Virginia Eifert (1911-66) was a self-taught naturalist, artist and newspaper columnist and the founding editor of The Living Museum, published by the Illinois State Museum, which she oversaw from 1939 until her death in 1966.
She also was the author of many booklets and 20 books, for both adults and young readers, on rivers, birds and wildflowers and other features of Illinois nature.
Karen Knowles summarized Eifert’s impact in Celebrating the Land: Women’s Nature Writings (1992): “Above all, her persistent commitment to a national awareness of preservation and respect for wildlife and wild places must be recognized as a significant contribution to the natural history of America.”
A short account of the beginnings of The Living Museum is contained in SangamonLink’s Illinois State Museum entry. For a full appreciation of Eifert’s life and work, see John Hallwas’s portrait written for the Illinois State Historical Society in 1978. Hallwas includes a variety of Eifert’s photos and artwork.
More information also is available at virginiaeifert.com.
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