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A Short History of the ESW

Reprinted from Proceedings Vol. 78, No. 3, July 1976 pp. 225-239 PDF reprint launch PDF document

Ashley B. Gurney
Resident Cooperating Scientist
Systematic Entomology Laboratory
IIBIII, Agr. Res. Serv., USDA

In 1976, in celebration of the American Bicentennial and in recognition of the convening of the XVth International Congress of Entomology in Washington, D.C., it is appropriate to review the history of the Entomology Society of Washington. Although a "local" organization in the sense that all of its meetings are held in the Washington metropolitan area and most of its officers live nearby, its influence during the 92 years of its existence has been not only nationwide but has reached many countries abroad. Meetings have been held regularly, beginning in 1884, and the Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington, appearing first in March, 1886, has continued to carry original contributions dealing with all phases of entomology, but especially taxonomy. Among the dozens of entomological societies that have existed for varying periods (Sabrosky, 1956), only three in the Americas, which have continued uninterrupted publication of their periodicals, are older than our Society. These will be mentioned later in discussion of some influences relating to the establishment of such societies in America.

Partly due to its location here in our nation's capital, many productive and well-known entomologists have been leaders in the Society. In our profession of entomology, small at first but now in rapid growth, these men and women have achieved recognition of some permanence. Sabrosky (1964) has given some of the early history of entomological work in the U.S. government; taxonomic work was not established as a separate entity until 1925.

Early in 1884, three young to middle-aged entomologists employed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (hereinafter referred to as USDA) felt a desire to meet with other entomologists in the Washington-Baltimore area to discuss entomological subjects in an informal fashion away from official surroundings.

The three, Charles Valentine Riley, Eugene Amandus Schwarz, and Leland Ossian Howard, invited local entomologists to a preliminary meeting in Dr. Riley's home on February 29, 1884, at which time the Entomological Society of Washington was organized. Brief biographical sketches of the three original organizers follow:

Riley (1843-1895), four years President of the Society, was born in Chelsea, London, England, and came to America at the age of 17. As a youth he already displayed much personal charm, intense ambition, willingness to work to the point of exhaustion, and natural talent as an illustrator. He became much interested in farm life and agricultural practices, and some personal associations, especially that with Benjamin D. Walsh of Illinois, who was also of English birth and education, fostered his enthusiasm for studying insects. Riley had an unusual blend of talents, ambition, and artistic flair. Although he was a controversial figure, he gave a great impetus to entomology. He was distinguished first as an entomologist in Missouri in 1868-1876, was Chief of the U.S. Entomological Commission in 1877, and from 1878, except for short gaps, was the ranking USDA entomologist. In an honorary curatorial position, he founded the Division of Insects (now Department of Entomology) at the Smithsonian Institution in 1880.

Schwarz (1844-1928) was twice President, and in 1916 the position of Honorary President (for life) was created for him. He was born in Germany and acquired an entomological background and classical education there. As a learned entomologist specializing in beetles, he came to Harvard University in 1872 and was associated for a short time with the famous scholars Hermann August Hagen and Louis Agassiz. From 1878 until the end of his life he was associated with the USDA and was located at the Smithsonian Institution much of that time. His European experience, classical background, and professional contacts had a rich scholarly influence on the growth of entomology in the USDA and the U.S. National Museum. He was not so much a writer of important monographs as a broad student of insect biology and constant guiding figure in the research and professional development of numerous associates. Two colleagues who came under his influence when very young and who acquired many of his skills were Herbert S. Barber (1882-1950) and Raymond C. Shannon (1894-1945). Barber did not receive collegiate training but was an extremely keen and innovative coleopterist who remained in taxonomic work in Washington throughout his life. Probing the strange life history of Micromalthus beetles and the distinctive flashing and other behavior of lampyrid beetles (fireflies) were among his leading research accomplishments. Shannon acquired university training and spent most of his career abroad, chiefly in South America as a medical entomologist, but remained regularly in touch with Dr. Schwarz. He became renowned for studies of Anopheles gambiae in Brazil, mosquito-borne jungle yellow fever, and the ecology of various other biting flies that transmit disease. During late 1927 he participated in a notable collecting expedition to the southern part of South America which supplied much material for the series "Diptera of Patagonia and South Chile" published by the British Museum (Nat. Hist.) and contributed greatly to the knowledge of the then poorly known insect fauna of that region. Both Barber and Shannon were active members of the Society, especially in their earlier years.

Howard (1857-1950) was three times President, and Honorary President from 1929 to 1950. He was born in Illinois and studied entomology under John H. Comstock at Cornell University, in fact, he was Comstock's first student on a laboratory problem, though other students attended his lectures on entomology earlier. An early associate of Riley in Washington, he was Chief Entomologist of the USDA from 1894 until 1927. A very small group of entomologists was employed by Agriculture when, at the age of 26, he helped found the Society. When he retired as Chief of the Bureau of Entomology there were hundreds of employees and dozens of laboratories in which Agriculture entomologists served. Throughout his career he tried to meet and know personally each entomologist. He was a great historian of entomology and became a highly successful leader in medical entomology and in economic entomology generally. At first he was a taxonomist of parasitic Hymenoptera, and that experience probably contributed strongly to the impetus he gave to the organization and growth of biological control of insect pests.

Entomological societies which preceded ours and which have continued to publish regularly are: 1) The American Entomological Society, 1867, successor to the Entomological Society of Philadelphia, founded in 1859, and whose Proceedings were prior to the Transactions of the American Entomological Society; 2) The Entomological Society of Canada, organized in 1863, and publishing the Canadian Entomologist since 1868, was interrupted from 1871 until 1951, during which period its activities were taken on by the Entomological Society of Ontario; and 3) The Cambridge Entomological Club, founded in 1874, which began the publication of Psyche in the same year. The Brooklyn Entomological Society, 1872, began its Buletin in 1878, but publication was interrupted from 1886 until 1912, and then suspended again in 1966.

Incentives to start entomological societies probably arose from several factors. One or more men already experienced abroad, usually in England or Germany, were located where each of the abovementioned societies started. The native urge to collect and classify the fauna was given new enthusiasm by association with those familiar with insect study in countries where it already had a place in the culture of the people. Each group of new enthusiasts felt the need to accumulate identified specimens, reference literature, and bibliographies of old and current literature. In most groups there was a physician, clergyman, or teacher at a nearby college to contribute to the group's resources. The practical aspects of learning about insects were a factor in some groups, at least in Washington and Ontario. The Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Philadelphia show a departure from its usual taxonomic papers in Walsh's reports on injurious insects. In 1864 he published extensive lists of insect species he regarded as common to the faunas of the Old World and North America, taking issue with the "New England School of Naturalists," who argued that the species of the two regions are nearly all distinct. Early publications show that the Philadelphia and Ontario groups were composed chiefly of men of English origin or ancestry. The Brooklyn group was nearly all of German background, as were also many of those in Washington. Hagen was an outstanding entomologist of German origin at Cambridge, where Schwarz also participated before coming to Washington. Although a majority of the early members of the Entomological Society of Washington were of Anglo-Saxon ancestry, a considerable number besides Schwarz were of German birth, including several who were of considerable influence and did much to shape the Society. George Marx, A. J. Schafhirt, Otto Heidemann, Theodore Pergande, and Frederick Knab may be mentioned. Albert Koebele was another; he joined the Brooklyn Society before coming to Washington and joining the group here. He distinguished himself later in the introduction of imported parasites and predators in California.

Pergande (1840-1916) was a member of the Society's Executive Committee in 1886-1889, and made a much larger contribution to entomology as a whole than his position as preparator and general assistant would suggest. His limited formal research concerned aphids, but his rearing and preparing of specimens were his main achievements, earning him the appellation of "a positive genius in his work on the life history of insects." (Howard, 1930:96).

Somewhat later, two Danes, both educated in the natural scienccs in their native country, were prominent members. August Busck (President, 1913) did pioneering research on the systematics of Micro-Lepidoptera, and Adam G. Boving (President, 1924) did basic work on larval Coleoptera. Howard (1931, 1934), Wade (1936), and Nelson (1960) wrote on the founders and officers of the Society at length, showing clearly that European training and methods on the part of influential members were of major importance not only in their individual careers but in the leadership given to the Society.

Ten persons attended the organizing meeting of the Society at Riley's home, and six others came to a second meeting on March 12 (Howard, 1895: 162; 1934:52). From this group of 16 "real founders," membership in the Society increased to 26 by the time the first constitution was signed on April 3, 1884. Only 25 signatures are in the original record book, but a 26th man, A. J. Schafhirt, attended the first meeting and was active for some years later. By 1902 the number had grown to 114, and at the beginning of 1976 there were 498 members on the rolls. In recent years the number has remained relatively constant.

Many well-known entomologists were located for a time in the Washington area and took important parts in the Society's activities during its early years, but their careers later took them elsewhere, so that at least as far as the meetings were concerned they then had little or no participation. Lawrence Bruner came to Washington briefly on his wedding trip, during which time he helped to found the Society. His highly successful career was nearly all spent in Nebraska, but he cooperated closely with the Washington entomologists for many years. Otto Lugger, also a founder, and one who lived in or near Washington for some years, later was best known as State Entomologist of Minnesota.

John B. Smith was active in the Society during the nearly 5 years (1885-1889) that he served as Assistant Curator at the U.S. National Museum; during the remainder of his somewhat short but brilliant career he was at Rutgers University, in New Jersey. C. H. T. Townsend was often in Washington during the first half of his career, serving in various capacities for Agriculture, though periods of other employment intervened, and he was an officer of the Society as early as 1889. After World War I he was employed chiefly in South America while he was writing his Manual of Myiology. Nathan Banks was employed by the USDA for some time (1890-1892, 1896-1916), and was twice President of the Society (1905, 1906). As a taxonomist he wrote many basic synopses of several groups of insects and arachnids. Late in 1916 he moved to Massachusetts and contributed greatly to the internationally famous collection at Harvard University. W. D. Hunter came from Nebraska and spent much of his rather short career in Texas and other southern states where he led in the control of pests of cotton and other field crops, as well as contributing to medical entomology. He spent much time in Washington and served as first Editor of the Proceedings (1913-1914) and as President in 1914. A. C. Baker had a long career in the study of insects attack ing fruit, the latter part of it in Mexico for the USDA. He was Editor from 1918 through 1923 and President in 1931.

The Society's regular meetings have changed much since the early years when lively discussion and conviviality were probably the "real life" of the group. Even in recent years, for members who do not publish or have only marginal taxonomic interests, meetings are the main function of the Society. During the first 25 years, meetings were held mostly in the homes of members. Pre-announced subjects were introduced by short talks, followed by lively comment and a social hour with refreshments (usually beer). Manuscripts for publication were sometimes "presented by title only" and until mid-1918 program items were called "Communications." A large and interesting collection of program cards is preserved in three large spring-binder notebooks. There are no cards for the first 245 meetings (1884-1910), and there are other gaps, notably meetings 318451 ( 1919-1933 ) . The first meeting designated by a number was the 137th, on October 20, 1898. The first meeting of 1976, in January, was the 829th.

Attendance averaged 11 per meeting for the first 99 meetings, and the men were of early middle age. For a while, even after increased attendance made it impractical to meet in homes, one member would "entertain" at each meeting, that is, arrange for the refreshments and perhaps choose the subject for discussion. The term "entertain" was discontinued at the beginning of 1918. Howard (1895) summarized the first 99 meetings, giving locations, subjects discussed, and he told which members participated most. He later recalled (Howard, 1909: 14) how strongly the convivial character of the meetings was akin to German university life, perhaps due to the generous representation of members of German origin or to the fact that in those years many American students took advanced training in German universities. On this subject it is interesting to read an informal poem read by Howard at the 100th meeting on June 7, 1894 and quoted by him later (Howard, 1931:210).

There was some difference of opinion in early years concerning the propriety of Agriculture employees talking about their official duties at Society meetings. Riley was opposed to it (Howard, 1909; Walton and Bishopp, 1937). Through the years, however, many meeting programs have dealt with the scientific aspects of insect study or control projects, though questions of policy and administrative decisions have been avoided. Another question which arose concerned contributions from members who studied Crustacea or other "non-insects," an indication of the breadth and vitality of early meetings attracting professional men of other disciplines. In 1894, when a member wished to publish a paper on crabs, arguing that they were as closely related to insects as are arachnids, it was decided that the field of endeavor afforded by insects was so large that it would be unwise to expand manuscript acceptance to include Crustacea ( Howard, 1909). For many years manuscripts intended for publication were "read at a meeting and then turned over to the Publications Committee. The practice was discontinued, perhaps because of a situation that arose in 1915, when a member was scheduled to "read a taxonomic paper, but when called upon for it he declined to do so, explaining that following the reading of another paper of his at an earlier meeting a fellow member had published on the same subject with "remarkable celerity." This controversy about the time schedule for the publishing of a manuscript was apparently finally settled amicably, according to correspondence in the Society's files.

A few particularly notable meetings have been held. One was for a lecture on insect coloration given at a special meeting on February 28, 1894 by Prof. E. B. Poulton, of Oxford, England, with 27 in attendance, the largest number to that date. Dr. August Krogh, of Denmark, lectured on respiration of insects at a meeting on November 8, 1922. On January 7, 1915, when W. D. Hunter gave his address as Retiring President on "Some Observations on Medical Entomology" at a regular meeting, the 48 members and 21 visitors comprised the largest attendance again for a regular meeting. At the March 1, 1934 meeting, held at the Cosmos Club, when Howard and Rohwer each spoke, 151 people attended. At the meeting honoring the memory of Herbert Barber, held on October 5, 1950, 141 persons registered, although the room was too small for all to remain.

When the number of Society members was small and the working entomologists in Washington (mostly employed by Agriculture) were a closely-knit group, the death of a colleague often was recognized by a special meeting or a special program at a regular meeting. Such were two joint meetings of the Society and "the force of the Bureau" held in June and July, 1911 in honor of the recently deceased members D. W. Coquillett and F. C. Pratt, respectively. Coquillett was a largely self-educated entomologist, a distinguished dipterist and applied entomologist, and Pratt was a highly skilled preparator and aid in rearing procedures and a wide variety of general duties, so highly regarded both for his work and as a person that he became a vital member of the Society and the Bureau. Such meetings were often held shortly after the demise of the member, and several associates would make spontaneous remarks in tribute to him.

Reports of the early meetings gave much detail. Entomologists elsewhere found them of interest, probably because there were fewer journals then, but also because many discussions centered about field experiences and general biological notes. For one thing, members prepared for and expected to discuss particular subjects, so that considered, worthwhile comments were made. Techniques were described too; for instance, at the April 5, 1894 meeting Schwarz showed specimens of "small insects mounted on cardboard triangles in such a manner as to leave the sternum free for examination and study," a method that has become the commonly used one of "pointing" specimens with triangles and adhesive. Another interesting item in the old reports is one by Howard (1909:16): "While I was writing these words this morning the door of my office opened, and in came old Professor Cyrus Thomas, 84 years of age, but mentally as active as ever. He came in to suggest the idea that certain non-migratory locusts, after a succession of dry seasons, grow longer wings and become migratory." Thomas was suggesting then what proved to be a tremendous independent discovery more than 10 years later by Boris P. (later Sir Boris) Uvarov, the "phase theory" about changed behavior and morphology of gregarious vs. solitary phases of some destructive grasshoppers.

"Abridged minutes" of the meetings were published in Insect Life, a periodical published by the USDA and edited by Riley and Howard, during its short but productive life from 1888 until it was discontinued in favor of 2 series of Bulletins in July 1895. This also considerably enlarged public awareness of the Society's activities. Later minutes have been in less detail because of higher printing costs and fewer original observations reported at meetings. In 1918-1931, reports of Society meetings were published in the Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences, as documented in detail by Wade ( 1931), then later and still published in the Proceedings.

After it became impractical to hold meetings in members' homes, a variety of locations were used. For many years the Saengerbund Hall, 314 C Street N.W., provided a friendly gathering place. So congenial was the atmosphere and so cooperative was the "Bund that at the 301st meeting, February 8, 1917, a "nearly life-size portrait" of Schwarz, a guiding spirit of the Society, was presented to the Saengerbund and accepted by its president as a mark of close ties. Meetings at the Saengerbund were discontinued soon after Prohibition (Rohwer, 1934). After meeting at several places, including the Cosmos Club, meetings at the Natural History Museum of the Smithsonian Institution became regular; the meeting of November 4, 1920 was probably the first.

With increased attendance, often well over 50 persons, including many women, there has been somewhat less audience participation. Recent meetings have usually had a single speaker, sometimes two, and occasionally there has been a panel presentation. Subjects have varied widely, including original research, travel reports, reviews of national and international meetings, summaries of current projects, and historical reviews. An effort has been made to stimulate spontaneous notes on any aspect of entomology, and at some meetings there is a lively volunteer session. There has unfortunately never been much participation by amateur entomologists, as already noted by Howard (1924). For many years refreshments were omitted, mainly because of building management's requests, but for several years now they have been resumed. With a larger number of women active in entomology, they have contributed more; in 1966 and 1969, Louise M. Russell and Helen Sollers-Riedel, respectively, were President.

A total of 77 volumes of the Proceedings has appeared. Material from more than one year was included in a single volume in some early years. The Proceedings was published quarterly at first; it was monthly except for July, August, and September during 1919-1948; it became bimonthly in 1949; and since 1960 it has again been quarterly.

Indexing of the Proceedings has been various, from lacking to detailed. Exchange subscriptions for other journals was discontinued about 1911. Most editors have not published editorials; Carl Heinrich and A. C. Baker often did, and there has occasionally been an editorial by someone else, such as L. 0. Howard or W. L. McAtee. Prior to 1913, the Proceedings were edited by a Publications Committee; since that time, there has been a succession of 12 Editors. William R. Walton served longest, 1927 through 1942. At present the Editor is Chairman of the Publications Committee, consisting of 3 appointed members, one of whom is replaced each year.

At the meeting of December 5, 1912, H. G. Dyar (1866-1929) was referred to as "editor," but apparently only in the sense of being on the committee responsible for editorial duties. He was an unusual, very talented and productive entomologist, working chiefly on the taxonomy of Diptera and Lepidoptera. He was a man of considerable private means, and after completing his term on the Publications Committee he organized his own journal, Insecutor Inscitiae Mewtruus, published during 1913 to 1927. Until the end of 1912 he had been active in the Society and was twice President (1901, 1902).

At that same meeting of December 5, 1912, J. C. Crawford was elected Editor, as noted by Rohwer (1934), but he resigned on February 6, 1913 and W. D. Hunter was elected in his place and served through 1914. Crawford served during 1915 through 1917. Later Editors are: A. C. Baker, 1918-1923; Carl Heinrich, 1924-1926; William R. Walton, 1927-1942; Alan Stone, 1943-May, 1947; Karl V. Krombein, June 1947-1951; Barnard D. Burks, 1952-1954; Richard H. Foote, 1955-1962; Jon L. Herring, 1963-1967; Paul M. Marsh, 1968-1972; Lloyd V. Knutson, 1973-. Baker and Hunter have already been mentioned. Crawford (1880-1950) was a specialist in Hymenoptera and late in his career also studied thrips. Heinrich (1880-1955) specialized on Lepidoptera and was an accomplished writer on many subjects, including poetry and newspaper editorials. Walton (1873- 1952) was a skilled illustrator, an experienced dipterist, and a good general entomologist; he was twice President (1920, 1921) and Editor for a longer time than anyone else. Stone (1904-) was President in 1951 and served Agriculture as a Diptera specialist for 40 years. He is best known for his studies on bloodsucking flies, Anastrepha and other fruitflies, other Diptera, and catalogues. Krombein (191%) served as President in 1970, is well-known as a wasp specialist, and took a leading part in the preparation of Hymenoptera catalogues. Burks (1909-) was President in 1974, is an outstanding specialist on Chalcidoidea (Hymenoptera), and did major work on mayflies. Foote (1918-), President in 1968, is currently Chief of the Systematic Entomology Laboratory, USDA, and for many years has been an active taxonomist on Diptera, especially mosquitoes and Tephritidae. Herring (1922-) is active with Hemiptera, especially aquatic families, in the Systematic Entomology Laboratory. Marsh (1936) serves as taxonomist on parasitic Hymenoptera, primarily Braconidae, for the Systematic Entomology Laboratory. Knutson (1934-) is a specialist on Diptera, especially the snail-killing flies of the family Sciomyzidae, and is currently Chairman of the Insect Identification and Beneficial Insect Introduction Institute, USDA.

In 1939 the publication of Memoirs, each representing a separate comprehensive study of major importance, was begun, and 6 Memoirs have been issued at irregular times, as the availability of appropriate manuscripts and the necessary funds permit. The Memoir series is supported by a special publication fund maintained by donations, the sale of Memoirs and certain back stock of the Proceedings, and formerly by a portion of members' annual dues. The fund was established, effective January 1, 1915, on a motion by H. S. Barber at the April 1, 1915 meeting. At the June 7, 1894 meeting, L. 0. Howard already had suggested such a fund. In 1913, a member then living in Baltimore, J. M. Lawford, died and bequeathed to the Society in his will a collection of specimens and a library. The specimens were donated to the U.S. National Museum and the books sold, the proceeds being added to the publication fund (Rohwer, 1934). Since that time, the chief donations to the Fund have been by Alan Stone, $4,070; Frederick Knab, $1,400; E. A. Schwarz, $1,000; Charles T. Greene, $500; Lewis P. Ditman, $100. These donations have been the means of publishing some important works of lasting value.

Categories of membership have varied through the years. Active and associate members were distinguished early, those in the local area being classed as Active Members, those living elsewhere as Associate Members. The latter were for a while called Corresponding Members. During the 1890's Rudolph Leuckart, of Germany (1823-1898), who had been one of Schwarz' professors, was elected Honorary Member, but he died soon afterward. At that time, this class membership was restricted to foreign entomologists who had made outstanding contributions to entomology, but later a local coleopterist, Henry Ulke (1821-1910), was elected. In 1915 Jean H. Fabre, of France, and David Sharp, of England were elected. Fabre died in 1915, Sharp in 1922, and resolutions of esteem and remembrance were adopted for both (Proceedings, 1S:l; 24:207). For a long while there were no further Honorary Members, but in the late 1950's this class was reactivated for "recognition of long and meritorious effort to advance entomological science." Honorary Members shall not be more than 3, or 4 if one is also Honorary President. The following entomologists, all long-time members in the Washington area, are the current Honorary Members, together with their date of election to that status: C. F. W. Muesebeck, 1955 (Honorary President); E. N. Cory, 1965; F. W. Poos, 1965; R. A. St. George, 1975.

Life Membership, which gives full membership privileges without further payment of dues in return for a substantial single fee, is now held by 7 persons. Emeritus Members, now 12 in number, are those of 15 or more years standing, who elect to forego receiving the Proceedings, who are retired from regular employment, and are approved for this status by the Executive Committee.

The office of Honorary President for Life, was created for E. A. Schwarz in 1916 in recognition of his exceptional contributions to the Society. Following the death of Schwarz in 1928, L. 0. Howard, then the sole surviving founder (except for Lawrence Bruner, who was retired in California) was chosen. He was succeeded in 1951 by C. L. Marlatt (1863-1954), who was twice President (1896, 1897) and best known as Chief of the Bureau of Entomology, USDA, from 1927 through 1934 and for his studies on the periodical cicada and the history of the spread of the San Josd scale. Following Marlatt was Robert E. Snodgrass (1875-1962), President in 1939, who was the foremost American insect morphologist of his time and the author of 4 outstanding books and 80 scientific papers, most of which remain classics in their field. His skill as an illustrator contributed much to the usefulness of his work. The Honorary Presidency was next awarded to Thomas E. Snyder (1885-1970), President in 1949, a leading figure in the systematic and applied phases of termite study and a lifelong student of other pests of wood products. The current Honorary President is Carl F. W. Muesebeck (1894-), President in 1940, who has continued taxonomic research on parasitic Hymenoptera since his retirement over 20 years ago. As head of the Taxonomic Investigations Unit, USDA, for about 20 years, now reorganized as the Systematic Entomology Laboratory, he established for the Laboratory an enviable tradition of service and research and at the same time led the compilation of the Synoptic Catalog of the Hymenoptera of America North of Mexico, published in 1951.

During the Society's 92 years, 75 people have served as President. Until the 1920's, reelection for a second year was normal, though there were exceptions due to job transfers, health, etc. A nearly complete departure from 2-year terms began in 1922, when Arthur B. Gahan, the well-known specialist on parasitic Hymenoptera, then in his first year as President and a sincere admirer of his chief, felt it appropriate that Dr. Howard should again head the Society to which he had given so much. Hence, Dr. Howard served a third term. Since that time, only J. E. Graf, 1929 and 1930, has served for two years.

Because the early Presidents were relatively young and some of them lived remarkably long, while the single-term tradition has resulted in a larger number of them, it is interesting to note that a few living members of advanced age have known personally all except ten or fewer of the Presidents. Even the writer of these lines, who came to Washington in 1936, has known all but 13 of the 75 Presidents! There has been a marked trend toward increased age in the presidency. During the first two decades, 18841903, the average age was under 44; during the past four decades, it has been 54, and the average age of the last ten Presidents is 58. The youngest President was L. 0. Howard, 28 when his first term began, the oldest Otto Heidemann, 69 at the end of his second term. The youngest President chosen recently is Arthur K. Burditt, Jr. (1928-), who was 44 when elected in December, 1972 after serving a year as President- Elect and previously as an energetic Treasurer. Unfortunately, because of a transfer to Florida, he found it necessary to resign immediately after taking office.

A chronological list of the Presidents was published in 1970 (Proceedings, 72:512). Bibliographies of those who served up to 1935 were given by Wade (1936), who himself served in 1934 and was an enthusiastic and patient bibliographer and compiler.

Other officers have provided able and dedicated service to the Society, and the value of their service is no less than that of the Presidency, but they remain largely unsung. The office of Treasurer is laborious and time-consuming, but very important. We have been fortunate in having some very capable Treasurers. Sievert A. Rohwer (1888-1951) held the combined office of Corresponding Secretary-Treasurer during 1911-34, and the breadth of his work for the Society is suggested by the fact that 4 officers now share the responsibilities that he bore single-handedly. In 1928 he also served as President. As a USDA entomologist for more than 40 years, he was a specialist on wasps and later had extensive managerial duties as an Assistant Chief of the Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine. Donald J. Caffrey (1886-1960) was Corresponding Secretary during 1937 through 1940, and did an unusually fine job in arranging and revitalizing the sale of the stored volumes of the Proceedings and the general conduct of the office. He was an Agriculture entomologist for 43 years, dealing with many crop pests, especially the European corn borer, and planning and leading an extensive research program. We hope that someone will continue the biographic work so ably started by Wade, referred to in the preceding paragraph.

On the cover of the Proceedings issued in March, 1894 there first appeared the outline of an insect as the Society Seal, which remained in use there except for the years 1921-1936. A new engraver's cut was made in 1937 and again in 1964. Jon L. Herring made the drawing for the last cut and explained its significance (Herring, 1964). The insect is a winged male of Rheurrutobates rileyi Bergroth (Hemiptera, Gerridae), a water strider about 7 mm long, including outstretched legs. The middle legs are longest, and the male has peculiarly specialized antennae. The species is widely distributed on quiet freshwater in the eastern United States. Two brief notes were published by Riley and Howard (1891, 1893). The design was originally adopted at the Society meeting of November 2, 1893 (Proceedings 3:83): "President Riley in the chair, and 12 members present. Mr. Heidemann presented designs for a seal for the Society. One of the designs was adopted, and Mr. Heidemann was urged to engrave it upon wood. Upon motion a vote of thanks was extended to Mr. Heidemann for his voluntary services in this matter." Otto Heidemann (1842-1916), President in 1909-1910, learned wood engraving as a student in Leipzig, Germany, and continued as an illustrator and engraver of insects after coming to this country. He was past 50 when hired as an entomologist by Agriculture in Washington, but he became a highly respected and productive specialist on Hemiptera.

This account has brought together many of the more interesting facts in the history of the Entomological Society of Washington, but there is not space to recount, even briefly, many more interesting aspects of the people who have been connected with the Society. Howard (1930) and Mallis (1971) have told more about many of them.

The Society is fortunate to have been located where there are enough entomologists to form a strong nucleus, but the majority of its members and subscribers live outside the Washington area, and readers of the Proceedings are widespread in the United States and foreign countries. Current circulation, to both members and subscribers, is about 750 copies. Although without a formally organized office facility and salaried staff, the Society has continued to serve entomology usefully within the scope of its traditional functions. One of its most active members, Curtis W. Sabrosky (President, 1972), has the distinction of being President of the XVth International Congress of Entomology, which meets in Washington during August 19-27, 1976.

What of the future? We cannot predict what economic and populational changes will bring. The Society has had numerous fine younger officers in recent years, but we clearly need more younger members to participate in the production of stimulating and innovative programs. We must become familiar with new and more economical methods of information dissemination and have good, sound managers to continue to publish and be responsive to the needs of our readers. Our current President, George C. Steyskal, a long-time student of the Diptera, is an imaginative and dedicated leader, and with his help we hope that 1976 will begin a new strong period of service to entomology by the Society.


Herring, J. L. (Editor) 1964. The official seal of the Entomological Society of Washington. Proc. Entomol. Soc. Wash. 66: l.

Howard, L. 0. 1895. A review of the work of the Entomological Society of Washington during the first ten years of its existence. Idem. 3: 161-167.

-- 1909. The Entomological Society of Washington. Idem. 11: 8-18.

-- 1924. On entomological societies. Idem. 26: 25-27.

-- 1930. A history of applied entomology. Smithsonian Misc. Collns. 84: 1-564.

-- 1931. [Report on historical talk given at meeting]. Proc. Entomol. Soc. Wash. 33: 206-211.

-- 1934. More about the beginnings of the Society. Idem. 36: 51-55.

Mallis, A. 1971. American entomologists. Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, N.J. 549 p.

Nelson, R. H. 1960. The Jubilee Year. Proc. Entomol. Soc. Wash. 62: 271-277.

Riley, C. V. and L. 0. Howard. (Editors). 1891. An interesting aquatic bug. Insect Life. 4: 198-200. Article unsigned; authorship of such explained in vol. 5: [402].

-- 1893. An interesting aquatic bug (Rheumatobates rileyi Bergroth). Idem. 5: 189-194.

Rohwer, S. A. 1934. Remarks on changes in the Entomological Society of Washington during the last quarter of a century. Proc. Entomol. Soc. Wash. 36: 55-59.

Sabrosky, C. W. 1956. Entomological societies. Bull. Entomol. Soc. Amer. 2: 1-22.

-- 1964. Taxonomic entomology in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Idem. 10: 211-220.
Trichoptera: Phryganeidae: Ptilostomus sp. Trichoptera: Phryganeidae:
Ptilostomus sp.

Photo credit: Arthur V. Evans

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