Illinois State Museum Herbarium
The Illinois State
Museum's herbarium contains more than 110,000 specimens. The oldest
recorded specimens were collected in 1843, and include two members of
the mint family and one of the lily family. Many specimens are from
the mid-to-late 1800s, encompassing everything from grasses to trees.
originated with a core collection of about 1029 specimens (collected from
Illinois) that was likely compiled in 1872 at the Natural History Museum
at the Illinois State Normal University in Bloomington, the same year
the collection was transferred to the state. The contributors to this
core collection were three men, Dr. George Vasey, Elihu Hall, and John
Dr. Vasey (1822
- 1893) was a physician who came to Illinois in 1848. He, with others, organized
the Illinois Natural History Survey. He was an accomplished botanist who
later became a curator for the U. S. Department of Agriculture and the U.
S. National Herbarium in 1872. The Illinois State University's herbarium
is named after him.
Elihu Hall (1822 - 1882), a farmer with a great interest in botany,
collected 300 of the original specimens and had a personal collection of
10,000 specimens, the majority of which are now in the herbarium of the Field
Museum of Natural History, Chicago.
(1820 - 1897) collected about 200 of the original specimens. He was a teacher,
then a government assayer, before turning his attention to botany, geology,
and entomology. He donated some of his collections to a church, which eventually
turned them over to a high school. Most were eventually lost, except for
the 200 specimens in the Museum's collection.
The ISM's collections
sat in storage until 1938, when Dr. George Fuller, the first curator of botany
at the museum, unpacked them and remounted the undamaged specimens on herbarium
sheets. Thereafter, the collections at the Illinois State Museum herbarium grew
through a variety of contributions from museum curators, individuals, and organizations.
Works Progress Administration (WPA) workers made substantial contributions of
thousands of specimens and herbarium sheets from 1938 through 1942.
collected by state park naturalists, scientists from other institutions
such as state and private universities, and the state natural history
survey are also part of the ISM's herbarium. Individuals, whose primary
professions were other than science or botany contributed collections
ranging in size from 100 to more than 3,000 specimens. Museum curators
continued to expand the collection. Dr. Glen S. Winterringer collected
over 9,000 plant specimens from his arrival at the ISM in 1949 and during
his tenure as curator from 1956.
Dr. Alfred Koelling
joined the botany staff as assistant curator in 1967 and worked with
Dr. Winterringer on organizing the herbarium collections. As curator,
Dr. Koelling expanded and cared for the herbarium collections until
he retired in 2000. Dr. Hong Qian, ISM Associate Curator of Botany,
now cares for the herbarium.