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John Franclemont: Butterfly Soul

Who is John Franclemont? Born the day the Titanic died, this emeritus professor of Entomology constructed an insect collection comprised of 350,000 moths which he sampled from previously overlooked locations including Arizona. Interestingly, this collection, according to the Cornell Entomology department, congregates numerous obscure species from poorly comprehended species compounds. Franclemont also aggregated a vast book collection constituting works from eighteenth century entomologists such as Fabricius, Hübner and Latreille; texts from New South Wales during Australia’s early establishment; a discourse from Japan whose prints comprise actual butterfly wings; and early editions of Linnaeus’s scientific work.

Franclemont also contributed to the scientific world through specimen he collected throughout Asia, the Solomon Islands and the Philippines, during his service in the U.S. Army as a mosquito eradication specialist in World War II. However, overall, his research interests surround lepidoptery and insect taxonomy.

Pedagogically, he believed in consistently making himself available to students at anytime. Unsurprisingly, six of his students served as curators at the U.S. National Museum of Natural History.  Yet, he did not limit his academic acheivements to the instructional by serving as an entomologist for the Smithsonian and a past president of the Lepidopterists' society.

Upon his unfortunate death in May 2004, he donated both of his collections to the Cornell University Insect Collection. While the CUIC continues to mourn his absence, his book collection remains on display at Mann Library and his academic aggregation greatly contributed to the CUIC's North American macrolepidoptera collection.

James Leibherr, CUIC Curator
Cornell Chronicle.
Cornell Entomology.
Mann Library.