Fred Charles (1872-1911), who was raised in Aurora and Austin (Chicago), Ill., received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from Northwestern University. He taught biology first at Lake View High School in Chicago and then, 1899-1909, at the Northern Illinois State Normal School (Northern Illinois University). In 1909, he became assistant professor of agricultural education at the University of Illinois, but resigned two years later because of ill health.
At Northern, Charles inaugurated The Northern Illinois, a monthly student magazine, which paid tribute to him in the June 1911 issue. He also published a number of Northern Illinois Nature Study Leaflets and The Nature-Study Review, a bi-monthly publication. In addition, the collection includes poetry written by Charles, his diaries in a seven year period, and numerous photographs.
The Fred Charles papers were donated to the University of Illinois Library in 2014 by his grandson, Clarendon Van Norman, Jr.