The Impossible Case of Harrison G. Dyar


Starting tomorrow through next week, we will be digging into the life of entomologist Harrison Gray Dyar (1866-1929). Dyar was honorary custodian of the Smithsonian's United States National Museum's collection of Lepidoptera (butterflies, moths, etc.) for more than thirty years. As a scientist, Dyar was noted for his work concerning mosquito-borne diseases. He also developed a new approach to taxonomy examining both larval and adult stages of insects that brought about major changes in the scientific community's understanding of insect systematics. [CORRECTION: it was  

His private life was no less exceptional. Dyar made a splash in Washington, D.C. newspapers for his scandalous personal life that involved maintaining two families in two different dwellings at the same time. He also had a strange habit of digging tunnels underground, one of which caused an alley to collapse in Dupont Circle.

Eucosma ragonoti barnesiana Dyar, 1903, Collected by Harrison G. Dyar, National Museum of Natural Hi

So stay tuned! Tomorrow we will launch five field books to the Transcription Center for which we need your help transcribing. Also, follow the Smithsonian Libraries' blog next week as author and entomologist, Marc E. Epstein Moths, Myths, and Mosquitoes: The Eccentric Life of Harrison G. Dyar, Jr., will share different facets of Dyar's life.  Also on May 17th at 2:30 p.m., join Epstein on a Google Hangout to get a behind-the-scenes look at some of the specimen Dyar collected, and hear more about his fascinating life.

Transcribe and Learn with Us!

Related Resources

Related Collections

Produced by the Smithsonian Institution Archives. For copyright questions, please see the Terms of Use.