This collection consists of papers that belonged to Elisabeth Hanson, an amateur local researcher, and are related to the research and writing of her 2012 book, East Central Illinois: Exploring the Beginnings. The collection includes research materials, correspondence, manuscript drafts, and Hanson's personal notes about her writing and research into the history and ecology of East Central Illinois.
Elisabeth (Miller) Hanson was born November 2, 1917 in Columbia, Missouri. Her father, M.F. Miller was a professor and then later Dean in the College of Agriculture at the University of Missouri and her mother, Grace Ernst Miller, was also an academic in the natural sciences, specializing in botany. Elisabeth's academic background was in statistics and the graphic arts, interpretive cartography, and the study of natural history. In 1945, Elisabeth moved with her husband, Alfred Hanson, to Champaign, Illinois. After discovering that her great-grandfather, Isaac Demorest, had settled in the area in 1836, Elisabeth developed an interest in studying pioneering and the natural history of East Central Illinois.
In 1967, Elisabeth Hanson began a study of the pre-settlement landscape of Piatt County, the first government land surveys of the area, and the first purchases of public lands. This study expanded to include ecological and cultural developments in East Central Illinois, and in 2012, Hanson published her book East-Central Illinois: Exploring the Beginnings. Elisabeth died at age 98 in 2016.
This collection is arranged in seven series by type of material: Research Materials, Vermilion Salt Springs Article, Publication Materials, Maps, Correspondence, Mixed Materials, and Digital Materials. The first series, Research Materials, is further arranged by subject matter into nine subseries: Natural Science, Pioneer Life, Soil, County Histories, Transportation, First Registrants, Landownership Maps, Land Sales, and Speculators. For more information on the contents of each series, see the inventory.
The digital materials include a video interview with Elisabeth Hanson, a PDF copy of her book, and correspondence, research materials, and other various writings by Elisabeth Hanson.
This collection was donated to the Library by Elisabeth's daughter, Ardith Hanson, in 2017.