Lois S. Kent

1912 to 1999

One of the important paleontological curators of her time, Lois Schoonover Kent was educated at Oberlin College, Bryn Mawr College, and Cornell University. She was a founding member of the Paleontological Institute at Ithaca, New York. Kent served as an assistant geologist for the U.S. Geological Survey from 1941 to 1945. For a year (1954 to 1955), she was an instructor of geology at the University of Illinois. In 1956, she joined the Illinois State Geological Survey, continuing until her retirement in 1985.

As curator of the Survey's extensive paleontological collections, Kent was internationally known, receiving researchers from Australia, Sweden, Japan, Canada, and Brazil as well as throughout the United States. Kent was known for her knowledge of collections and for prompt loans of specimens as well as prompt returns. She did not hesitate to travel to recover collections. Many published reports were the result of her strong dedicated support. The Survey collections became quite large, well curated, and well cataloged.

Among Kent's most important accomplishments, however, were her years of search for specimens that could be used to illustrate the Survey's publication, Guide for Beginning Fossil Hunters, which contains more than 400 drawings made from actual specimens. In some cases, a number of specimens were required to produce one accurate illustration. Her critical evaluations of drawings ensured quality as well.

Kent's reputation as a dedicated, reasonable curator led collectors of uniquely valuable collections to reposit them with Illinois Survey. The remarkable Cleburn-Strimple Collection of Pennsylvanian crinoids from Livingston County is an example.

In addition to supporting her colleagues, Kent prepared catalogs of the collections. Foremost was a comprehensive publication, Survey Circular 524, of the type and figured specimens in the Amos Worthen Collections. Included was a detailed biography of Frank DeWolf, the second Director of the earlier Survey and one of its most successful leaders. The Illinois State Geological Survey was fortunate to have this gifted curator.

Honored by: 
Claudia Gross
Citation Contributed by: 
Charles W. Collinson