John Henry Comstock

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Henry John (later John Henry) Comstock, 1859-1923, was a professor of entomology at Cornell University. His wife, Anna Botsford Comstock was a professor of nature studies and a wood engraver specializing in scientific illustration. Comstock enrolled in Cornell University in 1869, one year after it opened, working his way through school as a bricklayer, lab assistant, and chimes master. Encouraged by his professor, Burt Green Wilder, he developed such expertise in entomology that he was asked to teach a course in that subject while still an undergraduate. During the summer of 1872 Comstock pursued advanced studies in entomology at Harvard University under Hermann August Hagen. He was appointed instructor in entomology at Cornell in 1873, beginning a forty-year tenure. In 1879 Comstock was named U.S. Entomologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, replacing C. V. Riley. He outlined an ambitious plan for a national program in entomology, but he lacked the political skills to retain his appointment. In 1881 Riley in turn replaced Comstock as U.S. Entomologist, and Comstock returned to Cornell.


  • Comstock, Anna Botsford
  • Comstock, John Henry
  • Hagen, Hermann August 1817-1893
  • Riley, Charles V (Charles Valentine) 1843-1895
  • Wilder, Burt G (Burt Green) 1841-1925
  • Cornell University
  • Harvard University
  • United States Dept. of Agriculture
  • United States Dept. of Agriculture Bureau of Entomology


Historic Images of the Smithsonian

Contained within

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 95, Box 7, Folder 10

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,


c. 1890s

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  • Entomology
  • Entomologists
  • Educators
  • Teachers

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Physical description

Number of Images: 1; Color: Black and white; Size: 8w x 10h; Type of Image: Person; Medium: Photographic print

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