Leo B. Olson (DeKalb), 1911-1990
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Brief Description: The Leo B. Olson Collection consists of materials related to Leo Olson’s community involvement, professional activities, and military service from 1911 to 1990.  The collection also includes a small amount of materials related to Olson’s family and the history of DeKalb County. His professional activities make up only a small portion of the collection. There is very little related to his time as communications director at DeKalb AgResearch. A digital image of Leo’s Bronze Medal display is part of the collection.
Held at:
Northern Illinois University
Founders Memorial Library
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL 60115
Phone: 815-753-1779
Email: rhcua [at] niu.edu
Record Series Number: RHC/RC/338
Volume: 3.75 Linear Feet
Acquired: 07/31/2014. Additional materials were donated in 2015.
Arrangement:

Series I includes information on the history of DeKalb County and s also consists of materials of his wife, Elaine (Johnson) Olson and family history (the Nelson and Johnson families). Researchers interested in family history should also see the Yvonne Johnson Collection, RC 337.

The bulk of the collection consists of the papers of Leo Olson, which are divided into two series: Personal Papers (Series II) and Military Service (Series III). The Personal Papers consist of biographical information of Leo Olson and papers related to his community and professional activities. This includes diplomas, obituaries, photographs, awards, certificates, and a number of artifacts. Also included are portraits of Leo Olson and two home movies on 8mm film. His professional activities make up only a small portion of this Personal Papers Series. There is very little related to his time as communications director at DeKalb AgResearch.  Researchers interested in his professional activities should see the DeKalb AgResearch Collection, RC 190.

Series III documents the military service of Olson, who served in the United States Air Force in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Included are military records; correspondence to his wife, Elaine Olson; souvenirs from Australia; and military pins and patches. Of particular interest is the Bronze Medal awarded to Olson, as well as the photographs and scrapbooks of his military service.

Addendum: It is evident that Olson was a skilled artist and intrigued by birds, particularly parrots and finches, as he has several sketchbooks and loose drawings of avian that were compiled during his time of service in the Pacific Theater. Olson often completed his works of art by using watercolors to paint his bird drawings. Many of the sketchbooks and scrapbooks in the addendum contain taxonomy and species descriptions in addition to Leo’s drawing and watercolors. Also included in the addendum are photographs, mostly portraits of Leo or of trips with his wife, Elaine.

Access Restrictions: There are no restrictions on access to the collection. Twenty- four hours advanced notice is requested for the audio-visual material due to the need of special equipment.
Subject Index
Advertising -- Agriculture
Aerial photographs.
Air Force
DeKalb County (Ill.)-- History
Kishwaukee United Way
Northern Illinois University
Olson, Elaine V.
Olson, Leo B.
Sycamore (Ill.)
Veterans
World War, 1939-1945 – Campaigns – Pacific Ocean
World War II
Rights/Use Restrictions: Property rights in the collection belong to the Regional History Center, literary rights are dedicated to the public.
Technical Access Notes: A digital image of Leo’s Bronze Medal display may be accessed on the computer in the Center's reading room.
Acquisition Notes: Yvonne Johnson
Related Materials:

Researchers interested in his professional activities should see the DeKalb AgResearch Collection, RC 190.

Researchers interested in family history should also see the Yvonne Johnson Collection, RC 337.