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

MF 1252 Beecher with scope
Dawn Roberts, Collections Manager
April 11, 2014

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.

  • MF 1168 Chicago Academy of
  • MF 1168 Filmed by Dr WJ Beec
  • MF 0432 Beecher

    William Beecher, 1960

  • MF 1263 beetles

    Beetles, 1958

  • MF 1161 in the field

    Working in the field, 1960

  • MF 0539 birds

    Birds seen during travel to Mweya, Uganda in 1966

  • MF 0990 fossils on board

    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

  • MF 1219 fox

    Fox sighting, 1966

  • MF 0992 people in grass

    Field trip to local prairie, 1968

  • MF 1219 Great Horned Owl

    Great Horned Owl, 1966

  • MF 1280 Goose Lake man le

    Field trip to Goose Lake, 1968

  • MF 1316 Barn owl

    Barred Owl, California,1966

  • MF 1252 Beecher with scope

    William Beecher, 1967

  • MF 0480 Arizona 1961 end t

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

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