Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Department of History
The scholarly capital of materials at Illinois State University includes numerous natural history collections from the mid-nineteenth century that hold significant research and historical value. Changes in pedagogical methods and academic leadership, however, created confusion and territorial competition in who would preserve and manage the collections. Consequently some specimens from those early collections have been both lost and forgotten. This thesis used a systems approach to track the material losses incurred when institutional support shifted in the 1870s, and the original collectors and curators left Central Illinois for national interests in Washington, D.C. Yet, historical environmental collections have become increasingly valuable sources of data for researchers as the specimens and collector notes enable scientists to determine anthropogenic influences on environmental systems on a global scale. Curators currently face significant challenges in maintaining these collections and making them available for global research. Lack of consistent funding, dedicated time, physical space, and awareness of the significance of the specimens has left the collections diminished and threatens their future. This thesis provides an historical overview of these significant collections and an analysis of the contemporary concerns that could benefit from the scientific wealth in these specimens.
Nergard, Melissa, "Utilizing Illinois State University's Environmental Legacy and Historical Collections to Sustain a Global Future" (2015). Theses and Dissertations. 353.