EOL History

The Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) began in 2007 with the bold idea to provide “a webpage for every species." EOL brings together trusted information from resources across the world such as museums, learned societies, expert scientists, and others into one massive database and a single, easy-to-use online portal at EOL.org .

While the idea to create an online species database had existed prior to 2007, Dr. Edward O. Wilson's 2007 TED Prize speech was the catalyst for the EOL you see today. The site went live in February 2008 to international media attention.

The initative was started with generous seed funding from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur and Alfred P. Sloan Foundations. The five original EOL cornerstone institutions included the Field Museum, Harvard University, the Marine Biological Laboratory, Missouri Botanical Garden and the Smithsonian Institution.

Today, the Encyclopedia of Life is expanding to become a global community of collaborators and contributors serving the general public, enthusiastic amateurs, educators, students and professional scientists from around the world. It is sustained through the contributions of its supporting institutions and individual donors around the world, as well as through collaborations on a broad portfolio of grants.