Explore Chicago Collections

Explore Chicago Collections lets researchers, teachers and students search many locations at once. Their unified search lets you locate thousands of archival collections and digital images at member institutions all over the Chicago area.

A search of the site for “pollution” yielded eighteen images, including pollution maps from the Forest Preserve District of Cook County Records (pictured below), and fifty-four archival collections, including records from neighborhood environmental groups.

Water Supply and Sewage Treatment: Sources of Pollution Along Little Calumet River
Water Supply and Sewage Treatment: Sources of Pollution Along Little Calumet River [FPDCC_00_01_0015_039, Forest Preserve District of Cook County Records, University of Illinois at Chicago Library.]

Rachel’s War

In the Spring of 1962, The New Yorker published Rachel Carson’s anti-pesticide manifesto, Silent Spring, in three installments. Carson’s message quickly transcended the magazine’s readership, eliciting a national response that would eventually lead to a federal ban on DDT for agricultural use and the creation of the EPA. In honor of Carson’s legacy and Women’s History Month, cartoonist David Gessner illustrates the pioneering writer’s final years as she fought for the environment and for her life. (Based on Linda Lear’s biography, Rachel Carson: Witness for Nature.)

[h/t The Sierra Club]

How America Forgot About the Lead in Its Water

Read the full story in Pacific Standard.

In the mid-1980s, a raft of new research found America’s children also ingested lead from paint chips and dust, shifting the public focus from tap water to paint.

Who Politicized the Environment and Climate Change?

Read the full story in FutureStructure.

Historically, environmental cause enjoyed bipartisan support — but gains by NGOs and the emergence of climate change as a social issue have created a sharp political divide.

Celebrating Women who make Environmental Protection Possible

Read the full post from U.S. EPA.

Over the last 45 years of EPA leadership, we’ve made tremendous progress—dramatically cutting air pollution, cleaning up our water and land, and protecting vulnerable communities from harm. This month, we honor the leaders who’ve paved the way for women to follow in their footsteps—from the four women who’ve previously served as this agency’s Administrators, to the countless others who overcame prejudice to transform society.

Women’s History Month: Contributions in Environmental and Conservation Fields

Read the full post from U.S. EPA.

March is Women’s History Month, and EPA is marking the event by highlighting the many contributions women have made to the environmental and conservation fields. To help get things rolling, we are sharing advice that EPA women scientists and engineers have for students looking to make their own mark in environmental and conservation history.

The Quest to Scan Millions of Weather Records

Read the full story at CityLab.

Deep in the dusty catalogs of weather stations and meteorological offices all over the world are hidden treasures. They’re easy to miss if you’re not looking for them, often taking the form of piles of moldy papers. But on those pieces of paper are hundreds of years of weather records—data that could make climate science far more accurate.

The International Environmental Data Rescue Organization (IEDRO) estimates that there are 100 million paper-strip charts—records that list weather conditions—sitting in meteorological storage facilities throughout the world. That’s about 200 million observations unused by scientists, data that could greatly improve their models. Now, a few small groups of scientists are trying digitize these records, but they’re facing all kinds of obstacles.

Climate scientists often bemoan the lack of historic records. There are the famous data sets: the Vostok ice core drilled in the 1970s that looks back about 400,000 years, the Keeling curve started in 1958, data from satellites that watch sea ice retreat starting around 1979. But these are spot points in specific places that only span a short amount of time. To truly understand climate, researchers need a global records that reaches back hundreds of years.