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Finding Aids to Personal Papers and Special Collections in the Smithsonian Institution Archives

Record Unit 7236

McElvare, Rowland Robbins, 1893-1976

Rowland Robbins McElvare Papers, 1936-1967

Repository: Smithsonian Institution Archives, Washington, D.C. Contact us at osiaref@si.edu.
Creator: McElvare, Rowland Robbins, 1893-1976
Title: Rowland Robbins McElvare Papers
Dates: 1936-1967
Quantity: 1.5 cu. ft. (1 record storage box) (1 document box)
Collection: Record Unit 7236
Language of Materials: English
Summary:

This collection documents McElvare's activities in the field of lepidopterology. Of principal interest is the correspondence between McElvare and numerous amateur and professional lepidopterists, both in this country and abroad. These letters deal predominantly with insect collection and exchange, as well as the sharing of information on Heliothiinae and lepidopterology in general. McElvare took extensive notes on the species of Heliothiinae, drawn from personal examination of his collection, as well as his study of institutional collections throughout North America. These, and the transcripts of original descriptions of type insects found in classic works of lepidopterology, comprise the bulk of the remainder of the collection.

Historical Note

Rowland Robbins McElvare (1893-1976), an amateur lepidopterist, was born in Brooklyn, New York. He graduated from Columbia College in 1913, and, after taking advanced degrees at Columbia University and Harvard, entered the banking profession in 1917. Two years later he married Lillian Adele Waring, with whom he spent the rest of his life. McElvare became prominent in the field of banking and finance, eventually rising to the position of Director of the Public National Bank and Trust Company of New York, as well as serving as President of the Savings and Loan Division of the American Banking Association. He was also a member of the faculty of the Graduate School of Banking.

McElvare's interest in lepidopterology had its beginnings early in his life under the guidance of George P. Englehardt of the Brooklyn Museum. In the mid-1930s, McElvare decided to focus his attention on the noctuid subfamily Heliothiinae, a day-flying moth, principally found in the Southwest, which hitherto had attracted little scholarly interest. He began compiling information on this variety of insect, a difficult task due to the lack of material. Few institutions held useful collections of Heliothiinae, and extensive field work was still needed to obtain complete specimen collections, as well as gathering data on the life cycle of Heliothids. McElvare, in the course of his studies, which were conducted after business hours until his retirement in 1953, assembled one of the most comprehensive collections of Heliothiinae extant, and in addition supplied type and paratype specimens to the United States National Museum and the British Museum (Natural History). During the period most heavily represented in this collection, 1940-1960, Rowland Robbins McElvare was the foremost American authority on Heliothiinae.

McElvare published numerous journal articles on his work, including several describing new species of Heliothiinae and on the synonymy of a species hitherto thought valid. The majority of his publications appeared in the Journal of the Brooklyn Entomological Society, of which he was President from 1945 to 1947.

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Descriptive Entry

This collection documents McElvare's activities in the field of lepidopterology. Of principal interest is the correspondence between McElvare and numerous amateur and professional lepidopterists, both in this country and abroad. These letters deal predominantly with insect collection and exchange, as well as the sharing of information on Heliothiinae and lepidopterology in general. McElvare took extensive notes on the species of Heliothiinae, drawn from personal examination of his collection, as well as his study of institutional collections throughout North America. These, and the transcripts of original descriptions of type insects found in classic works of lepidopterology, comprise the bulk of the remainder of the collection.

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Preferred Citation

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7236, Rowland Robbins McElvare Papers

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Container List

Series 1

CORRESPONDENCE, 1936-1967. ARRANGED ALPHABETICALLY.

This series consists of McElvare's correspondence with amateur and professional lepidopterists. Much has to do with the exchange of specimens and the collection conditions in various parts of the country.

Box 1

Folder 1 A-B

Box 1 of 2

Folder 2 American Museum of Natural History. Includes correspondence with Freder H. Rindge and Charles Michener.

Box 1 of 2

Folder 3 Henry Bird, 1936-1957

Box 1 of 2

Folder 4 A. Blanchard, 1963-1966

Box 1 of 2

Folder 5 Botanists. Correspondence with botanists pertaining to the identification of plants associated with Heliothiinae

Box 1 of 2

Folder 6 Louis H. Bridwell, 1940-1952

Box 1 of 2

Folder 7 C-E

Box 1 of 2

Folder 8 John Cadbury, 1940-1951. Includes correspondence with E. T. Cresson during Cadbury's wartime absence.

Box 1 of 2

Folder 9 John Frederick Gates Clarke, 1936-1952, 1961-1967. For additional correspondence see Box 1, Folder 38, and Box 2, Folder 3.

Box 1 of 2

Folder 10 John A. Comstock, 1936-1961

Box 1 of 2

Folder 11 William C. Cook, 1937-1950

Box 1 of 2

Folder 12 William H. Evans, 1949-1961

Box 1 of 2

Folder 13 F-G

Box 1 of 2

Folder 14 Richard J. Fitch, 1942-1951

Box 1 of 2

Folder 15 D. S. Fletcher of the British Museum, 1952-1961

Box 1 of 2

Folder 16 William T. H. Forbes, 1944-1956

Box 1 of 2

Folder 17 John G. Franclemont, 1942-1963

Box 1 of 2

Folder 18 H. Avery Freeman, 1942-1947

Box 1 of 2

Folder 19 Stanley V. Fuller, 1955-1962

Box 1 of 2

Folder 20 Edward Guedet, 1936-1940, 1946-1951, 1957

Box 1 of 2

Folder 21 H-K

Box 1 of 2

Folder 22 David F. Hardwick. For more correspondence on relations between Hardwick and McElvare see Box 1, Folder 38.

Box 1 of 2

Folder 23 Theodore W. Hower, 1937-1954

Box 1 of 2

Folder 24 Charles P. Kimball, 1953-1963

Box 1 of 2

Folder 25 George F. Knowlton, 1937-1938

Box 1 of 2

Folder 26 Louise Knoebel, 1936-1937

Box 1 of 2

Folder 27 L-R

Box 1 of 2

Folder 28 Roy Latham, 1936-1956, 1966

Box 1 of 2

Folder 29 James Halliday McDunnough, 1937-1954, 1961

Box 1 of 2

Folder 30 Lloyd M. Martin, 1949-1952, 1957

Box 1 of 2

Folder 31 William P. Medlar, 1941-1953

Box 1 of 2

Folder 32 National Park Service, 1936-1940

Box 1 of 2

Folder 33 North Carolina Department of Agriculture, Division of Entomology, 1941-1953. Predominantly the correspondence of D. L. Wray.

Box 1 of 2

Folder 34 William Proctor, 1938-1950

Box 1 of 2

Folder 35 Edward P. Ross, 1941-1952

Box 1 of 2

Folder 36 S-Z

Box 1 of 2

Folder 37 John A. Sperry, 1937-1952

Box 1 of 2

Folder 38 United States National Museum, 1937-1966. Includes correspondence with E. L. Todd, Carl Frederick William Muesebeck, and Carl Heinrich.

Box 1 of 2

Folder 39 Edward P. Van Duzee, 1938

Box 1 of 2

Folder 40 Herbert H. Walkden, 1937-1942

Box 1 of 2

Folder 41 Alex K. Wyatt, 1937-1957

Box 1 of 2

Series 2

NOTES ON HELIOTHIINAE.

This series consists of various compilations of data on the close to 300 species of Heliothiinae. The notes fall into two groups. The first consists of notes on type and distribution data, as well as notes from the literature. These are arranged by McDunnough number, a system of classification drawn from James McDunnough's Check List of the Lepidoptera of Canada and the United States, Vol. 1, p. 103 (California, 1938-1939). The second group consists of the contents of two smaller looseleaf binders, and is composed of data, both observed and reported, on the habits of Heliothids. Most of this material is arranged by McDunnough number as well, but supplementing observations on such matters as classification, food plants and locality records form an additional folder. Finally, the last two folders contain other material, as described.

Box 1

Folders 42-48 contain the contents of the formal notebooks Heliolonche Grt. - Meliclepteria honesta Grt.

Box 1 of 2

Folder 42 McDunnough Numbers 2892-2915. A copy of the McDunnough Check List will be found at the beginning of each folder.

Box 1 of 2

Folder 43 Melaporphyria immortua Grt. - Heliothis honesta Grt. McDunnough Numbers 2916-2933.

Box 1 of 2

Folder 44 Canthylidia scutosa Schiff. - Bessula luxa Grt. McDunnough Numbers 2934-2955.

Box 1 of 2

Folder 45 Schina cumatilis Grt. - Schina alensa Sm. McDunnough Numbers 2956-2994.

Box 1 of 2

Folder 46 Schina unimacula Sm. - Schinaia limbalis Grt. McDunnough Numbers 2995-3040.

Box 1 of 2

Folder 47 Trichosellus cupes Grt. - Neogrotella macdunnoughi B. & B. McDunnough Numbers 3041-3059.

Box 1 of 2

Folder 48 Neotropical Heliothids and Allied Genera

Box 1 of 2

Folder 49 Handwritten notes on Heliothids, arranged by McDunnough number

Box 1 of 2

Folder 50 General observations on the habits of Heliothiinae

Box 1 of 2

Box 2

Folder 1 Tabulations of the Heliothiinae held by the United States National Museum as of 1937. 113 handwritten pages are arranged by the Barnes and McDunnough checklist; an earlier system than the one described above.

Box 2 of 2

Folder 2 Miscellany. Includes checklists, notes, Iowa Insect Survey Cards with notations, and a set of 3x5 cards of the species of Heliothiinae, in McDunnough number order, with penciled-in geographic locations, perhaps indicating where specimens were collected.

Box 2 of 2

Series 3

PUBLICATIONS, 1938-1966. ARRANGED ALPHABETICALLY.

This series consists of copies of typewritten drafts, some showing signs of revision, and reprints of the journal articles authored by McElvare. When possible, a published copy of the article has been clipped to the typed drafts.

Box 2

Folder 3 Drafts of journal articles. Additional correspondence with J.F. Gates Clarke on the revision of "Validity of the Species Heliothis sublexa (GN) Lepidoptera" will be found in Box 1, Folder 9; and correspondence with John Hansen on the revision of "New Heliothid Moth from Central Florida (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae)" will be found in Box 1, Folder 21.

Box 2 of 2

Folder 4 Reprints of published material, 1938-1966

Box 2 of 2

Series 4

PHOTOGRAPHS.

Box 2

Folder 5 Photographs of various Heliothids. Some were used as illustrations for journal articles and are identified, but the majority are not. Includes three photographs of people, only one of which, that of Dr. John A. Comstock, is identified.

Box 2 of 2