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ILLINOIS STATE LABORATORY
CIRCULAR OF INFORMATION,
Statk Register Printing Hoisk.
ILLINOIS STATE LABORATORY
CIRCULAR OF INFORMATION.
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THE ILLINOIS STATE LABORATORY OF
Prof. S. A. Forbes, Curator of the Laboratory, by vote of the
Board, read his annual report, as follows:
To f/ie State Board of Education :
This is an institution whose chief objects are the prosecution and
aid of original work on the natural history of the State, (preference
•''being given to subjects having special educational or economical
Rvalue,) the publication of the results of such work for the informa-
~ tion of the people, the training and instruction of teachers of bot-
j any and zoology for the public schools, and the supply of the nec-
i essary scientific material to these schools, to the State Museum,
^ and to the State educational institutions. It affords a place to which
X any specialist or scientific student may come, with the assurance
.^ that he will find everything necessary for special study or original
T-^ work on the natural history of Illinois, to which any teacher mav
4 come for preparation to teach these subjects intelligently, and upon
•^ which the officers of any school may draw for material to Illustrate
the scientific work of their school.
Its operations are guided by the conviction that the spread of the
^ knowledge and discipline ot science among the people is essential
■*• to their highest prosperity; that this is a matter of public rather
^>j^than of personal concern, and that it must be provided for by public
>^ I'ather than by private measures.
To encourage the spontaneous and gratuitous labors of our sci-
oJ entific men, to assist them at least to the extent of supplying them
d with such facilities for work as are beyond the reach of individuals,
O and to furnish them a means of adding the results of their labors to
i the common stock of human knowledge, is obviously sound public
rJpolicy. Without this class of workers, devoted to science for its
own sake, no solid and valuable progress in science is possible.
From them comes the initiative, the incitement. They are the root
of the tree by which the raw elements of the natural world have
been in all 'ages drawn together and made ready for the nourish-
ment of the organism.
It is also of great importance to the public welfare that the meth-
ods of work and habits of thought by which the achievements of
modern science have been made, should be brought to bear as far
as possible upon the daily life of all. For this, trained and intelli-
gent teachers of science are necessary, able to comprehend the work
of specialists, and to assim'ilate and adapt it to the needs of the com-
munity at large, — able also to translate the spirit and methods of
science into the work of the school, and through the school into the
pursuits of business and labor.
But a practical knowledge of nature cannot be imparted by books
or by word of mouth alone. The distinctive discipline of science
can only be got by the immediate exercise of the mind upon ob-
jects and upon ideas directly derived from objects. Materials for
study, and named cabinets as the standards of reference, are the
sine qua non of work worth doing. To incite and reward natural
history work, nothing has been found more effective than skeleton
cabinet^ of representative species, which can afterwards be filled up
by the collections of teachers and pupils. The cost of these is slight,
the value very great. An easily accessible medium of mutual ex-
changes, — a center of authority to which difficult questions can be
referred for solution, are also indispensable to success.
The pressing needs of these three classes, specialists in science,
the teachers and the pupils of the public schools, it is the principal
function of the State Laboratory to supply.
It is also evident that the large collections needed by the State
Museum, and in the work of the great State educational institutions
can be made more rapidly and much more economically by one tho-
roughly equipped central laboratory than by the separate institutions
themselves, since one set of apparatus, materials and men can thus do
the work which would otherwise require several. It is not intend-
ed to take from those institutions any work of special educational
value, but to do for them in the least expensive way what each
cannot do separately without considerable special outlay.
The institution had its ori<i^in in the transfer to the State of the
museum of the IlUinois State Natural History Society, made in
This museum had been established at Normal, in rooms of the
Normal University offered to the society by the State Board of Edu-
cation, and it was therefore directed that the transfer be made to this
board, "for the use and benefit of the State." The title of the nistitu.
tion was changed to "The Illinois Museum of Natural History," and
its purposes were declared bv a resolution of the Board to be "the
prosecution of a natural history survey of the State, the encourage-
ment and aid of original research and the diffusion of scientific
knowledge and habits of thought among the people."
The rooms being furnished as a museum, full of exhibition cases
crowded with material, it was impossible to provide properly for
work even by the curators of the collections, and much less by
specialists pursuing original investigations or students desiring a
general knowledge of biology.
The embarrassments arising from want of room and other accom-
modations sufficient to provide at once for general laboratory
work and study, and for the public exhibition of natural hlst(jry
almateri finally became so great as virtually to put a stop to fur-
ther progress in either direction. It was consequently proposed to
establish in rooms of ample size in the new State house at Spring-
field, a general exhibit of the natural history of the State in con-
nection with the collections of the State Geological Survey, leaving
to the institution at Normal the work of a biological laboratory, and
an act was passed by the last General Assembly giving effect to
this plan. By sections 8 and 9 of the act it was directed that the
Illinois Museum of Natural History at Normal be converted into a
State Laboratory of Natural History, at which, under the direction
of the curator thereof, the collection, preservation and deter-
mination of all zoological and botanical material for said State
Museum should be done. It was made a part of the duty of said
curator to provide, as soon as possible, a series of specimens illustrat-
ing the zoology and botany of the State, to deposit them from
time to time in the museum established by the act, and to furnish,
as far as practicable, all zoological and botanical material needed by
the State erlucational institutions for the proper performance of
their work. It was also directed that one set of the duplicate
zoological and botanical specimens then on hand in the Illinois
Museum of Natural History, at Normal, which were not needed to
illustrate the natural history work of the State Normal University,
should be deposited, as soon as practicable, in the museum establish-
ed by the act.
At the next meeting of the State Board of Education, directions
were given for the necessary refurnishing and reorganization of
the rooms and collections, the title of the Museum was changed to
the Illinois State Laboratory of Natural History, and sufHcient
appropriations were made to carry out the directions of the law in
a liberal way. About two-thirds of the room was cleared of cases,
those remaining were adapted to the systematic arrangement of
specimens without reference to their display, and the space vacated
was filled with the work tables and large cases of drawers to be
hereafter described. Further details of the changes made will be
found under their appropriate heads.
The Laboratory occupies a room 9S feet long by 32 feet wide,
on the third floor of the State Normal University, at Normal, Illi-
nois. Fifteen feet of one end of this room is cut ofT by a half parti-
tion for a library and ofl"lce. An abundance of light is given bv
sixteen windows, and the room is heated by steam, and thoroughly
The west side of the room is occupied bv wall-cases, the upper
part of which contain 596 square feet of shelving, tor alcoholic
specimens, enclosed behind glass doors; the lower part 433 draw-
ers, giving 750 square feet of surface, one-half dust-tight and pro
vided with glass covers, for insects; the other open, for herbarium
Opposite these are 10 high alcove cases, one-half of which are
left without shelving, for skeletons and mounted groups, while the
other halt, intended for duplicates, contains 96^ square feet o
In the soiitli half of the middle of the room are three twelve-foot
cases, containing 440 drawers, closing dust-tight, aflording 1,050
square feet of surface, and locked by fifteen locks. These drawers
are of various depths, from one and a half to seven inches, but so
constructed as to be entirely interchangeable, any drawer fitting
anywhere in tiie case. Between these cases are iive tables for work
in botany and conchology.
The remainder of the room is occupied by an aquarium table
(with sink and lunning water) 1 2 feet by three, two microscope
tables, each six feet by three, one low, for work while sitting, the
other high, for standing work, and eighteen tables four feet by two,
arranged in sets of three, one set each for entomology, alcoholic
specimens, plaster casting, taxidermy, osteology and dissecting.
The high microscope table contains 48 drawers of different depths,
affording 98 square feet of surface. The tables are of various icinds
in each set, and each is provided with the tools and materials proper
to the work for which it is intended. Small tables (with drawers)
for the laboratory microscopes, are placed before the windows.
The shelf- room in the laboratory consequently amounts to 1561
square feet, and the drawer-room, exclusive of the work-tables, to
1898 square feet.
The Library contains the usual book-cases and tables with draw-
ers for cards, catalogues, stationery, &c.
At the ends of the room are diagram cases and cupboards for
tools and materials. Two closets afford storage room for collecting
apparatus, packing-boxes, and the like.
APPARATUS, TOOLS AND EQUIPAGE.
These include a large Smith & Beck's binocular microscope, with
four oculars and seven objectives, ranging from a three-inch glass
to a one-thirteenth-inch, and six laboratory microscopes, from Ve-
rick, of Paris, with powers from iS to SSo diameters. The micro-
scopes are provided with all the accessories necessary to first-class
work in the preparation, mounting and study of specimens. Be-
sides these are one large and several small aquaria, breeding cages
for insects, guns, seines, dredges, towing nets, a wall tent and com-
plete camping equipage, and full collecting apparatus generally, for
botanical and zoological field work.
The botanical collection, thanks to the indefatigable labors of Dr.
George V asey while here, arid to his munificent generosity since
his transfer to the National Department of Agriculture, and thanks
to the like qualities of Mr. John Wolf, of Canton, 111., is unusu-
ally rich in Illinois specimens, the collections of named cryptogams
being, in the present state of botanical science, especially worthy
of notice. The private herbarium of Dr. Vasey, containing large
numbers of duplicates, has nearly all been given to the institution.
The collections of birds, fishes, insects and crustaceans are also very
large. The following table will convey a correct general idea of
their size and scope:
TABLE OF ILLINOIS SPECIES IN LABORATORY.
Serpents. . . .
Insects : —
Lepidoptera . .
Coleoptera. . . .
Hemiptera. . . .
Orthoptera . . .
Neuroptera. . .
Myriapoda. . . .
Arachnida. . . .
^^ r- «
Ph:enogams i ,367
2 Grand total of Illinois species
A considerable amount of marine material, nearly all in alcohol,
amounting, as nearly as it can be estimated, to 3,000 specimens, a good
collection ol western birds, mammals and plants, and 1 100 species
of fossils and minerals, complete the general features of the collec-
For the general student, the following exhibit of the families of
of animals represented will be of interest:
TABLE OF FAMILIES OF ANIMALS REPRESENTED IN
THE LABORATORY COLLECTION.
Reptiles. . . . .
Insects . .
A characteristic of tlie collections is indicated by the fact that all
the material is prepared and arranged for study. Everything i.s
preserved entire in alcohol where this method of preparation will
serve. The birds are in the form of skins, in drawers,. Nearly all
of these specimens are named, labeled, catalogued, arranged and in-
dexed. The catalogues are on cards, and show the position of each
specimen in the cases, and give references to specific descriptions in
Although the library of natinal liistory is too small to allow of
oiiginal work in more than two or three classes, it has been care-
fully selected, volume by volume, with reference to the collections,
and answers therefore most of the purposes of the ordinary student.
It contains 475 hound volumes and 34=5 pamphlets, containing de-
scriptions of ahoiit nine-tenths of the genera and species of Illinois
plants and animals in the collections.
All the hooks and papers containing zoological matter are in-
dexed upon cards as one volume, according to the following gen-
eral jilan :
Whenever matter of any value occurs relating to any species or
other group of animals, reference to this matter is made upon a card
hearing the name of the family to which the given group helongs
according to certain standard authors. This reference gives, in
compact form, a description of the paper, and cites to the work,
volume and page on which it is to he found. The cards bearing
these family names are then arranged alphabetically, in drawers
made to contain them. In special cases the genera of a family are
entered similarly on separate cards, but of another color. By the
use of these indices everything in the library bearing upon any
group of animals can be brought together with readiness and dis-
patch. This plan of indexing will soon be extended to the botan-
ical literature also.
The most pressing need of the institution at present is a better
library, without w4iich many opportunities for work must be unim-
PUBLICATIONS OF THE LABORATORY.
In October, 1S76, was commenced the publication of a series of
papers embodying the results of new work on the natural history
of the State. These it was determined to issue in the form of irreg-
ular bulletins, to be open to all naturalists working on the local
fauna and flora.
The first of these bulletins Vv'as issued in December, 1S76, and the
second in June, 1S7S. Fourteen papers in all have been published
to date, of which the following six were prepared at the Labora-
tory, and are based upon its collections :
List of Illinois Crustacea, by S. A. Forbes; (mentions, with its
appendix, 25 species, of which 12 are described as new, and 2 arc
redescribed, and gives one plate with 31 figures.) A key to the
species of the preceding paper, by S. A. Forbes. A Partial Cata-
logue of the Fishes of Illinois, by E. W. Nelson, 1876, (156 species,
of which 9 are dcsciibetl as new.) A Catalogue of the Fishes of
Illinois, by IJ. S. Jordan, 187S, (177 species, of which 9 are new.)
The Food of Illinois Fishes, b^ S. A. Forbes, (giving the details of
food, determined by examining the stomachs of 149 specimens, be-
longing to 54 species), and on the Crustacea Eaten by Fishes, bv
S. A. Forbes (12 species, 6 new to the State). The remaining eight
include important papers on Orthoptera and Plant Lice, by Prof
Cyrus Thomas; on Parasitic Fungi, by Prof. T. J. Burrill; on the
Mosses, Liverworts and Lichens of Illinois, by John Wolf and Elihu
Hall; and on the distinguishing characters of leafless trees (The.
Tree in Winter), by Dr. F. Brendel. The papers by Dr. Brendel
and Prof. Burrill were profusely illustrated.
These bulletins are supplied free to all Illinois naturalists, and to
all other applicants from this State. To those outside the State
they are sent in exchange for other publications, or for a stated
price. They will be continued at such intervals as the activity of
our naturalists may determine.
Continuous work is now going forward upon the food of birds,
the food of fishes, the copepoda of Illinois, the anatomy of Ophi-
saurus, and a list of the lepidoptera of Illinois. Besides the articles
published in the bulletins already mentioned, a paper prepared at
the Laboratory, on the food of birds, giving the results of the ex-
amination of the stomachs of 225 specimens, was printed in the
transactions of the State Horticultural Society for 1876.
DISTRIBUTIONS TO SCHOOLS, ETC.
From the duplicates of the collection, and also in part from ma-
terial bought for the purpose, sets of representative specimens are
issued to such public schools as need them in their school work,
on condition that assurance is given that the material will be prop-
erly cared for. It is also requested that beneficiaries of the Labora-
tory shall collect from their separate localities such material as may
be made useful in subsequent distributions, and shall send this to
the Ivaboratory in exchange for the specimens receivctl.
The material issued consists largely of alcoholic specimens of
marine animals, the purpose being to supply to each school needing
it, a small cabinet of the most essential animals which cannot be
readily obtained otherwise by the school itself. Since January i,
1878, such sets have b^en sent to the schools of Oak Park, Cook
county; Shelby villc, Shelby county; Macomb, McDonouj^h county ;
Carrollton, Jersey county, and Kankakee, Kankakee county. The
total value of all the material thus supplied to the schools will
reach some thousands of dollars.
Larger collections have been sent to the Southern Illinois Nor
nial University, and to the Industrial University at Champaign (the
latter paying the first cost of part of the material).
WORK. FOK THK STATK MUSEUM.
Beside the supply of the series of duplicates to this institution di-
rected by law, large collections of birds, fishes, reptiles, amphiliians,
insects, and cryptogamous plants of the State are now being made
for this JSluseum, under the management of the Director of the
Laboratory. All zoological and botanical material is sent from the
Laboratory to the Museum ready for the shelves of the exhibition
FACILITIES FOR STUDENTS.
The Laboratory is at all times open to students, who, for a small
fee for incidentals, will be allowed to enter for special study of such
subjects as each may select. Regular courses in general botany and
zoology, and in comparative anatomy, histology and microscopy,
are prepared for the especial benefit of teachers and ot medical stu
dents who may wish a more liberal and thorough preparation for
their professional studies than the ordinary institutions open to them
are prepared to furnish. The satisfactory completion of one of
these courses, or its e([uivalent in other work, will entitle the stu-
dent to a certificate to that ftict.
SUMMER SCHOOLS OF SCIENCE.
Vacation classes are organized each year for svstematic field and
laboratory work, and have thus far met with good success. They
are intended chiefly for teachers and specialists, of which from
twenty-five to fifty are convened at each session.
Those disposed to help forward a work so successfully begun and
carried so far towards completion, will be interested to know in
which direction their assistance can be made to contribute most to
the progress of science in this State. The library lacks nearly all
standard European works except the Catalogue of Fishes of the
British Museum, and works on crustacca. It also lacks the Journal
of the Philadelphia AcadeiViy, the Tranactions ot the American
Philosophical .Society, the publications of the Boston Society, (ex-
cept the Boston Journal of Natural History,) the Proceedinsjs of
he American Association, and the America! Journal of .Science
The chief gaps in the collections are among mammals, serpents
and amphibians, mollusks (in alcohol), diptera, hymenoptera, arach-
nidn, mosses and fungi. .Skeletons and skulls of any vertebrates
would also be of the greatest value. The distribution of cabinets
to schools affords a means of utilizing large numbers of duplicates,
even of the commonest species.
S. A. FORBES.
The following report and resolution was read by Juilge Caton,
as Chairman of the Committee on Natural Science, and on motion
was unanimously adopted.
The Committee on Natural Science and Mattiematics to whom was referred
the report of Prof. Forbes, beg leave to report that they have examined said
report, and also the iinprovements mentioned therein, and express their entire
approvial thereof, and recommend the following resolution:
Resolved, That the report of Professor Forbes be accepted, and that two
thousand copies thereof be printed for distribution.
S. M. ETTER,