Virginia Eifert

American Author and Artist, Photographer and Naturalist
January 23,1911 – June 16,1966

A gifted naturalist who left behind a great legacy of work,
Virginia touched many lives in many ways. 


Memorial collections of her work are in
Western Illinois University and the Illinois State Museum.

The purpose of this website is not to showcase Virginia’s known works, her many books and the fame that still garners fan mail 50 years after her death, but to show her personal life, her roots of how she achieved what she did.


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Virginia in her 20’s already working at the Illinois State Museum, Springfield Illinois

From The Legacy of Virginia S. Eifert 1981, John E. Hallwas – Western Illinois University

“Virginia S. Eifert, a complex and energetic naturalist, author, and artist of Springfield, Illinois, was born on January 23, 1911. In a life that lasted only fifty-six years, she produced eighteen volumes of nature writing, cultural history,and biography, along with hundreds of articles on natural history subjects.

Long before she died in 1966, she had become the most popular and articulate writer on the natural world of Illinois.”

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Learning as fast as she could – 1940’s northern Wisconsin pine forests

From Amazon’s author site:

Virginia S. Eifert may have lived her entire life in Springfield,Illinois, but her passions took her much farther, traveling and learning about North America’s natural and human history on a much broader scale. Born in 1911, she was ill through much of high school and never attained a high school diploma. Instead, she began journaling, learning nature on an intimate level, then developing a ‘nature news’ publication that she distributed around her neighborhood. Soon she was asked to write in this same style for one of the largest newspapers in Illinois, and by the time she was 19 she was asked to create, write, illustrate and edit a monthly magazine for the Illinois State Museum. She continued with this effort for 326 issues until 1966 and her early death at age 56. It seemed Virginia knew she had little time, and let none of it pass quietly. At the museum she also published a series of natural history booklets and wrote for many nationally distributed nature magazines such as Audubon and Nature.

In 1954, she published her first major book for a New York publisher, Dodd Mead, and went on to write 17 more, winning several national awards in the process.

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Front Ridge of the Rockies – early 1960’s

From “Celebrating the Land, Women’s Nature Writings, 1850 – 1991, Karen Knowles, 1992

“Virginia Eifert’s work was a strong political effort toward conservancy and the power of her voice is persuasive even today. Many decades of exploring the natural world and sharing her discoveries with her reading public, Eifert’s hope for a nationwide conservation effort is understandable. She had dedicated her life to observing the natural world and educating others about the wilderness she loved: The great rivers and forests of the Midwest, its plants and wild creatures, her wide-ranging knowledge of botany, ornithology, geology, and American history reflected in the many essays, articles and books she published, established her as an authority on its natural landscape.”

“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.

 

 

“I STAND BY THE RIVER AND I KNOW THAT IT HAS BEEN HERE YESTERDAY AND WILL BE HERE TOMORROW AND THAT THEREFORE, SINCE I AM PART OF ITS PATTERN TODAY, I ALSO BELONG TO ALL ITS YESTERDAYS AND WILL BE PART OF ALL ITS TOMORROWS. THIS IS A KIND OF EARTHLY IMMORTALITY, A KINSHIP WITH RIVERS AND HILLS AND ROCKS, WITH ALL THINGS AND ALL CREATURES THAT HAVE EVER LIVED OR EVER WILL LIVE OR HAVE THEIR BEING ON THE EARTH. IT IS MY ASSURANCE OF AN ORDERLY CONTINUITY IN THE GREAT DESIGN OF THE UNIVERSE.” VIRGINIA S. EIFERT

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Virginia at her best: sixth from the right – field lecture at ‘The Clearing’, Door County, Wisconsin

Out of print for over 50 years, many of her books are now becoming available as Kindle Ebooks and Nook Novels.

These are available on Amazon.com.
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Louis Jolliet

Three Rivers South

Journeys in Green Places


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River-World-Cover

Mississippi Calling

River World