Lydia Moore Hart, together with Charlotte M. Pinkerton, created the original watercolors and illustrations that graced the pages of The Fishes of Illinois.
A native of Quincy, Illinois, Lydia began working at the INHS in 1891, and it is speculated that she was related to Charles Hart, an entomologist working for Forbes in 1880. Lydia—along with Charlotte Pinkerton—displayed work at the Columbian Exhibition at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893.
Lydia spent part of her time at a field station in Havana, Illinois, where an aquarium was maintained with "a continuous flow of water to keep fishes alive." She used these fishes to render drawings that were "accurate in detail, and true to life in color, form, and attitude."
During the mid-1980s, John Sherrod—a former illustrator at INHS—discovered Lydia and Charlotte's artwork in boxes in the INHS attic.
John Sherrod speculates that Lydia must have invented the tools of her art, or at least adapted what she purchased—a single hair brush and a quill sharper than a needle. One of her techniques is called stippling (making endless numbers of dots with a sharply pointed instrument). The density of the ink used, coupled with the size and spacing of the tiny dots, defines and shades the subject.