Finding Aids to Personal Papers and Special Collections in the Smithsonian Institution Archives
Record Unit 7309
Systematic Entomology Laboratory
General Correspondence, 1910-1973
The Systematic Entomology Laboratory (SEL), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), is responsible for the identification of insect specimens. Its work provides basic support for biological control projects, environmental studies, and research activities of federal and state agencies and other organizations. SEL scientists are also active in research focused upon insect groups of economic importance to American agriculture. SEL maintains offices and laboratories at the National Museum of Natural History and at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, Beltsville, Maryland.
Taxonomic work in entomology at the USDA was given separate status in 1925 with the creation of the Division of Taxonomic Investigation. Sievert Allen Rohwer was placed in charge of the Division. Prior to 1925 taxonomic work was performed by the Entomologist of the USDA, his staff, or outside specialists. During its sixty-one year history, the section responsible for entomological taxonomy at the USDA has undergone numerous administrative reorganizations and name changes. Over most of those years it has had four titles: Division of Taxonomic Investigation, 1925-1934; Division of Insect Identification, 1934-1952; Insect Identification and Parasite Introduction Research Branch, 1959-1972; and Systematic Entomology Laboratory, 1972- . The period 1952 to 1959 witnessed several name changes. USDA entomologists in charge of taxonomic work have included Rohwer, 1925-1927; Harold Morrison, 1927-1935; Carl Frederick William Muesebeck, 1935-1954; Paul W. Oman, 1954-1960; William H. Anderson, 1960-1966; Reese I. Sailor, 1967-1972; and Richard H. Foote, 1972-1976.
This collection contains the official correspondence of the Systematic Entomology Laboratory, USDA, and its predecessors, 1925 to 1973. The correspondence, which is both incoming and outgoing, mostly concerns the identification of specimens sent to the USDA for determination. Smaller amounts of correspondence document research projects of USDA taxonomists; the preparation of scientific publications; field work; and professional activities. Correspondents include domestic and foreign entomologists, government scientists, university professors, and USDA staff. Outgoing correspondence is usually signed by the USDA Entomologist in charge of the Division. Correspondence pre-dating 1925 primarily documents the professional career of Sievert Allen Rohwer and includes letters relating to his duties as Custodian of Hymenoptera, United States National Museum.
The correspondence is arranged alphabetically by correspondent.
This collection is indexed under the following access terms. These are links to collections with related topics, persons or places.
- Rohwer, Sievert Allen
- Morrison, Harold
- Muesebeck, Carl F. W. (Carl Frederick William), 1894-
- Oman, Paul
- Anderson, William Henry, 1908-
- Sailer, R. I. (Reece Ivan), 1915-
- Foote, Richard H. (Richard Herbert), 1918-
- United States. Department of Agriculture
- United States National Museum. Division of Insects
- Beltsville Agricultural Research Center
- United States. Department of Agriculture. Division of Insect Identification
- United States. Department of Agriculture. Insect Identification and Parasite Introduction Research Branch
- National Museum of Natural History (U.S.)
Physical Characteristics of Materials in the Collection
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7309, General Correspondence