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Press Release: Forest Preserve District Archive

The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) Library is now home to the official Forest Preserve District of Cook County (FPDCC) archive. The process of describing and preserving the archive and digitizing selected materials was made possible through a generous grant to UIC from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation.

The FPDCC collection contains materials documenting the history of the district, the people who founded it, some of its day-to-day operations, and its planning, construction, and development. It includes correspondence, memoranda, reports, financial records, legal files, construction plans and blueprints, minutes of meetings of the Board of Forest Preserve Commissioners and of advisory bodies, and photographic prints, negatives, and glass “lantern slides.”

The Forest Preserve District of Cook County is the oldest and largest organization of its kind in the United States. It was created in 1914 with a mandate to “protect and preserve” the forested lands in and around Chicago. Today the District owns more than 68,000 acres and welcomes 40 million visitors each year.

“The Forest Preserve District is one of the County’s most valuable gems,” said Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “The materials in this archive tell the story of an important part of the history of our County and the visionary leaders who recognized the value of protecting and maintaining open space.”

Many elements of the archive, including hundreds of historic photos and blueprints as well as select documents, are available online through University of Illinois at Chicago website: https://researchguides.uic.edu/fpdcc/. Other original materials are available for students, researchers and the general public to view in person at the UIC library.

“UIC is very pleased to be home to the Forest Preserve District of Cook County archive because this agency is such an important part of the Chicago area. The records will be of interest to those researching public policy regarding open space and land use, intergovernmental relations, history of recreation, and public education about native flora and fauna,” said University Librarian Mary Case.

“We are delighted that historical documents of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County are now preserved and available to the public,” said Judith Stockdale, Executive Director of the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation. “This archive is a treasure trove for naturalists, historians, and all those who cherish Cook County’s  wonderful forest preserves. We are proud to have supported the archive’s development as part of our commitment to increasing public access to regionally significant collections.” The foundation’s mission is land conservation and artistic vitality in the Chicago region and the Lowcountry of South Carolina.

About UIC
UIC ranks among the nation’s leading research universities and is Chicago’s largest university with 27,000 students, 12,000 faculty and staff, 15 colleges and the state’s major public medical center. A hallmark of the campus is the Great Cities Commitment, through which UIC faculty, students and staff engage with community, corporate, foundation and government partners in hundreds of programs to improve the quality of life in metropolitan areas around the world. For more information about UIC, please visit uic.edu.

About the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation
Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation’s mission of land conservation and artistic vitality for communities in the Chicago region and the Lowcountry of South Carolina honors the values and legacy of its founders by focusing on a healthy natural environment and artistic expression. Established in 1952 with four grants totaling $2,900, the foundation has evolved into a strategic funding organization with assets over $160 million and several focused initiatives to better support the mission. For more information about the foundation, please visit gddf.org


About the Forest Preserves of Cook County
Don’t you sometimes just want to escape? Explore the natural beauty of Cook County for an hour, a day or even a night. When you’re surrounded by 70,000 acres of wild and wonderful there’s no better place to feel free.