Natalia M. Belting, a well-known authority on Illinois history, was born in Iowa, but moved to Urbana, Ill., with her father, University of Illinois professor Paul E. Belting. She received her A.B. degree in journalism from the university in 1930, her A.B. in history in 1937, and her doctorate in 1940. In 1941 she joined the university's history department, remaining there until her retirement in 1985. Specializing in early Illinois history, Belting gave particular attention to the Native Americans and French of the Illinois Country. In addition to her scholarly work, Belting wrote over twenty historical works for children, authored the syndicated "Illinois Past" column for central Illinois newspapers, and became a widely known speaker on Illinois history.
In addition to Belting's papers relating to the history of Illinois, the collection contains "Illinois Past" columns from Dec. 9, 1979 to Jun. 29, 1986. Access to specific columns is available through annual, chronological indexes. The collection also contains drawings prepared for a 1954 WILL television series in Illinois history that Belting hosted along with Professor Robert M. Sutton. The correspondence file includes information on the Prince of Wales' visit to central Illinois in 1860 and an exchange of letters with Saturday Review editor Norman Cousins.
Dr. Belting donated the collection to the Illinois Historical Survey throughout the 1980s.