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The Modern Era (1912–1954)

On October 1, 1912 Dr. Thomas J. Headlee became professor of entomology in the College of Agriculture, entomologist of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, and entomologist of the New Jersey State Board of Agriculture. Although the position of state entomologist was abolished July 1, 1933, Dr. Headlee continued in the other two posts until, upon his retirement on December 31, 1943, he was succeeded by Dr. Bailey B. Pepper, the present department head.

Since 1912, great progress has been made toward winning the battle against insects. At first a few insecticides such as arsenicals, nicotine, and oils were applied by rather simple equipment, but now, and particularly since World War II, many new insecticides have become available along with the development of a 'de array of application equipment. The general public is becoming more and more aware of insects and their damage. And, inevitably, as progress is made, the number of new problems to be solved multiplies. Research, teaching, and extension continues to be the three fold organization under which the Entomology Department conducts its constant war against insects.

Just before the death of Smith the Entomology Department moved to the building behind New Jersey Hall on Neilson Campus. Then, in 1930, when this building proved inadequate to the expanded work of the department, additional space was acquired in the basement of the Cook House, with the fellowship projects housed at 44 College Avenue. On June 20, 1938 expansion again moved the department to new quarters on the George's Road Campus. Here in 1938 and 1939 the Vivarium was developed in a double garage behind the main building, and in 1945 and 1946, a greenhouse was added. From time to time storage rooms, an insectary, an apiary shed, and dust-mixing shed were also added. Then, in the early '50s, the so-called Microbiology Laboratories on the George's Road campus were transferred to the Entomology Department. In spite of these improved facilities, however, adequate space for the work of a constantly expanding department remains one of its major needs.

The Entomology Department is particularly fortunate in having its own fine and growing library where pertinent books and journals are readily available to staff and students. Indispensable in terms of research and teaching, the number of volumes in this library has increased particularly rapidly during the last five years.

Ever since the days of Hulst and Smith, the insect museum has been a very valuable part of the department. Started by Hulst the collection idly expanded by Smith until by 1891, he had collected 33 cases of specimens. In 1892 Smith assembled an exhibit for the Chicago Exposition, and in 1902 with E. L. Dickerson, his assistant in state inspection work, he prepared several cases for the State Museum at Trenton. A special exhibit of mosquitoes at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition at St. Louis in 1904 won for the New Jersey Experiment Station a grand prize, and for Smith a gold medal. The famed Smith and Hulst collection of Lepidoptera, numbering about sixty-five thousand specimens consisted primarily of specimens of Noctuidae and Pyralidaca and was essentially a specialist's collection. In order that the 1,100 types and prototypes could be cared for by specialists, it was transferred in 1953 to the American Museum of Natural History. In return the department received a collection of Lepidoptera identified by present-day nomenclature.

In an effort to build up a good reference collection of immediate and practical use to the entomologist, an effort which has received particular emphasis during the last fifteen or twenty years, the Borner collection of Coleoptera, the George W. Barber collection, and the Comstock collection of the butterflies of New Jersey have been acquired. The collections of Tabanidae and bees have been greatly expanded through the efforts of Elton J. Hansens and Robert S. Filmer, respectively. The number of specimens preserved in alcohol has also been increased and a new, simpler method of storage instituted. Until 1952 the museum had far too few insects, such as fleas and lice, mounted on slides, but since then Hansens and Paul Burbutis have prepared and identified several hundred slides of fleas for the collection. A quantity of other parasitic insect and mite material is now under preparation.