Celebrating Research

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The Entomological Archive, Special Collections Research Center

North Carolina State University Libraries

Collection Profile

The NCSU Libraries' Entomological Archive is a world-class research collection that began close to home. North Carolina State University faculty were not only the primary creators but also the initial patrons of this major collection of rare books, manuscripts, and drawings related to the study of entomology. Over several generations, donations of papers, research materials, significant personal libraries, and funds have contributed to this unique resource.

The archive originated with Zeno Payne Metcalf, professor of entomology and zoology at NC State from 1912 to 1950. Dr. Metcalf devoted his life to the study of Homoptera, a group of insects now known as Auchenorrhyncha. He amassed a collection that contained virtually every word published on Homoptera from 1771 through 1955. Metcalf worked on an index to his collection, the extraordinary 42-volume General Catalogue of the Homoptera of the World (1927–1971), until his death in early 1956. This crucial foundation for further research was completed by Metcalf's assistant, Virginia Wade Burnside, and Metcalf's successor, David A. Young. The Zeno P. Metcalf Entomology Research Collection contains this collection of some 1,150 rare books and 11,000 monographs, journals, and papers.

Additional important collections of faculty research materials include the Clyde F. Smith papers, an extension of the Metcalf collection primarily pertaining to the insect family Aphididae, with more than 1,400 papers, pamphlets, and books dating from 1758, and two bibliographies that serve as indexes to the papers. Also faculty-built is the Maurice Hugh Farrier Collection, a comprehensive compilation of publications on mites by scientists from all over the world.

Two additional collections were acquired with faculty collaboration. David A. Young, who helped finish Metcalf's magnum opus, alerted the libraries to the sale of the Friedrich F. Tippmann Collection. The personal library of a Viennese engineer and amateur entomologist, the Tippmann collection is comprised of 975 monographic titles and periodicals; it contains some of the rarest entomological works in the world, including Ulisse Aldrovandi's De animalibvs insectis libri septem cvm singvlorvm iconibvs ad viuum expressis (1602) and Charles De Geer's Mémoires pour servir à l'histoire des insectes (1752–1778). It also includes classics in the history of science such as the 10th edition of Carolus Linnaeus's Systema Naturae, the work that established the use of binomial taxonomy in zoology.

Two rare works by Eugène Alain Séguy, portfolios of prints called Papillons and Insectes, were added to the archive through joint fundraising between the NCSU Libraries and entomology faculty. Published in the 1920s, they portray butterflies, beetles, grasshoppers, and cicadas in gorgeous color, using the pochoir technique, which requires hand coloring each plate through stencils.

These collections are heavily used not only by students and faculty in the NCSU Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Design, and Veterinary Medicine, but also by researchers from around the world. Web access to the majority of this collection will soon be available, thanks to a grant from the National Science Foundation. The Séguy portfolios are available digitally and the libraries plan to digitize the majority of the Metcalf and Tippmann rare book collections—connecting the digital future of special collections with the impressive past of this collection.

Collection Profile and Overview: Greg Raschke and Monica McCormick
Illustrations: Lynn Ruck Photography, Raleigh, NC

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