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Insect Division History

Original Museum Building (1918)

The Museum of Zoology was formally recognized as a separate unit of the University in 1913 and organized into divisions with separate curators. The present museums building was constructed in 1927. During the first third of this century, the insect collection grew extensively as the result of the combined efforts of the curators, graduate and undergraduate students and especially through the efforts of unsalaried museum associates and "honorary curators." These latter individuals were members of the Detroit Club as well as the Detroit Naturalist's Club, an association of businessmen and professionals united by an interest in natural history, taxonomy, and collections. Many of the members were entomologists by avocation who published numerous scientific papers and were major authorities on their chosen groups of insects. These avocational and professional entomologists later became the nucleus for the Michigan Entomological Society.

Workers laying the foundation for the new museums building. (1929)

Individuals largely responsible for this early growth of the insect collections included curator and later museum director F.M. Gaige (Ants), students T.H. Hubbell (Orthoptera), R.F. Hussey (Hemiptera) and M.H. Hatch (Coleoptera), and honorary curators E.B. Williamson (Odonata), A.W. Andrews (Coleoptera), W.W. Newcomb and Sherman Moore (Lepidoptera), and J.S. Rogers (Diptera). That marked the early days of the museum, and the original building near South State is shown (right) as it appeared around 1918.

In 1929, the current Museums building was opened with great fanfare, and an improved facility was greatly appreciated by staff and curators. The period of 1929-1959 saw our collections grow at an astonishing rate due in part, to major acquisitions such as the E.B. Williamson Odonata Collection, The C.H. Kennedy Odonata Collection, and the major collectig trip taken by the various curators. T.H. Hubbell and Irving Cantrall collected enormous numbers of Orthoptera and other insects during these forays. The museum actively purchased some small but significant collections. For example, The Edwin Eddy Calder (1853-1929) Collection was acquired and transported by T.H. Hubbell from Rhode Island to the UMMZ. That particular collection contained important tiger beetle specimens from New England as well as world-wide representation of a popular group of Coleoptera.

A.G. Ruthven, Bryant Walker, F.M. Gaige, Calvin Goodrich

Numerous expeditions conducted during this period obtained large collections from Mexico, South America, the western and southeastern United States, as well as from all over the Great Lakes region. Additional collections were obtained through gifts or exchanges which added to the Insect Division's depth in Southeast Asian material and broadened the general scope of the collection to include substantial collections of Palaearctic and African specimens as well. In the 1930's and 1940's, specimen acquisition concentrated on the Great Lakes fauna. However, several expeditions to the southwestern United States and Mexico also incorporated large collections, especially of Orthoptera and Odonata.