Name and location of repository
Level of description
J.M. Aldrich Diaries
- 1885-1888 (Accumulation)
0.21 linear feet (1 small document case)
Name of creator
J. M. (John Merton) Aldrich was born on January 28, 1866, in Olmstead County, Minnesota, the son of Levi O. and Mary Moore Aldrich. He was educated in the county and high schools of Rochester, Minnesota. In 1885, he entered Dakota Agricultural College at Brookings, South Dakota. He received his B.S. degree in the first formal commencement exercises of Dakota Agricultural College in 1888 and was the first graduate who specialized in zoological sciences. He later received B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Kansas and a Ph. D. from Stanford University.
Following graduation from Dakota Agricultural College in 1888, Aldrich was employed as an assistant in entomology at the college between 1889-1890 and an Assistant in Zoology from 1890-1892. During this time, he was also Assistant to the Agricultural Experiment Station Entomologist. From 1893 to 1913, he was Professor of Zoology at the University of Idaho. While at the University of Idaho, Aldrich began work on his Catalog of North American Diptera. In 1906, he took sabbatical leave to receive a Ph. D. from Stanford University, where his Catalog was accepted as his thesis.
In 1913, after his association with the University of Idaho was terminated, he was then appointed as Entomological Assistant in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Bureau of Entomology at West Lafayette, Indiana. Five years later, he was transferred to the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. In 1919, he became Custodian of the Diptera (two-winged insects) and Associate Curator of the museum in its division of insects. Aldrich was the first Dipterist employed by the Smithsonian Institution who had been previously employed by the USDA.
Aldrich was known for his unusual success in obtaining rare specimens of insect life in various sections of the western hemisphere, including the western United States, Alaska, and Guatemala. Many of the insects he captured were previously unknown to science. Because of his extensive knowledge of North American Diptera fauna, his eminence made the National Museum the center for studies on New World Diptera. In 1923, Aldrich turned over his specimen collection of more than 45,000 insects, with more than 4,000 classifications.
In addition, he donated to the museum a card catalog file of North American literature on these specimens. This collection is among the most important general Diptera collection in the National Museum. In addition to his work at the National Museum, Aldrich wrote extensively on subjects of insect life. He was also President of the Entomological Society of America (1921) and received many honors and awards.
Aldrich died in 1934 but is still honored today by the existence of the Aldrich Entomology Club, which was formed in 1961 at the University of Idaho. This club provides a forum for student, faculty, and other interested persons to share their enthusiasm for insect biology.
Content and structure elements
Scope and content
This collection is composed of three diaries of J.M Aldrich during his tenure as a student at Dakota Agricultural College from 1885-1888. The diaries give an invaluable account on life as a student during the early years of the college.
The diaries are separated into three volumes, one for each year Aldrich was a student at the college. Between 1930 and 1932, Aldrich made typewritten transcripts copied from his original diaries and included parenthetical comments for clarification. Each daily entry states the day and date, which are underlined, and relate Aldrich's daily activities. Most of the entries are trivial, recounting the activity of each day, but give an excellent portrayal of the atmosphere of Dakota Territory life in the 1880's. Topics included in the diaries range from accounts of his journeys between his home in Minnesota to Brookings to administrative upsets such as President George Lilley losing his position to Lewis McLouth.
System of arrangement
Conditions of access and use elements
Conditions governing access
This collection is open to researchers without restrictions. The materials in the Archives do not circulate and may be used in-house only.
Researchers conducting extensive research are asked to make an advance appointment to access archival material. Please call or e-mail prior to visiting the collection and indicate as much detail as possible about a particular topic and intended use.
Access to the original copies is restricted due to their condition.
Conditions governing reproduction
South Dakota State University supports access to the materials, published and unpublished, in its collections. Nonetheless, access to some items may be restricted as a result of their fragile condition or by contractual agreements with donors.
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Scripts of the material
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Immediate source of acquisition
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Related materials elements
Existence and location of originals
Existence and location of copies
Related archival materials
Digital copies are available for viewing on the Digital Library of South Dakota
The John Merton Aldrich Papers are held at the Smithsonian Institution Archives. This collection consists of correspondence between Aldrich and other dipterists and includes considerable correspondence with Leland Ossian Howard and Charles Henry Tyler Townsend.
A catalogue of North American Diptera (or two-winged flies) by J.M. Aldrich
Call Number: SI 1.7:46/1
Publication Date: 1905
The Cut-worm by I.M. Orcutt and J.M. Aldrich
Call Number: 630.7 So87.12 no.18
Publication Date: 1890
Injurious insects by I.M. Orcutt and J.M. Aldrich
Call Number: 630.7 So87.12 no.22
Publication Date: 1889-1891
Report of the Department of Entomology by I.M. Orcutt and J.M. Aldrich
Call Number: 630.7 So87.12 no.30
Publication Date: 1892
Sarcophaga and allies in North America by J.M. Aldrich
Call Number: AL535.1 A4s
Publication Date: 1916
Description control element
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Subject access points
Place access points
Name access points
- Aldrich, John Merton, 1866-1934 (Subject)
Genre access points
Digital object metadata