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Finding Aids to Official Records of the Smithsonian Institution Archives

Record Unit 139

United States National Museum. Division of Insects

Correspondence and Specimen Records, 1882-1918

Repository: Smithsonian Institution Archives, Washington, D.C. Contact us at
Creator: United States National Museum. Division of Insects
Title: Correspondence and Specimen Records
Dates: 1882-1918
Quantity: 2.5 cu. ft. (5 document boxes)
Collection: Record Unit 139
Language of Materials: English

These records include receipts for specimens; annual and monthly reports of the Division; and correspondence regarding acquisition, distribution, and loan of specimens.

Historical Note

The Division of Insects of the United States National Museum, reorganized in 1963 as the Department of Entomology, had its origin in the deposit of personal collections in 1881 by Charles Valentine Riley, entomologist of the Department of Agriculture. The Museum became the depository for the national collection of insects. The chief entomologist of the Department of Agriculture became honorary curator of insects in the national museum, aided by an assistant curator on the museum staff. Many staff members of the Department of Agriculture served as custodians, and thus the national collection of insects has become a joint enterprise of the Department and the Museum. Honorary curators were as follows: Charles Valentine Riley, 1881-1894; Leland Ossian Howard, 1895-1927. Assistant curators (museum employees) were as follows: John Bernhard Smith, 1886-1889; Martin L. Linell (aid), 1889-1896; William Harris Ashmead, 1897-1908; James Chamberlain Crawford, Assistant and Associate Curator, 1908-1919.

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Descriptive Entry

These records include receipts for specimens, annual and monthly reports of the Division, and correspondence regarding acquisition, distribution, and loan of specimens.

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Preferred Citation

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 139, United States National Museum. Division of Insects, Correspondence and Specimen Records

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Container List

Series 1

Outgoing Correspondence, 1882-1905

Outgoing Correspondence (1882-1905) includes receipts for specimens, first to Spencer F. Baird from Charles Valentine Riley and later from an assistant to the Museum's registrar; annual and monthly reports of the Division of Insects, including accession lists; correspondence from the Division regarding collection, distribution, and determination of specimens; and occasional extensive reports by curators regarding the status of the national collection. The outgoing correspondence series is mostly useful for documenting the growth of the Museum's insect collections, but it is also more generally useful for the history of entomology, especially in the correspondence of Riley, Leland Ossian Howard, and William Harris Ashmeade.

Box 1

Correspondence, May 3, 1882-March 12, 1889

Box 1 of 5

Box 2

Correspondence, March 14, 1889-December 19, 1894

Box 2 of 5

Box 3

Correspondence, December 19, 1894-December 10, 1900

Box 3 of 5

Box 4

Correspondence, 1900-1905

Box 4 of 5

Series 2

Requisitions, 1901-1914

Box 4

Requisitions (3 volumes)

Box 4 of 5

Box 5

Requisitions (1 volume)

Box 5 of 5

Series 3

Invoices of Specimens, 1900-1907, 1914-1918

Box 5

Invoices (2 volumes)

Box 5 of 5