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Scudder, Samuel Hubbard

SCUDDER, SAMUEL HUBBARD

(b. Boston, Massachusetts, 13 April 1837; d. Cambridge, Massachusetts, 17 May 1911)

systematic entomology.

Scudder was the son of Charles Scudder and Sarah Lathtop Coit, both of whom were Congregationalists. He attended Williams College (1853–1857) and studied with Louis Agassiz at Harvard (1857–1864).

Scudder held various positions in Cambridge and Boston and was instrumental in founding the Cambridge Entomological Club and Psyche in 1874l. Between 1858 and 1902 he published 791 papers. His noteworthy works include Catalogue of Scientific Serials of All Countries... 1633–1876 (1879); Nomenclator zoologicus, 2 pts. (1882–1884), a list of the generic names proposed in zoology; and the three-volume Butterflies of the Eastern United States and Canada (1888–1889).

Scudder’s main contributions were in the study of Orthoptera-of which he described 630 species—and fossil insects. He named about 1,144 species of fossil insects, mostly while employed as paleontologist in the United States Geological Survey between 1886 and 1892.

Scudder was one of the most learned and productive American systematic entomologists of his day. As recently as 1920 Willis Stanley Blatchley said that “to him more than to all his predecessors and contemporaries combined is due our present knowledge of the Orthoptera.” Scudder drew whatever taxonomic and evolutionary conclusions his data indicated, although new methods, especially studies of genitalia, and more extensive series of specimens, have required the modification of some of his conclusions. It is also doubtful whether fossils like the Coleoptera, which he studied, can always be named with as much taxonomic precision and be integrated as precisely with living species as Scudder held that they could. The beetles, for instance, do not exhibit the characters on which contemporary classification depends. To date no one has attempted either to continue or to revise Scudder’s work on fossil beetles, at least in anything like Scudder’s detail.

Scudder’s personal life was unfortunate. In 1867 he married Ethelinda Jane Blatchford, who died in 1872. Their son died at the age of twenty-seven in 1896, the same year that Scudder began to show signs of Parkinson’s disease. Realistic about his prospects, Scudder ended his work in 1902. He transferred his personal collection to the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard College and his library to the Boston Society of Natural History and to Williams College. He died in 1911 after years of seclusion and invalidism.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

On Scudder and his work, see J. S. Kingsley, William L. W. Field, T. D. A. Cockerell, and Albert P. Morse, “Appraisals of Scudder as a Naturalist,” in Psyche, 18 (1911), 174–192, with portrait; and Alfred Goldsborough Mayor, “Samuel Hubbard Scudder 1837–1911,” in Biographical Memoirs. National Academy of Sciences, 17 (1919), 79–104, with portrait and bibliography of 791 titles.

Melville H. Hatch

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Scudder, Samuel Hubbard

Samuel Hubbard Scudder, 1837–1911, American entomologist, b. Boston, grad. Williams (B.A., 1857) and Harvard (B.S., 1862). The founder of American insect paleontology and an authority on Orthoptera and Lepidoptera, he was assistant to Louis Agassiz (1862–64), custodian of the Boston Society of Natural History (1864–70), assistant librarian of Harvard (1879–82), and paleontologist of the U.S. Geological Survey (1886–92). His works include A Century of Orthoptera (1879), Butterflies: Their Structure, Changes, and Life-Histories (1881), and Fossil Insects of North America (1890).

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"Scudder, Samuel Hubbard." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/scudder-samuel-hubbard