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Motion Film Collection Highlight: William J. Beecher (1914-2002)

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Tags: Chicago Academy of Sciences, collection, motion film, William Beecher, Illinois, ecology, natural history

Created: 4/11/2014      Updated: 8/9/2016

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This is the third blog post from a series titled: Motion Film Collection Highlight. Two earlier posts can viewed here and here.

William J. Beecher served as the Director of the Chicago Academy of Sciences from 1958 to 1982. An ornithologist by trade -- someone who studies birds -- he was an avid birder, whether in the field or in his back yard. He also had an interest in photography and film.

During his tenure with the Academy, Beecher created educational motion films about local environments and animals that were shared with local groups and museum visitors. Beecher documented many local areas around Illinois, including the Indiana Dunes and Goose Lake Prairie, and was among the first to scientifically document many animal behaviors such as lekking in Prairie Chickens, now an endangered species in Illinois. Here are some still images and a film clip from the motion films created by Beecher in the CAS/PNNM collection.

Film still with text reading "Chicago Academy of Sciences Presents"

Film still with text reading "Filmed by Dr. W.J. Beecher"

Film still of self portrait of Dr. Beecher holding motion picture camera
William Beecher, 1960

Film still of beetles
Beetles, 1958

Film still of staff working in the field
Working in the field, 1960

Film still of exotic birds
Birds seen during travel to Mweya, Uganda in 1966

Film still of people holding up a board with fossils attached
People holding up a board with fossils attached. [Fossils appear to be concretions, possibly from the Mazon Creek area in Illinois.] ca.1959-ca.1962

Film still of a fox
Fox sighting, 1966

Film still of field trip to local prairie
Field trip to local prairie, 1968

Film still Great Horned Owl
Great Horned Owl, 1966

Film still field trip to Goose Lake
Field trip to Goose Lake, 1968

Film still of Barred Owl
Barred Owl, California,1966

Film clip from "Feb 9/60 Zoogeogr regions mammals skulls upside down", 1960


Film still of Dr. Beecher
William Beecher, 1967

Film still with text reading "The End" superimposed over a shot of a desert

Dawn Roberts
Collections Manager

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