Submitted to: American Entomologist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 3, 2006
Publication Date: June 30, 2006
Citation: Wheeler, A.G., Miller, G.L. 2006. Simon Snyder Rathvon: Propagandist and Popularizer of Agricultural Entomology in Mid-Nineteenth Century America. American Entomologist. 52(1):36-47.
Interpretive Summary: The importance of destructive and beneficial insects has been realized since the early days of the founding of this country. Various pioneering entomologists have been identified but, one individual, Simon Snyder Rathvon (1812-1891), has been a largely overlooked figure from the early years. His entomological writings, especially through the popular press, served to educate and inform the public about insects. However, his contributions to the scientific community were also noteworthy in the fields of insect identification, biology, agriculture, and biological control. This paper highlights his life as both an entomologist and individual.
Until now, Simon Snyder Rathvon’s (1812-1891), contributions to entomology have been overshadowed by other workers in his day. However, Rathvon’s entomological writings (perhaps numbering in the hundreds) in the popular press and agricultural journals contributed much to dispelling myths and misinformation about insects. Regarded highly enough to write the Bureau of Agriculture U.S. Agricultural Reports for 1861 and 1862, Rathvon in effect, filled the position of United States Entomologist temporarily vacated by Townend Glover. His insect collection, writings on insect taxonomy, systematics, and biology, and agriculture were substantial for their day. Rathvon’s professionalism and knowledge about insects help set the standard for modern entomology. This research paper identifies and illustrates his contributions.