John Henry Comstock

John Henry Comstock (1849-1931) was an eminent researcher in entomology and a leading educator. His work provided the basis for classification of butterflies, moths, and scale insects.

Early life and education

Comstock was born on February 24, 1849 in Janesville, Wisconsin. He studied at Cornell University, graduating in 1874. He also studied at Yale University and the University of Leipzig. In 1878 he married Anna Botsford. She was a wood engraver who beautifully illustrated many of his articles. Comstock became a professor of Nature Studies at Cornell.


Comstock worked as an instructor at Cornell until 1879. He worked at Vassar College from 1877 to 1879. Between 1879 and 1881 he became the chief Entomologist of the USDA in Washington, D.C. In 1882 he became professor of Entomology and Invertebrate Zoology at Cornell. He also did work in insect morphology and is best known as the co-proposer of the Comstock-Needham system with James George Needham.

Comstock, through his own work and that of his students, had a significant influence in the development of entomology departments throughout the United States.

He died on March 20, 1931.

The John Henry Comstock Award

The Entomological Society of America gives out an award in each of its five branches to the outstanding graduate student of the year. This award is the John Henry Comstock Graduate Student Award.


Comstock published many articles including:
* "A Manual for the study of insects" (1930) illustrated by Anna Botsford Comstock.
* "The Spider book: a manual for the study of the spiders and near relatives" (1913).
* "Notes on Entomology" (Ithaca, 1875).
* "Annual Reports of Entomologist" (Washington, 1879-1881).
* "Report on Cotton Insects" (1879).
* "Second Annual Report of the Department of Entomology of Cornell University," including a monograph on "Diaspinae" (Ithaca, 1883).
* an article on "Hymenoptera" in the "Standard Natural History" (Boston, 1884).

About Henry and Anna:
* "Anna Botsford Comstock," "John Henry Comstock," "Harrison Gray Dyar," "Mary Jane Rathbun," and "Robert Edwards Carter Stearns." In: "American National Biography". New York: (Oxford University Press, 1999).

External links

* [ The John Henry Comstock Graduate Student Award]
* [ List of winners of the Comstock Award]
* [ The correspondence of John Henry and Anna Botsford Comstock in the Cornell Library]
* [;pkey=Comstock%2C%20J.%20H.;offset=1000 Correspondence with Charles Darwin]
* [;pkey=12621 Letter to Darwin]
* [ Cover of "A Manual ..." with an engraving by Anna Botsford Comstock]
* [ Article mentioning John and Anna as early married professors]
* [ Introduction to Entomology (1908)]

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