees and the Department of Registration and Education for construction of the Building.

  • Bulletins, 1876-2006 (Record Series: 43/6/801): Bulletins of the Illinois Museum of Natural History and the Illinois Natural History Survey, including technical reports of research projects in wildlife management, aquatic biology, applied botany, economic entomology, faunistic surveys, and ecology.  The December 1958 issue is "A Century of Biological Research," which is a history of the Survey.  Volume 2, Article 3, and Volume 37, Articles 1 and 2 are missing.   

  • Chief's Correspondence, 1871-1909 (Record Series: 43/1/1): Incoming correspondence of Stephen A. Forbes, Curator of the Natural History Museum (1871-77) and Directory of the State Laboratory of Natural History (1877-1909), concerning identification and classification of entomological specimens, collection and receipt of specimens, making casts and taxidermy, trading and appraising collections, food of birds an fishes, the Illinois Natural History Society, the Natural History museum and library collections, moving the museum to Springfield and the laboratory to Urbana from Normal, state legislation and appropriations affecting natural history, school requests for specimens for cabinets, speeches, exhibits at fairs and expositions, professional meetings, publications and reference books, personnel, field operations and control of insect pests, especially chinch bugs (ca. 1895), and San Jose scale (ca. 1908), microscopes, supplies and equipment and related topics. Forbes' correspondence as State Entomologist was filed separately after 1899. See Record Series 43/4/1.    

  • Circulars, 1919-1966 (Record Series: 43/6/803): Printed circulars issued for laymen on entomology, forestry, insects, weeds, trees, plant diseases, windbreaks, termites, and floristic topics. In 1934, the Survey consolidated its Entomological Series (1918-30), Forestry Series (1920-26), Botanical Series (1929) and several unnumbered papers, (1918-1919) into a second volume of the Illinois Natural History Survey circulars. Number 25 contains a list of circulars issued before 1934.    

  • Columbian Exposition Aquarium Correspondence, 1893 (Record Series: 43/1/4): Correspondence of Stephen A. Forbes, Directory of the aquarium at the Government Building at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, relating to collecting fish and aquatic plants for the exhibits, employing personnel for the preparation of exhibits and the expenses of building and operating exhibits.  Correspondents include Marshall McDonald, U.S. Commissioner of Fisheries, and George R. Davis, Director General of the Exposition.     

  • Director's Letterbooks, 1877-1911 (Record Series: 43/1/2): Letterpress copybooks containing the outgoing correspondence of Stephen A. Forbes, State Entomologist and Director of the State Laboratory of Natural History, concerning entomology; identification of insect specimens; control of chinch bugs, San Jose scale, beetles, borers, hessian fly, weevils, woolly aphis, caterpillars and other insects; casts and ornithological and ichthyological specimens; food of birds and fishes; legislation; spraying; orchard, nursery and farm inspection; scientific offices; laboratory operations; microscopes and supplies; collecting stations; publications and exchange of papers, bulletins and circulars; Farmers Institute programs; administrative reports; personal matters; University affairs (especially during Forbes' services as Dean of the College of Science, 1895-1905) and related topics.  

  • Executive, Biennial and Annual Reports, 1894-98, 1905-06, 1913-14, 1935-59 (Record Series: 43/1/801): Executive Reports of the Illinois State Entomologist (1905-06, 1913-14) including a report of operations under the horticultural inspection law; biennial reports (1894, 1896, 1898) and annual reports, reprinted from the annual reports of the Department of Registration and Education (1939-1959) - missing 1941, 1948, 1951, 1954 and 1957).  The series also includes reports on the Survey reprinted from the Illinois Blue Book (1935-38, 1941-44).    

  • "Factivities", 1966- (Record Series: 43/1/810): "Factivities," a monthly newsletter covering activities sponsored by the Survey or attended by the Survey staff, including lists of meetings attended by staff members, announcements of births, deaths, and marriages and announcements of coming events.    

  • Financial Book, 1911-1917 (Record Series: 43/1/11): Financial record book of the State Entomologist and Laboratory of Natural History, including an appropriations journal (1911-17), cash receipts journal (1911-13), voucher record (1911-15), University Business office financial statements (1915-16), disbursements statements for the State Entomologist and the Laboratory of Natural History broken down by salaries, travel, incidentals and postage (1915-17) and a receipts and disbursements ledger arranged alphabetically by account (1911-17).  Most entries show date, source or purpose and amount paid or received.    

  • Illinois Natural History Survey Reports to the Board, 1917-99 (Record Series: 43/1/12): Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) Reports to the Board contain annual, quarterly, and interim reports that cover personnel projects and publications, budget, programs like the trapping and banding program, and activities such as surveys and studies of wildlife. Also includes a 1999 schematic design for a new INHS headquarters building.    

  • Natural History Survey Films (Record Series: 43/1/19):  Natural History Survey Films include 35mm and 16mm films created by the Illinois Natural History Survey concerning quail and prairie chickens; fish; wildlife restoration; pine plantations; cannon-netting; chemical treatment of lakes; insect collection; waterfowl; plant colleciton and preservation; restocking fish populations in lakes; Dutch elm disease; the Fairmont limestone quarry; waterfowl; use of pesticides in agriculture; mining equipment and practices; and coal resources. Some films have been digitized and made available through the Digital Library.

  • Natural History Survey Reports, October 1963- (Record Series: 43/6/805): Copies of monthly printed Illinois Natural History Survey Reports featuring popular illustrated feature articles on natural history, plant pathology, entomology, zoology, ecology, and related topics.    

  • Natural Resources Building Dedication File, 1938-1942 (Record Series: 43/1/8): Building dedication file for the Natural Resources Building (1940) including correspondence, programs  and letter of invitation for the dedication held in connection with the 1940 Midwest Wildlife Conference and the Illinois Mineral Industries Conference. Correspondents include Theodore H. Frison and George E. Ekblaw. This series also includes correspondence and programs relating to the Midwest Wildlife Conference and the Central States Wildlife Conference (1936-42).     

  • Publications Distribution Record, 1883-1891 (Record Series: 43/1/10): Publications distribution record showing names and addresses of subscribers of exchanges receiving publication of the State Laboratory of Natural History and the publications sent to them.   

  • Publications Lists, 1914- (Record Series: 43/6/810): Lists of Publications of the Natural History Survey showing type of publication, title, date, subject and author.  A chronological index lists subjects and authors.   

  • Special Publications, 1913, 1930, 1933, 1983- (Record Series: 43/6/808): Special Publications of the Natural History Survey including a report on "The Crocker Land Expedition to the North Polar Regions", (1913); "Advances in the Renewable Natural Resources Program of Illinois", reprinted from the Transactions of the Illinois State Academy of Science (1933); Memorial Program of the Funeral Services for Stephen Alfred Forbes (1844-1930) Chief, State Natural History Survey (1917-1930), (1930); a Special Publications Series (1983-  ); and "Butterflies of Illinois: A Field Guide" (2014).     

  • Subject File, 1879-1931 (Record Series: 43/1/5): Subject File of Stephen A. Forbes (1844-1930), Director of the State Natural History Laboratory (1877-1917), State Entomologist (1882-1917), professor of Entomology (1884-1929), and Chief of Natural History Survey (1917-30). These files cover his activities for the period 1909-30 with some files for 1879-1909. The files of St. Lab., St. Ento., & Chief of the N.H.S. concern entomological and botanical topics including identification of entomological specimens; appraisal and acquisition of collections of specimens; answers to questions about control of insect pests; surveys of the natural history of the state; reports of field assistants in Illinois; materials about agriculture, forestry, game and fish conservation, sewage treatment and pollution of waterways, and conferences, professional activities, publication and exhibits of N.H.S.  Administrative correspondence of St. Lab., St. Ento. and N.H.S. concerns budgets, salaries, position vacancies, personnel matters, annual reports and correspondence with national and state officials such as Governor, Departments of Health, Public Works and Game & Fish Commission and correspondence with agencies and organizations including: American Association of Entomologists and other entomological societies, American Fisheries Society, American Society of Naturalists, Audubon Society, Chicago City Club, Illinois Farmers Institute, Isaak Walton League, National Academy of Sciences and Natural Research Council.  Forbes' university correspondence relates to faculty and officials such as the President, Graduate and Agricultural Colleges, Registrar, Senate, University Press, Zoology Department; the university's participation in WWI and Forbes' role in the League to Enforce the Peace; his participation in the establishment of the local A.A.U.P. chapter; and his involvement in other organizations, e.g. American Philo. Society and American Association for the Advancement of Science.     

  • Zoological Congress Correspondence, 1892-1893 (Record Series: 43/1/3): Correspondence by Stephen A. Forbes, chairman of the committee of the World's Congress Auxiliary on a Zoological Congress at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, relating to appointments to the advisory council, program, addresses and discussion of zoological themes, attendance and related topics.  Correspondents include Charles C. Bonney, President of the Exposition; Edward A. Birge, David S. Jordan, William K. Brooks, Charles O. Whitman, Edward B. Wilson, Henry F. Osborn, E.L. Mark, C.V. Riley and other outstanding American and world zoologists. 

Illinois Transportation Archaeological Research Program (ITARP)

  • ITARP Publications, 1995- (Record Series: 15/2/817): Illinois Transportation Archaeological Research Program (ITARP) Publications include the series Transportation Archaeological Research Reports (1995-) and Transportation Archaeological Bulletins (2002-) detailing archaeological investigations throughout the state of Illinois done by ITARP, a cooperative effort of the University of Illinois and the Illinois Department of Transportation. In February 1, 2010, the ITARP became the Illinois State Archaeological Survey (ISAS).

  • ITARP Studies in Archaeology, 1997- (Record Series: 15/2/818): Studies in Archaeology series produced by the Illinois Transportation Archaeological Research Program (ITARP) includes numbers 1-4: "The Archaeology of Downtown Cahokia" (1998); "The Cahokia Atlas" (1997); "Early Hopewell Mound Explorations" (2004); "Illinois Hopewell and Late Woodland Mounds" (2006); and "The Archaeology of Downtown Cahokia II" (2013) detailing archeological sites in Illinois with site maps, artifact inventories, case studies of particular digs and comprehensive analysis of each site.

Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC)

Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS)

  • Annual Reports, 1969-70, 1986- (Record Series: 44/1/802): Annual reports to the Board of Natural Resources and Conservation containing narrative reports, illustrations, publication lists and lists of staff semi recognitions for mineral resources, coal, oil, environmental geology, hydrology, mapping, and other programs.    

  • Bulletins, 1967- (Record Series: 44/1/803): Copies of monograph studies of coals, stratigraphy and other geological features and resources by survey staff.    

  • Circulars, 1932- (Record Series: 44/1/805):  Circulars containing reports of geological research relating to Illinois, including studies of mineral deposits, mineral production, industrial applications and geological formations.    

  • Conference and Congress Publications, 1979- (Record Series: 44/1/811): Conference and Congress Publications, including abstracts of papers, field trip papers and a list of paleobotanical studies and contributions prepared for the 9th International Congress of Carboniferous Stratigraphy and Geology (1979) and a program and filed program for the 18th meeting of the Clay Minerals Society (1981).   

  • Contract Research Reports, 1973- (Record Series: 44/1/817): Contract Research Reports including a report to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Control Systems Laboratory on desulfurization of flue gases and reports to the US Department of Energy and the US geological survey. The series includes reports of the Illinois mine Subsidence Research Program (1986-88).    

  • Cooperative Illinois Coal Mining Investigation Records, 1913-1930 (Record Series: 44/3/801): Copies of Cooperative Illinois Coal Mining Investigation Reports, containing reports on coal mining practices, coal resources, tests, manufacturing processes and coal stripping undertaken in cooperation with the U.S. Bureau of Mines and the College of Engineering, Experiment Station and Department of Mining Engineering.    

  • Educational Series, 1929-1931, 1959- (Record Series: 44/1/807): Educational Series, including non-technical bulletins published to "summarize the chief facts of interest on broad geological topics bearing on the state of Illinois." Topics include "The Rock River Country of Northern Illinois" (1929), "Typical Rocks and Minerals in Illinois" (1931), "Guide for Beginning Fossil Hunters" (1959), "Guide to Rocks and Minerals" (1959), "Field Book" on plant fossils (1960), "Guide to the Geologic Map" (1961) RS 44/3/0/4, "Industrial Minerals and Metals (1965), "Inside Illinois - Mineral Resources" (1965) and "History of Illinois Mineral Industries" (1968).    

  • Environmental Geology Notes, 1965- (Record Series: 44/3/803): Environmental Notes, a series of information releases "reporting on applications of geologic knowledge to problems of the human environment," including reports of controlled drilling programs and mineral and ground water studies.    

  • Guidebook Series, 1972- (Record Series: 44/1/808): Guidebook series include Pleistocene Stratigraphy of East-Central Illinois (1972).    

  • Histories and Anniversary Celebration Programs, 1930, 1954, 1955 (Record Series: 44/1/810): Mimeographed copy of "Recollections and Reflections of the Illinois Geological Survey, 1905-1954," a talk given by Morris M. Leighton, Chief of the Survey (1923-54), at a November 1, 1964 meeting of the History of Science Society, covering the history of geology, organization of the Illinois Geological Survey (1905), research studies and reports, mapping 1930 research program, 1937 discovery of commercial oil resources, clay minerology, the Natural Resources Building (1940), coal blending and other survey activities. Primary Program and Program for the Quarter-Centennial Celebration of the Geological Survey (1930) and announcement of Activities commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the Geological Survey (1955).    

  • Illinois Minerals Notes, 1954- (Record Series: 44/3/810): Industrial Minerals Notes issued as newsletters dealing with industrial minerals (limestone, dolomite, sand and gravel, silica sand, fluospar, zinc and lead ores, ganister, novaculite and peat) by the Industrial Minerals Division. The Notes cover lesser investigations, research by-products, work in progress and references to literature. Numbers 14, 19, 24-28 and 30 are missing.    

  • Illinois Petroleum Series, 1926- (Record Series: 44/3/816)Illinois Petroleum Series (called Press Bulletins, 1919-1924), including annual petroleum industry reports, geologic studies of the physical properties of oil.     

  • Illinois State Geological Survey Films (Record Series: 44/1/19): Illinois State Geological Survey Films include 16mm films created by the Illinois State Geological Survey concerning power lines; clay brick creation; drilling machinery; geophysical survey equipment; oil fields; and the Illinois State Geological Survey building. Some films have been digitized and made available through the Digital Library.     

  • Oil and Gas Drilling in Illinois, 1937-1946, 1968- (Record Series: 44/3/815): Monthly reports of Oil and Gas Drilling in Illinois containing lists of discoveries; tables on completions; production and drilling; index to maps and a listing of wells completed in each century.    

  • Press Release, 1969 (Record Series: 44/1/814): Press releases relating to staff and program activities.   

  • Promotional Brochures and Issuances, 1972- (Record Series:44/1/801): Promotional Brochures and Issuances including notices of geological science field trips, Statement on the Illinois Basin Ultradeep Drillhole (1986), report on siting the Superconducting super collider (1986), and Satellite Image Map of Illinois (1985).    

  • Publications Lists, 1931, 1933, 1938, 1963, 1967, 1987- (Record Series: 44/1/804): Lists of Publications of the State Geological Survey, containing listings of Geological Survey Bulletins, Reports of Investigations, Circulars, Illinois Petroleum Series, Industrial Mineral Notes, Environmental Geology Notes, Educational Series, Reprint Series and lists of maps printed in the Survey. The 1931, 1933, and 1938 lists include U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Bureau of Mines Publication concerning Illinois.    

  • Reports of Investigations, 1924- (Record Series: 44/1/806): Reports of Investigations or research monographs on geological formations, mineral deposits, ground water geology and industrial utilization of minerals.    

  • Reprint Series, 1969- (Record Series: 44/1/809): Reprint Series including published reprints of articles by Geology summer staff on Origin of Regional Geomagnetic Variations..., Research and Service of the Illinois State Geological Survey, Stratigraphy of the Pleistocene Deposits in Northwestern Illinois, Rock Stratigraphy in the Illinois Pleistocene, and Illinois State Geological Survey Radiocarbon Dates IV.    

  • Short Course Announcements, 1959 (Record Series: 44/1/815): Announcements for a short course in Earth Sciences for Water Well Contractors, co-sponsored by the Geological Survey, Water Survey in cooperation with the National Water Well Association, including program of events, list of speakers and general information.    

  • State and Regional Maps, 1967- (Record Series: 44/3/804): State and Regional Maps including the "Geologic Map of Illinois", coal industry and coal resources maps of Illinois (1984) and geologic maps of quadrangles.

Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS)

  • Building Dedication Program and Floor Plan, 1965 (Record Series: 45/1/806): Building Dedication Program and Floor Plan, including the program for the Dedication Luncheon and Dedication Ceremony for an addition to the Water Resource Building (1965). The Series includes a floor plan of the building indicating the location of different types of research activity.    

  • Bulletins, 1906- (Record Series: 45/1/810): Printed Bulletins or reprints of hydrological and climatological research by staff, including studies of stream flow, ground-water, rainfall, surface waters, reservoirs, sewage systems and water resources. The series includes chemical and biological surveys of Illinois waters, 1906-1920. The Bulletins are usually comprehensive, state-wide reports.   

  • Circulars, 1930- (Record Series: 45/1/812): Circulars, or research reports on the mineral and chemical content of water, climatology availability and content of water in Illinois counties and studies of Illinois rivers.  Some circulars are less technical in their content than Bulletins and Reports of Investigations.   

  • Contract Publications, 1952- (Record Series: 45/1/814): Contract Publications, or interim and final reports of research on the distribution and measurement of rainfall undertaken by staff members under contract with the National Science Foundation (1961, 1967-68), the Army Signal Research and Development Laboratory (1960-61) and Electronics Command (1965-68), the Atomic Energy Commission-radioactivity (1967-68), Department of Interior (1969, 1973); the Crop-Hail Insurance Actuarial Association (1962), The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Illinois Department of Energy and Natural Resources. 

  • Cooperative Reports, 1935, 1937, 1965- (Record Series: 45/1/815): Published Cooperative Reports of water resources research issues in cooperation with the Geological and Natural History Surveys. The reports include a study of the Big Muddy River (1935), the Kaskaskia River (1937) and the ground water resources in the Havana Region (1965).   

  • Histories, 1968 (Record Series: 45/1/805): Histories, including Then and Now, a sesquicentennial history of the use of water in Illinois from the first settlements in 1818; Illinois State Water Survey: History and Activities (1968), a study of the work of the Survey from its establishment in 1895, and a review of the activities of the Survey today.    

  • List of Publications, 1965, 1967, 1975 (Record Series: 45/1/809): List of Publications, including titles for Bulletins, Circulars, Reports of Investigation, Reprint Series, Contract Publications, Cooperative Reports (with the State Geological Survey) and "Miscellaneous Publications." The lists include general subject indexes.    

  • Reports of Investigations, 1948- (Record Series: 45/1/811): Published Reports of Investigation, concerning research on rainfall distribution and intensity, ground water development, types of wells, lake and river water and silting. The Reports relate primarily to water supplies and climatological influences and may cover phases of larger research projects.    

  • Reprint Series, 1960- (Record Series: 45/1/813): Reprint Series, including reprints of articles written by members of the Survey staff on the use of water in Illinois, irrigation and drainage, aspects of rainfall and drought and the purification of Illinois' water supply.   

  • Short Course and Conference Announcements and Proceedings, 1951, 1960, 1963, 1964 (Record Series: 45/1/808): Short Course and Conference Announcements, including announcements for Short Courses on the Evaluation of Wells and Aquifers (1960 and 1963); the Ninth Annual Midwest Ground-Water Conference (1964); a meeting of the Illinois Water Supply Association (1913), a meeting of the Illinois section of the American Water Works Association (1922), and proceedings of a conference on water resources (1951).    

  • Technical Letters & Announcements, 1967- (Record Series: 45/1/816)Technical Letter, mimeographed reports on the cost of water transmission, reservoirs, pumping water, wells and pumps, water treatment and aspects of water resources development. The series includes announcements (1979- ).

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Further Resources

Table of the Research Ares of the survey libraries from the report on the physical closure of the libraries