John Merton Aldrich

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John Merton Aldrich
John Merton Aldrich
Born (1866-01-28)January 28, 1866[1]
Minnesota, United States
Died May 27, 1934(1934-05-27) (aged 68)
Nationality American
Scientific career
Fields entomologist

John Merton Aldrich (January 28, 1866 – May 27, 1934) was an American zoologist and entomologist. Aldrich was the Associate Curator of Insects at the United States National Museum. He is considered one of the most prolific entomologists in the study of flies.[1]

Life and education[edit]

John Merton Aldrich was born in Olmsted County, Minnesota. He went to school in Rochester in that state.[1] In 1888, he graduated from South Dakota State University in Brookings, South Dakota.,[1][2] after which he briefly worked at the South Dakota State Agricultural Experiment Station.[2] From 1888 until 1890 he attended Michigan State College, before getting his M.S. from South Dakota State University.[1] In 1891 he became the first zoology professor at the University of Idaho.[2][3] In 1892 he entered the University of Kansas where he obtained a second M.S. in 1893.[1] After his return to Idaho, he married Ellen Roe, with whom he lived in Moscow. After four years of marriage, his wife and their infant son died.[1] In 1905 he remarried, to Della Smith in Moscow.

Aldrich stored his collection and library at his father's house in Moscow.

He moved to California to attend Stanford University. The following year he obtained his Ph.D. and returned to Idaho. After almost twenty years as professor at the University of Idaho, he lost his job.[1]


In 1913, he became Entomological Assistant at the Bureau of Entomology.[2][4][5] As Assistant, he worked in the Cereal and Forage Crop Insects Section, based in Lafayette,[1] Indiana.[2] Aldrich became the Associate Curator of Insects and the Custodian of Diptera at the United States National Museum, where he replaced Frederick Knab, after his death in 1918.[1][2] He donated his personal collection of diptera to the museum in 1928. In total, he donated 45,000 specimens and 4,000 named species, along with the documenting card catalog, which, as of 1934, was the only documentation related to American flies in the world.[1]


Aldrich's early research work involved the study of economic entomology and its different phases. While teaching at the University of Idaho, he started working on his book about American flies.[2] While in Indiana, he studied the lives of grass flies, and other flies, that were involved in cereal crop destruction. In his research, he traveled to Utah, California, Alaska, Guatemala, and Sweden. He was an active member of the Entomological Society of America, serving as president and secretary-treasurer, and also served as president of the Washington Entomological Society.[1]

Later life[edit]

Aldrich was active in the All Souls Unitarian-Universalist Church in Washington, D.C., where he taught religion classes. He co-founded the Thomas Say Foundation.[1] He served as curator and custodian at the United States National Museum until his death in 1934. His archival collections are held in the Smithsonian Institution Archives.[2] He died suddenly on May 27, 1934. Just before his death, he had plans for his bi-annual Pacific Coast collecting trip. He was buried in Moscow, Idaho.[1]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Melander, A.L. (1934). "John Merton Aldrich.". Psyche. 41: 133–149. doi:10.1155/1934/14725. Retrieved 13 April 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Aldrich, John Merton, 1866-1944, John Merton Aldrich Papers". Record Unit 7305. Smithsonian Institution Archives. Retrieved 13 April 2012. 
  3. ^ American Entomological Society (1900). The entomologists ̓directory: containing the names, addresses, special departments of study, etc., of those interested in the study of insect life in the United States and Canada. American Entomological Society. p. 64. Retrieved 13 April 2012. 
  4. ^ I. M. Orcutt; John Merton Aldrich (1892). Report of the Department of Entomology. South Dakota Agricultural College and Experiment Station. p. 2. Retrieved 13 April 2012. 
  5. ^ Economic entomology: Pamphlets. 1915. p. 332. Retrieved 13 April 2012. 

External links[edit]