Founder’s Week Timeline Part II: 1895 – 1957

Blog 19
January 13, 2014

Explore the history of the Chicago Academy of Sciences from 1857 to 2014 in this special 3-part timeline series.

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The Academy re-emphasizes its commitment to education in the natural sciences. Its programming is not only for young students, but also continuing education and certification for teachers that focuses on understanding and interpreting the natural sciences. In addition the Academy starts offering regular free lectures on various scientific subjects to the public.

Laflin Memorial Building, Chicago Academy of Sciences, ca. 1915 From Chicago Academy of Sciences Archive, Photography Collection, 8×10 Glass Plate Negatives

Students Children Library

Academy establishes a Children’s Library to “promote science education and engage young people in the study of the natural sciences.”

May-June – Academy participates in city-wide Child-Welfare Exhibit, promoting education and highlighting institutions that already have programs established.

Children reading in the Children’s Library of the Chicago Academy of Sciences From the Chicago Academy of Sciences Archive, Photography Collection


Work starts on developing new exhibit displays to better represent the natural flora and fauna of the area. Work completed by Frank C. Baker, Curator and Malacologist, and Frank Woodruff, Curator, Taxidermist, and Ornithologist, under initial guidance of Wallace Atwood, Acting Director and Secretary of the Board of Trustees.

June – The Atwood Celestial Sphere opens at the Academy. It is the first planetarium in the United States and was designed by Wallace W. Atwood, Acting Director of the Academy. The Sphere is now a part of the Adler Planetarium’s collections.

Compiled Calumet River backgr

Frank Woodruff made Director of the Academy and completed his first life-size diorama depicting the dunes ecosystem and the Calumet River.

Seguard Bailey2

Alfred M. Bailey, Ornithologist, appointed Director of the Academy.

Seguard and Bailey (with camera) filming birds in Louisiana. Chicago Academy of Sciences Archive, Photography Collection.

Bailey makes trips to Louisiana to conduct still and motion picture photography of birds migrating along the coast. Bailey had worked at the Louisiana Academy of Sciences earlier in his career and had formed relationships with other ornithologists and bird enthusiasts in the area.

Bailey, working with collectors in Alaska, starts collecting birds and birds eggs, culminating in the publication in the Academy’s Program of Activities, “Birds of the region of Point Barrow, Alaska” in 1933. Bailey had worked in southeastern Alaska from 1919-1921 on a survey for the Bureau of Biological Survey, so again had contacts and interest in the area before coming to the Academy.

Academy, with University of Chicago, sends field team to Great Smoky Mountains where a new subspecies of rock vole, Microtus chrotorrhinus carolinensis is discovered.

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Academy co-sponsors further field research in Great Smoky Mountains in cooperation with the U.S. National Park Service. Specimens from this survey still reside in Academy’s collections, and trip resulted in publication, “Mammals of the Great Smoky Mountains,” part of the Bulletin series published by the Academy in 1938.

A Northern Short-tailed Shrew, Blarina brevicauda, collected during the Faunal Survey of the Great Smoky Mountains. Chicago Academy of Sciences Mammalogy Collection.

Howard K Gloyd Desert

Dr. Howard Gloyd appointed Director of the Academy.

Additional activities while Director of the Academy (1936-1957) were the expansion of the Academy’s scientific publications, the continued additions to the public lecture series historically offered by the Academy, and Gloyd’s personal research on snakes with an emphasis on rattlesnakes.

Howard K. Gloyd, standing in Arizona desert. From Chicago Academy of Sciences Archives, Photography Collection.

Dr. Gloyd, a rattlesnake expert, organizes expeditions to Arizona. The specimens he collected are still in the Academy’s scientific collections today. The first expedition was in 1937, the second in 1940, and the third in 1946.

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