The Forest Preserve District of Cook County (FPDCC) was created in 1914 with a mandate to “protect and preserve” the forested lands in and around Chicago. The district quickly developed into one of the most extensive systems of wildlife reserves near a large metropolitan area. Throughout its history, the FPD has tried to balance the conflicting goals of preserving the natural beauty of the land and ensuring its accessibility. By 2011, the district had acquired nearly 68,000 acres and now entertains as many as 40 million visitors each year.
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 following resources are available online and were made possible by a generous grant from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation:
Finding aids provide a guide to the collection. They contain a history of the organization, a scope and contents note, and a list of series, boxes, and folders available to on-site researchers.
The images in this digital collection come from lantern slides, glass slides, and print photographs taken during the FPDCC’s history. The collection consists primarily of images of flora and fauna from the preserves.
The images in this digital collection come from blueprints and maps created during the FPDCC’s history. The collection consists primarily of master plans and control plans for the entire district and blueprints that pertain to specific projects at specific locations in the district.
The images in this digital collection come from a small sampling of the thousands of documents created during the district’s history and consist primarily of documents that the district deemed as being of “historical” interest.
This digital collection provides FPDCC blueprints, maps, and images in a multi-dimensional manner that allows patrons to find, categorize, and interpret those materials according to their particular needs. The site uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to plot the collection’s resources geographically on a user-friendly map.
This online, interpretive exhibit explores the efforts by visionaries such as Dwight H. Perkins to establish the FPDCC and the challenges the district faced once it was established.