National Collection of Insects Transferred

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Under the supervision of Professor Charles Valentine Riley, the national collection of insects is transferred to the Smithsonian Institution from the United States Department of Agriculture. Lack of a permanent museum organization at the Department of Agriculture had proved very unfavorably for the collection. Secretary Spencer F. Baird reports that in 1881, Riley had accepted the position of honorary curator, and started to perform voluntarily the duties connected with this division of the museum. Riley also deposited his own private collection of insects, which comprises about 30,000 species of all orders, mostly from North America, as well as other materials illustrating the life, history, and economy of more than 3,000 species. The remnants of the national collection are of very slight importance; the Riley collection represents all that is valuable in the department.


  • Baird, Spencer Fullerton 1823-1887
  • Riley, Charles V (Charles Valentine) 1843-1895
  • United States Dept. of Agriculture
  • United States National Museum


Chronology of Smithsonian History


Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for the year 1882. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1884, p. 142-143.

Contact information

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




  • Acquisitions
  • Entomology
  • Secretaries
  • Museums
  • Interagency Transfers
  • New Divisions
  • National Collections
  • Museums--Acquisitions

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