Fermilab History and Archives Project

Remembrance of Things Past, 2000-2001

Return to Farm History and Site Map

The title of this exhibit is especially appropriate since it is the work of our Site History Committee to remember the things that happened in the past on Fermilab's site. We have worked for over six years gathering documents, photographs, memories, and artifacts that are important to preserve if we are to know and appreciate our history. Much of what we have been able to capture has come from the people who lived here before the state of Illinois donated the land to the United States Atomic Energy Commission, now the Department of Energy.

For thirty years visitors have wondered how Fermilab came to occupy 6,800 acres of land at the edge of DuPage and Kane Counties. Among their initial questions are:

  • How old is Fermilab? Has Fermilab always looked this way? What was here before?
  • Who were the people who lived here? What happened to them? Where did they live? Where, why and when did they go?
  • Why are farmhouses and barns parts of a physics research lab?
  • What do the site numbers mean?

In 1997 we hosted an Open House for the families of the farmers who were displaced in 1967-69. We invited them back again in 1998. Both times we displayed photographs of their farms and their pre-1967 lives so that we might learn some answers to the questions. We have been fortunate to get wonderful responses from our guests and we have learned much.

In 1998, Fermilab's former director, John Peoples, suggested that we raise the level of our photograph exhibit and assemble a formal show for the Fermilab Art Gallery. We took his suggestion to heart and brought together some of the history of thirteen of the fifty-six farm families who lived here before 1968. We hope to include more families in future exhibits.

This exhibit of historic photographs is our gift to the generous families who gave so much of themselves so that the Nation and the World might have Fermilab.

Farm Families