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History of the Collection

The University of New Hampshire Insect Collection dates from 1891 when the two entomologists for the New Hampshire College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts, C. M. Weed and W. F. Fiske, collected around Hanover before the college moved to its present location in Durham in 1893.  In 1981 the collection was estimated to be about one million specimens from a story in the Manchester Union Leader, however a subsequent count in 1983-1984 brought that figure down to about 300,000 specimens. Since that time the collection has grown to nearly 700,000 specimens, making it the largest state university insect collection in New England, and third only to the 5 million specimens at Harvard University and 800,000+ at Yale University. ​

Regional and International Holdings

The collection has matured from being an excellent state collection (known only to those in the New England region), to being recognized nationally and internationally as one of the major faunal resources of the Northeastern region as evidenced by the number of international loans. The emphasis on intensive collections from state unique natural and old-growth areas, and more recently stream studies, has produced the depth and coverage of regional biodiversity that is simply not found or even approached in any other collection in the Northeast.

Notable specialist donations that have added to the strength of the UNH Insect Collection include:
The Alfred J. Kistler Collection of Coleoptera
The Donald J. Lennox Collection of Lepidoptera
The Wallace J. Morse Collection of Odonata
The R. Marcel Reeves Collection of Mites
Other major contributions include specimens gifted by S. Albert Shaw, and Lorus and Marjory Milne.

The charge to the curator has been to develop coverage for the collection for New Hampshire and New England, and to maintain the collection and make the material/collection data available in the context of research, teaching, and service to the state. Support has been indirectly provided via Hatch/McIntyre-Stennis Projects targeting the documentation of biodiversity in the state via comparison of old-growth and managed forests, targeting unique natural areas, and more recently the biodiversity of streams. While accumulation and identification of specimens is a critical part of these studies, the integration of the voucher specimens into the collection, and overall maintenance and curation of the collection has been judged to be peripheral to the research thrusts of these projects, and has been accomplished only through determination of the curator.