SPEAKER 1: The people that preceded us at Cornell, we certainly know their names, Martha Van Rensselaer, Liberty Hyde Bailey, John Henry Comstock, Anna Botsford Comstock. But we rarely take the time to learn about their lives, activities, personalities and challenges. The story that Carol is going to tell us today is an amazing and inspirational one about one of Cornell's pre-eminent biologists, writers and educators, Anna Botsford Comstock.
SPEAKER 2: Thanks, Brian. It's been really fun to do this with you as well. Brian and I were in the audience for Carol's Founders' Memorial Lecture about Anna Comstock last year at the Entomological Society meeting. Everyone there found this an amazing, moving and inspiring lecture, and it became sort of our dream to bring Carol here to tell Cornell's students, faculty and staff about Anna Comstock.
Carol is the perfect person to tell us about Anna Comstock. She is simultaneously a biologist and insect physiologist, an educator and historian of science. Indeed, it's really fun to read her CV, because you bounce from papers on pesticides and bees to papers on how to design the best exams, to pick science history papers on people like BD Walsh, an entomologist and early champion of Darwin.
Carol received her PhD in entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She did her postdoc at the USDA ARS and then became a faculty member. She was on the faculty at Washington State University until 2013 when she moved to Ohio State, where she is currently professor and chair of the entomology department there. Carol's excellence in teaching, mentoring, science and science history has been recognized in many different ways, most recently by being chosen to deliver the Founders' Memorial Lecture last year about Anna Comstock. As I said, it's been just a real dream for us to have her here to give this talk to us, and we welcome you, Carol.
SPEAKER 1: Should I test the microphone? Can you folks hear me through the microphone? It sounds like it. OK. We're good. So I want to just say to the students who are pursuing their Master's and PhD degrees, do not do what Mariana said I did, because that's not how you should take your careers, especially when you're trying to get your degrees. You probably need to focus first. I really don't recommend it, although it's been fun, and a lot of turns and twists.
I do want to say thank you, all, for being here. Thank you to Mariana and Brian, and obviously some other folks that I didn't know that did work to bring me here. It's very kind. I know it's a lot of work to do something like this, and it's of course a deep honor to be here. It's a dream for me how I got to escape administration for a few days.
But it's a dream to be able to walk in the footsteps of Anna Botsford Comstock and to share what little I know about her life and legacy among all of you Cornellians. And I put in a few things that I hope you folks will find particularly interesting that I didn't show the entomologists. OK. So let's see. We'll try this. Right.
So I really do consider this to be a daunting task. I think that Mariana was generous in calling me a historian. I do love to do history of science and entomology, but I'm cognizant of the fact that my degree was in insect physiology. Anyway, when you look at somebody's life like Anna Botsford Comstock, it's daunting because I can't comprehend how this woman did everything that she did. And this is the Ithica Journal News editorial that was published in August of 1930 when she passed, saying, in part, that it would be difficult to say whether Anna was better known as an author, a teacher or as an artist.
And so that's the framework I'll take for my talk today. I'll share with you something about her work as an author, as a best selling author, her work as an innovative innovative educator, and then her work as an Illustrator, as a scientific illustrator, but also as a creative artist, as best I can, because I lack any artistic talent.
OK, so I'm going be starting at the beginning. Anna was born as an only child to Phebe and Marvin Botsford, and she was born near a small rural farming community near Otto, New York. She was born in a log home, but eventually at the age of 13, she and her parents moved to this home. And her parents, I think, were very progressive thinkers, and they were absolutely firm believers in education.
So from a young age, Anna was taught, for example, by her mother Phebe, who loved nature. Anna knew the names of many sorts of flowers and also the constellations. She knew that she wanted to pursue a college degree, and they ensured that she would do so by sending her to a very good school. And just so you're aware, the rare books and manuscript collection at your university has a lot of the artifacts that I'll be sharing with you today, so I want to give recognition. These are two of her diaries from 1870 and 1871, for example.
OK, so when she was 17, Anna moved to about 18 miles away to board at Chamberlain Institute in nearby Randolph, New York. And she was there for two years. That's her diploma in the upper right and a picture of her that's, I think, from around that time. She was salutatorian and reportedly gave her salutatory address in Latin. I don't know how many people understood it at the time.
And she was already thinking about college, as I said, and she writes to Cornell. She was already by that time something of an experienced instructor, because she had to fill in for the regular teacher in Otto, New York, when he took ill. So this is an image of her certificate of membership as a member of the Cattaraugus County Teachers' Association.
So she writes to Cornell, and at this time, the university has been admitting students in 1874 for about six years. It's still pretty small, and when she writes to Cornell, she hears back from President Andrew D White himself, much as I'm sure any [INAUDIBLE].
And there's just the letter, and enclosed or along with it are [INAUDIBLE]. She also receives this hopeful circular like FAQs, frequently asked questions, that's addressed, dear sir.
So I show this to you, not to make fun of Cornell, but I mean, it's 1874. Very few women are getting college degrees at this time, so we need to, I think, place ourselves in the time frame of when Anna is in school. So she enters in November of that year, and at that time, she was going to board at what was then called Sage College, but it was still being built. So this is where the women were going to be living. But because it wasn't ready, she had to live in off campus housing.
President White becomes a personal friend. She writes in her autobiography about being able to borrow books from his personal library, and there he is in that circle seated way in the back among his thousands of books. I'm really excited because I think I get to see this tomorrow, something of his library. I've never seen that. Anyway, she takes John Henry's course in zoology and then entomology, and it's 1875. And they make their acquaintance, and here's John Henry, [INAUDIBLE]. And here's Anna Botsford, a young Anna.
And you'll note that they both have their insect sweep nets, which obviously is a portent of their lives that would be together soon after they get married for the rest of their time together, in both work and marriage. They start taking their dinners at Sage when it's completed and the reason is, from what I've read in the autobiography, that for the cafeteria or the food preparation area of that college to run more efficiently, they had to invite men in.
So men could come in and pay for their meals, and I'm sure it probably helped the bottom line a little bit. And so they start sitting together, having their dinners, but they're actually each thinking of other people at that time. They also [INAUDIBLE] they were friends. But then things happen over time, and they get wed.
And in 1878, they have somewhere around there a [INAUDIBLE]-- oh, and by the way, it's 150 years ago this week that they were married. Isn't that nice? That's just a happenstance. We didn't plan that. I wish I had that much foresight. Anyway, so John Henry had already purchased land here, and so they built this home which they called Fall Creek Cottage. I mean, it looks like a mansion, but they called it a cottage, and that's where they lived for a long time, and it's shown here at number 94. Now of course, it's not there anymore.
AUDIENCE: It's interesting that the caption says residents of Anna Botsford Comstock.
CAROL ANELLI: Yes, because the article was about her. That was a clipping in the archive about, I think, an interview with her. Let's see if I can get it. This might be a great challenge. Let me see if I can go back. I think we have-- this doesn't happen on a Mac.
That's why those of us that use Macs use them. All right, so let's see. That's working. I'm trying to advance to the next slide. Do you think I should escape out and get back in? I mean, I'll let Karen take care of this. [INAUDIBLE] But what it's going to say, so that you're not bored-- thank you. What did you touch that was matching?
AUDIENCE: I mean, I just clicked right here. I don't know why it's not [INAUDIBLE].
CAROL ANELLI: All right, fine. Thank you. So don't look for that home now, of course, because it's now the area of [INAUDIBLE]. OK. You may need to stand here. You didn't want to go do something else, did you? Oh, all right. You know what, mine is a touch instead of a press. I got it. You're good. All right, folks. I'm sorry.
So I was going to make the point here that as I already mentioned, women, very few were getting college degrees. And women, when they were working in science, it was typically in the shadow of men, and they often were not getting credit. And I want to point out here that I think John Henry was in certain ways an early feminist. Here he is. She says in her autobiography, we worked together then as later. He used to help me in these early days wash the dishes, and I used to go to the laboratory and help him.
So they really worked, as far as I can determine, very much hand in glove, and he did give her credit as we'll see in the coming slides. OK, so they were married about a year, and as fate would have it, John Henry accepts a position because it opens up, temporarily as it would be, at the USDA to be the chief entomologist. CV Riley had occupied that position.
So they moved to Washington DC. They're there for two years, and this is the building that's no longer there. This was on the Mall of Washington DC, and on the second floor, in these rectangular red boxes here, are where the entomologists would have been working. So that's where they were working. Anna was actually paid for-- again, she received remuneration from the feds for her work. Not typical.
This big yellow rectangle, by the way, was a museum at the time, you know, glass fronted display cases. As the chief entomologist for the USDA, John Henry Comstock had to produce reports for the two years he was there. And Anna, here's one of her early drawings from that time. And again, he gives her recognition in those reports.
She also has to learn how to use the typewriter, and this was reportedly, according to Anna, the second typewriter ever purchased by the USDA. Not that one in particular, but I assume one that looked like it. They had just gone and bought the second one. Well, they were only there for two years, because there was a change in the presidential administration. Back then, the federal government was small. The chief entomologist like knew the President of the United States. It's crazy.
And they have to leave because CV Riley's back in with the changing administration. So they go back to Cornell, and somewhere in here, the couple decides that for Anna to really have contributed in science, for her to do these illustrations, it would really behoove her to finish her degree. So she's going to go back to Cornell and do that. Now, any of you that have had, and I bought there are a lot of you, experience with a two career couple know how challenging that is when you're both trying to pursue your dream, and having to work all the time and do it and maintain a relationship.
So we get a little bit of Anna's humor here in a letter to William [INAUDIBLE]. The botanists in the audience may know that name. And she says, do you know that Henry and I have a new wife? My cousin, [INAUDIBLE], is the victim. She cooks our dinner, sews our buttons, mends our gloves, and is in short the goddess of our domestic life. I can still work with Harry-- her pet name for him-- and we have our home life too.
So again, at this time, you know, there's no prepared foods. You're doing everything yourself, that you don't have the modern appliances to do the cooking and cleaning, all that kind of stuff. So this is partly how she got things done. oh it's got to be right there, OK. Thank you. I apologize again.
She finally gets her agree in June in Natural History, a Bachelor of Science. There it is in the lower right signed by [INAUDIBLE]. I'm going to try this again. That same year, because she's been doing these renderings for John Henry, she decides to submit her drawings. And you're going to see in the next few slides several events that were going on, World's Fair Exposition, that kind of thing at this time in our history.
And so in 1885, she submits some of her drawings to the New Orleans World's Fair, and the result is she gets first honorable mention for scientific drawings. She writes in her autobiography that this recognition caused her to take up her engraving with new vigor. In 1888, John Henry publishes an introduction to entomology, and you'll notice again that she is right here recognized on the front page for her work for the illustrations that are not credited to other sources.
And when he says they've been drawing engraved nature, as they'll sometimes say, he means not from a rendering that somebody else did. It's from the specimen itself and engraved by Mrs. Comstock. Now, we know from her book-- and I'm going to put a shout out right now-- in the audience is an author. This book will be coming out in an unexpurgated way in--
AUDIENCE: About 2020.
CAROL ANELLI: Sometime in 2020, we hope in early 2020, by Cornell University Press. And Karen St. Clair is in the audience with us. She completed her PhD focused Anna Botsford Comstock and in particular on all of the stuff that was left out of this original manuscript and perhaps why that was. For more information on that mysterious thing, you want to talk to Karen, who's right in the second row. I'm grateful for meeting with Karen today. OK.
So we know from here how this came about, the engraving, not just the drawing with pen and ink or pencil, but engraving. Anna writes, "I saw an advertisement of wooden engraving tools with a booklet of directions and promptly sent for them. And with my usual daring on untried paths, I went at it."
And as I said before, I could have all the daring in the world and nothing like this was going to come out of it. So just, you know, I mean, she just was a wonderful artist. So this is a print of one of her many wood engravings. And this one happens to be to your famous Martha Van Rensselaer, reads with love from the engraver and artist.
So I want to take one slide to let you know what it's like to do wood engraving, not that I know first-hand. The way it works is the artist will-- follow along with the numbers-- the artist gets the block, paints it to be able to then pencil the image to it. And then the block is maneuvered on a sandbag-- a leather sandbag-- and while the instrument is held in the hand-- those are Anna's tools in the lower left that are also in the archives-- and the artist moves it around.
This takes hours, days, perhaps weeks. Eventually, when the block is completed, it's inked and then its pressed to paper. And so you get a relief print, and that's what you're seeing is number 6. It's obviously the mirror image of what you had on the block. A lot of work.
To do this in 1885-- remember, she got a diploma in June-- in November, right after Thanksgiving, she takes herself down to Cooper Union in Lower Manhattan, and she boards in a boardinghouse for about six weeks to work at the famed Cooper Union with leading engravers at the time, Mr. John P. Davis and others. And so there she was not far from Greenwich Village and Washington Park. She would return there a couple more times and Mr. Davis, her teacher, came to visit the concepts as well.
I just want to say, from the little bit I've read about that and the history of this, there's a lovely book on this. It's quite oversized and beautiful. These folks at the Cooper Union at that time were really upending the rules of engraving, how you would do the skies, for example. They were saying, no, you can do that a different way with lines in a different way. And so they were kind of really progressive, young Turks, if you will. She was one of three women then who were at Cooper Union.
In 1890, the entomology department, always at the forefront of culture, people don't know know this about entomologists, but you know, here we are. At the rooms of the entomological department at Cornell University then in Whitehall, Anna arranged for her colleagues from the Society of American Wood Engravers to have an exhibit of their proofs, which had been sent the previous year to the Universal Exposition in Paris. So that's in the archives as well.
In 1893, another big World's Fair occurred, this time of course in Chicago. It's a famous one. I think you all know about this. Anna took her parents. Mr. Davis, her teacher, convinced her to submit six prints, and she writes about it, how thrilling it was for her to have her work hanging there with the work of the masters, you know, from various places in the world.
However, when it came time to giving the awards, because it was a competition, she writes that the judges eliminated her work along with that of the bank engravers, because they considered it to be too specialized and was somehow not fitting into this category. And so, to me, this was a magnanimous comment. I don't know if it's in the original here, but I fought this fair enough. And there it is. That was the print that she spoke of, a Moonlight Sonata. We see the moths against the moon and the trees.
In 1895, the first edition-- this went through maybe about 22 editions-- the manual, The Study of Insects came out. This was a co-authored book. Became a standard textbook for many years for entomology. Co-authored by John and Anna. Again, you know in the preface, he gives her credit, and he points out that not only did she work with the pencil engraver, meaning engraving, but also she wrote passages. And so she really was a co-author.
Again, we know from the autobiography something about how this power couple worked. In 1893, right after Cornell's commencement, they left Ithaca to go to the lake and work eight or nine hours a day for two weeks on nothing but finishing that book. And so she writes about Mr. Comstock did his writing in the early mornings. He would rise at 4:00 AM. He would go to bed early. And if they were entertaining, she took care of the guests so that he could do the work when he wanted to. And so from 8:00 till 6:00, and then they would maybe go for a bike ride after.
In 1901, another one of these big expositions, this time Buffalo, New York. Easily accessible by rail and powered with hydroelectric power by nearby Niagara Falls. So people and guests had never seen electricity quite in that way on such a grand scale. And she won first award for engravings there of insects. This was also President McKinley was assassinated, by the way.
Not a one of her remarkable engravings-- I do want to print, and I do want to say this would have been-- this is very much sharper in the original, but it's photographed-- we did this with our iPhone. But in the archive, it's under a piece of very thin like onion-skin paper because that was there to protect it. So we didn't want to disturb that and be thrown out of your archives when we were doing this.
So she was the third woman ever elected to the American Society of Wood Engravers. Actually, I told the story. I got so excited in the archives, I made a big yelp, and I was told that that was not OK. Don't do that in the archive. So two more of Anna's. I think you can appreciate the beauty of these and intricate detail and how long it would have taken her to do this. The one on the left was dedicated to-- it reads, Anna Botsford Comstock, for Professor and Mrs. Bailey. And the one on the right was for the manual of The Study of Insects, the co-authored book.
Knowing that this is what her work looked like, you can understand in the next slide why Anna was horrified with the advent of half tones. And you all know what these are. They're like, you know, Roy Lichtenstein's art with little dots and spaces of different sizes that our eyes and brains conjure into an image that you're seeing with this woman saying half tones.
What was happening was this was the next change in the ability to print illustrations. As Anna gave and explained in a newspaper interview, it just takes so long, as you understand now from-- and you probably already did, I don't know-- so an industrious engraver can get, whatever it is, 1 and 1/2 square inches in nine hours.
A half tone would be done very quickly and cost $0.05 a square inch, the wood engraving $2 the $4 a square inch. So at one time in the country, there were hundreds of wood engravers because it was the medium of choice for publishers who had illustrations in their work, in the things they were printing. But eventually, half tones was going to take over.
So now we'll leave Anna in terms of her art, and we'll turn to the nature study in this other area where she was very active. To understand this, this was about a 40-year time frame in our nation's history. And again, we're going to find her in [INAUDIBLE] with her usual daring and untried paths treading along.
A little bit of historical context. In the last part of the 19th century, about 1891 to '93, the country was in the throes of an agricultural depression. And people were fleeing the farms to go to the cities, which were overcrowded and really couldn't absorb them, but they were looking for jobs.
So a major study arose as a way, kind of a pedagogical solution to this problem. How could you keep them down on the farm, in other words. Well, the thought was you could take the innate curiosity of children and their powers of observation, help them hone those skills, and that would in turn not only have skills for life that might help them stay on the farm and enjoy it, but they'd also gain science knowledge as well. And that was the idea.
Cornell University and the University of Chicago were the intellectual leaders of this major study movement. So in other words, this is where the professors were who were teaching the would-be teachers who were going to go teach these students. They were creating a curriculum for those teachers, the people that would become teachers.
And so this proliferation of nature clubs was spawned across the nation, and here you see these sweet little children, the Bird Lover's Club with their bird boxes. And pamphlet-- educational pamphlets-- is this one by Anna Botsford Comstock on the common butterflies. There were clubs that formed that had monthly pamphlets that were printed. And then of course, the curricula for the teachers, the nature study for teachers of elementary school.
It's hard to believe in this nation, as I think about it now, by 1921, nearly every state in the union had nature study as part of its public school curriculum. You know, we don't have a concerted curriculum these days-- whatever-- cohesive curriculum across the nation. You know this, right? That's what they were doing then.
So how did Anna get involved in this? So I understand that Liberty Hyde Bailey was reading this effort, and he enlisted Anna's service. So in 1898, because of him, she was named the first woman of faculty rank at Cornell. However, the Board of Trustees didn't really think that was a good idea. So the next year, she was a lecturer again and wouldn't become an assistant professor in a return appointment until 1913, not so long before she became a professor and retired. But so it was. By then, she was also Chair of the Nature Study Department. So she had to develop that.
Now, there is a history, which I admit I didn't really know about, on the nature study movement. there is a scholarly literature on this. So people like this famous historian, Sally Gregory Kohlstedt, who's written a book recently on it. That's [INAUDIBLE]. Teaching Children Science, Hands On Nature Study In North America in those years. So it's experiential learning.
There are others who have as well written on this-- other historians. Pam Henson was a historian at the Smithsonian Institution. And I think that was from a book that she wrote a chapter. And you'll know that in his name is-- sorry, I think this might have died. Anyway, Anna's name is in the titles or subtitles of the book's articles.
So Liberty Hyde Bailey and Anna Botsford Comstock institute these nature study summer courses here at Cornell. You see them with the teachers there, around 1900, and let's see. The leftmost arrowhead is John Henry Comstock. Seated to his right, the young Liberty Hyde Bailey, and right behind them is Anna Botsford Comstock.
Anna also published a syllabus of lectures. She understood that teachers are not going to be able to do this without instruction and help. She had in there a list of what nature study does for the child, the benefits, but also recognition of what it does for the teacher. And it wasn't all roses, you know, but there were going to be challenges to be able to have the teachers teach from nature, and really they were putting the burden on the children to do the observing with a guiding by the instructor.
Over this time, she developed apparently a voluminous correspondence, because the teachers were writing to her with questions. And she would write back and answer them. Now, this is dated 1923. She was already retired, and here she is responding and answering the question, saying let me know how you're getting along. I'm happy to help.
In 1897, John Henry's book comes-- that's called Insect Life-- was published. And we know from her autobiography that Anna prevailed upon John Henry to do this book, because in her view, as I have the quote up at the top, she needed, she thought, the teachers needed a book of a very different character from being able to teach children and also for the novice to be able to read the facts from nature's book.
And she writes in her autobiography that this is the first time she's ever attempted to do landscapes. And you can see the breathtaking beauty of those three landscapes. The one-- again, she's giving credit there by John Henry, and I've circled it in red. The upper right is titled Dandelions and a Locust.
If you look on the rightmost stem of the dandelion head, you see what we call a [INAUDIBLE]. But you know, it was common parlance. It's OK. And we're not going to criticize it, because she can do stuff like this. This was also in Insect Life, 1897. Again, this would have been crystal clear except for that little bit of onion skin paper over it-- a piece of that type of paper. That's an [INAUDIBLE].
This was a busy person. At this time of her life, she's doing Chautauquas. She's going around the country doing these Farmers Institutes, and she's an editor. The leftmost Nature Study Review was a journal that started. She was a contributing editor for 12 years and then the soul editor for the next six. On the far right, Country Life in America, this was Liberty Hyde Bailey's journal. And he had her as the poetry editor. And if you've read anything of Anna's or seen her work, that makes perfect sense, because she always had this lyric quality wafting down, infused her works with the works of poetry.
And this is the big tone, and I do mean big. It weighs in-- I don't know. I should have weighed it. It's a very heavy book. It's printed on glazed paper. It's her Handbook of Nature Study, and if people do know her, this might be the book that she's most famous for. It was published in 1911.
And you can see by this point in time now, we have a sweet little girl holding a bird and this child out among the flowers. So photographs have now come into publishing. This book was an immediate success. It's considered a classic, 24 editions, 8 languages. It's still in print, and we know Anna's view was-- I love this-- it does not contain more than any intelligent child of 12 should know of his environment. I know I wouldn't pass a test on that I am not as intelligent as a country child of 12. But we know a little more about this book and how it came to be.
She writes in her autobiography, "My husband, who had so heartily and generously backed me in my former undertakings, was most discouraging. He said the book would never pay for the printing. I disagreed with the judgment of my friends and family. I believed the book would pay for itself after several years. And I felt that I could not let all the hard work I had done for teachers be lost. So I went at my task with defiant courage."
Words to live by. She later says, "I put every spare moment into writing, although it was hard to find spare moments." I hope I'm giving you an appreciation for that's probably true. She didn't have a lot of spare moments. I'll mention here that another of her single-authored books, Ways of the Six Footed, was very popular with elementary school children-- excuse me, teachers of elementary school children.
Here's a little piece I inserted for you folks. So in the Aidan White Papers is this letter Anna wrote in 1911, March, to dear friend, Aidan White. They're living still at Fall Creek Cottage, that image I showed you, and she's writing to him about what will become Risley Hall Dormitory. It's going to be the second women's dormitory, as I understand it, on the campus.
But she hears that he has procured a gift of $300,000. And she's so excited, she says, "I can stick second line down. I heard the news. I scarcely slept at all that night." But he was blind now. So she's writing this letter. He had taken off to travel somewhere.
And she notes just above page or number two, "so deep is my gratitude for your work for Cornell women." And she goes on to say, "I am anxious as anybody about where you're going to build this, but without knowing your views, I have this very decided preference. I'm going to open my heart to you." Now we're down here. I'm sorry. My little pointer has quit. So I'm just going to try to direct you.
"I know that you wish to have this built between Stimson and Sage." Now, you folks know that's not where it is. "I fully appreciate what this would mean architecturally as well as for emphasizing"-- and I love this-- a new, "emphasizing a new fact that girls are here to stay and are important for the university life."
However, I lived at Sage College when I was a student, and I'm going to tell you what's wrong with that, putting it between Stimson and Sage. There was no seclusion, and boys and passers by are looking at the girls and the girls recreate and do what they wanted to do. And she has recently heard, as she says at the end of that first paragraph, overheard on the streetcars about the girls playing tennis in the Sage courts.
So she says we now know that we really need to be getting out the door for the health of the soul, especially our students, but these girls aren't going to be able to do that if you put them right on that campus. So if however, it were to be placed on Cornell Heights near the end of Triphammer Bridge, and it were to include the brink of the gorge along with the grounds to Fall Creek Drive, the girls could be out there. They could be secluded and recreate.
And then another argument. There are those dormitories in Chicago, but if we-- the University of Chicago, I presume-- but if you put that one there, it will have an individuality that will make it the most beautiful dormitory in America. And then she reasons a little more. First line up there.
We're going to have to keep the lower class-- the women in the freshmen sophomore years-- to stay at Sage, because there's going to be an exodus. Everybody's going to want to be on the gorge over on the other side of the river. And then she says-- this is the diplomatic part, I think-- "I feel very sure that the new hall will be placed where you wish it to be and very justly so. We all love you so much and trust you so much that whatever you decide, we're OK with it."
And then another argument. If I had a daughter, I would send her to Cornell, but you know, the Sage College thing. I don't know. Another argument. Mr. Comstock is enthusiastic over the Cornell Heights, and even though our new house is going to be on that road, it's going to mean it's going to be cul de sac, we'll do it for the girls. So that's the last line here. And then, you know, how happy and splendid it is that you've done this for the women. And I don't know if it's generally appreciated how close-- it seems to me these folks were with Aidan White.
If you look at that, those last two lines, are for how just and how loyal you have always been to us. Our love and devotion you are surely commensurate for. You have more of both than you'll ever dream of. With loving regards from us, The Comstocks.
So there it is. And of course, Risley was built and two years later in 1913 it opened. Now, I don't know the history. But I was hoping someone can enlighten me. I only know that it was talked about a lot, I'm told, by someone that is not familiar today. But I'm really curious if there's any evidence of her having had this influence on Aidan White.
In the archives, there's this beautiful watercolor of Anna's, and I'm going to ask you to remember this pillar, which has a sundial on it. And that's her rendering of it, and you can see the tower in the background from Risley. And they moved about five months later to this site, and you can see over here where Risley is. So I'm presuming that she had a view of that tower in the house.
So she retired in about 1921. The faculty of agriculture passed a resolution noting those three areas where she had excelled, mastering the art of wood engraving and being recognized by artists, the work she did with her pen as an author, and then what she did with nature study, the industry, this field, and then the outcome of that work, the practical results.
Martha Van Rensselaer, whom I know you folks know, is here and with Anna was one of the 12 greatest living women, as voted by the League of Women Voters in 1923. And there's a famous letter that Anna writes to Martha. And this is-- you can see this online actually. She says "hooray for us, hooray for Chattaraug-- Cattaraugus." There is my typo, though. OK. There's no H there. "Hooray for the elect 12." And then Anna says, "when I was first told who would be on it, I thought it had to be some other Comstock lady."
1928, the couple-- again, 100 years ago this week-- celebrated their wedding anniversary, their 50th wedding anniversary. And well, 150 years ago for their wedding this week. It happened to coincide, and this is probably Ithaca Journal News that wrote about that, but The Atlantic Monthly published this photograph of them, because it was the Fourth International Congress of Entomology in Ithaca, New York at the same time in October.
1929, the students that were graduating dedicated the Cornell yearbook to them and noted them, as you see over here, partners in science as in life, revered as scholars, teachers, writers. And you see some more of Anna's engravings. I don't have to identify those towers for you.
And it was noted when she passed that the influence she had on undergraduates was quite marked, that to have gone-- it was said to have gone to Cornell, not to have known Mrs. Comstock, was to have missed one of the greatest advantages that this university had to offer. If you read about her and her autobiography, you understand that they had an open house. Students would walk in there, and she was a very graceful host.
In 1929 also, Liberty Hyde Bailey and his wife donated a piece of land where they had their summer home to create the [INAUDIBLE]. It says here the camp [INAUDIBLE] for girls. And you see it now in those photos as it currently is. So they dedicated-- they donated the land and then-- and they used to call it Bailiwick. And they donated-- after they did that, Anna wrote them this note on the right.
And I apologize. When I photographed it, it was just like having the information, not to show to you folks, but I just wanted to share with you the upper-- right across the top of it on the right, she writes at the top of the letter, "these words cannot express what I feel in this matter" about their generosity. And as she says at the end, its influence will last long, long after we are gone.
So I mentioned already that she passed in 1930. And again, I think this speaks to her indomitable spirit. This was in the Ithaca Journal News. She had been in failing health for more than a year but had just completed a series of talks for the summer session students.
So what I've done here, this is my only scientific slide. There's an x-y axis. On the x-axis, we can go along through time and trying to give you a sense of the arc of Anna's career in science. She starts out at Cornell in 1874. She begins as an illustrator drawing and then an engraver as we move up and co-author. And then these are the years of nature study and the various activities she was engaged in. And I have it out to 2017. That was when I did the talk last, but that book, The Handbook of Nature Study, is still in print.
I'll mention too, there are a couple of books I didn't talk about that she sole authored on, one of which in 1906, the one that says Confessions to a Heathen Idol, that's a novel. You can get that online in PDF form for free.
She won many professional honors in her lifetime. Just before she passed in 1930, she was given an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters from Hobart College. She had a very close tie to them. I think she was on the Board of Trustees there.
And then posthumously many honors. You all know about the buildings here. I think this is an important one. She was inducted into the Conservation Hall of Fame, the National Wildlife Federation. Last time I checked, there were I think four women and 28 men. So quite an honor. And then last year, the Entomological Society recognized her as a founder.
Her legacy can be traced to people like Edith Patch. In their lives, Edith Patch was the first female president of the Entomological Society of America. Edith studied under Anna and John Henry and dedicated one of her books-- she wrote many of them, I guess for children-- First Lessons in Nature Study to Anna. The one on the right, obviously Rachel Carson needs no introduction. Rachel grew up at the height of the nature study movement. And her biographer, Linda Lear, points to the fact that Rachel's mother used to read Anna's work in nature study to Rachel.
Gertrude Warren apparently also studied with Anna. She is credited with having come up with a name 4H and is considered the mother of 4H. And then if you look into the scholarly literature, she is regarded as a pioneer of elementary school science. She is also in the nature study movement in 1947. This paper came out in American Biology Teacher. The teaching of ecology is traced to this nature study movement.
And this more recent work by Australian Kevin Armitage, it's called The Nature Study Movement. The subtitle is The Forgotten Popularizer of America's Conservation Ethic. And he argues in the book that nature study is clearly the foundation of environmental education and a forerunner for ideologies, like deep ecology that he's written about now.
If you happen to be near Otto, you can-- this was a thrilling moment-- you can see her home, the home we showed you earlier. In the lower right, there it is, and they actually have a historical marker, and they got it right. It says Professor of Nature Anna Botsford Comstock, 1854 to 1930. Professor at Cornell. I guess I can read it from here, now that I'm at the end. Sorry. Oh, actually I can't. My eyes won't read that. All right. Let me go back to here. A Professor at Cornell, author of Handbook Of Nature Study as well as an engraver and illustrator.
You know, the building in the upper right, what was the original Comstock Publishing, that's how it looked when they first put it up. And John Henry and Anna, and they called it the chalet. There they are standing in front of 124 Roberts Place. And of course, that's not only something that they put on this campus but as well Cornell University put up Anna Comstock Hall, which is now the Latino Learning Community, is that right?
The Ledge was the last house that they lived in. This was across the street from what was originally Comstock Publishing. And you see it in the upper right and down below. See that pillar? That was the one that had a sundial on it when they were there.
And John Henry bought that sundial in England, and it used to sit on that post. So that's another of Anna's water colors. And there she is on her 60th birthday sitting in front of the house with the sundial. Of course, you know about Comstock. I don't have to tell you about the Cornell Plantations. Beautiful place.
And the sesquicentennial grove. These slabs of concrete, beautiful installation, that have engravings of famous Cornell folks, famous Cornellians. If you read the Anna Botsford Comstock quote from her autobiography, it has to do with her acknowledgment of Cornell as the place that taught her religious tolerance for the spiritual views of others.
If you sit on that, you'll be sitting on a quote from Aidan White, which seems to be very important. And we see this Saturday morning. The First Unitarian Society of Ithaca has this triptych stained glass window in honor of Anna out in nature with children.
So there she is again. This beautiful photo of her. There's even a children's book written by her that's called-- about her-- Out of School and Into Nature, the Anna Comstock Story. And in there, there is a quote from her autobiography about in her youth how one of my joys was going barefoot from early spring until late autumn.
Now, as you may know, there is concern nowadays about children not getting out of doors very much. And when they do, it's not unstructured play. And so a couple of books have been written more recently about this, kind of making accessible the current literature on this. And the book on the left, Last Child in the Woods, is subtitled Saving Our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder.
The one on the right is How To Raise a Wild Child, and its subtitle is The Art and Science of Falling In Love With Nature. So as I say, these are very-- they take the current literature on this and make an argument for letting children go out of doors, you know, not on the soccer field in structured play, just going out and exploring. And I like to think that if Anna were among us today, she would be an advocate for that movement.
So I get to thank some of the people that I know were going to be here but not everyone. So thanks again to those who did that, whose names I didn't know about. And of course, the collections here, thank you all. And then please permit me-- I don't know, did anybody-- how many of you knew Ed Smith? Ah, OK.
Well, I only knew Ed as an emeritus professor. When I was a graduate student is how I first came to know him. And he wrote about Anna. That's a paper of his from 1990 and the title of it. And then he wrote an article for the [INAUDIBLE] of Entomology, The Comstock Stand at Cornell in the People's Service. He also wrote an introduction to Anna's book, Ways of the Six Footed. And I want to acknowledge Ed as one of the Cornellians who I owe something to.
He was a mentor to me in the history of science. He opened doors for me. When I was a graduate student, and I got distracted and I've already told students not to do that, my advisor was on sabbatical. And I took a history of biology course.
Anyway, I got sidetracked and Ed Smith had gone to the Field Museum and heard that some graduate student from Illinois was there. And he contacted me to make sure he wasn't stepping on my toes, and he wasn't. We were working on people that worked together but not the same man.
That was 1985, and 14 years later, he sent me a copy-- he sent me the letter that I had written to him. And he was so generous. And I won't read what he wrote to me, but he sent it back to me. It was the most encouraging words to, again, somebody that was still just starting off in her career. So thank you Ed and thank you all. Thanks, [INAUDIBLE]
I don't know if there's time for questions for this.
SPEAKER 3: There's a little time for questions and then there will be five minutes. But then there will be a reception outside [INAUDIBLE].
CAROL ANELLI: And I want to say one thing. I know I shouldn't have been doing, but I couldn't read the lettering on this thing, so I had to keep turning. I couldn't [INAUDIBLE] So I apologize for having to talk to the screen more than [INAUDIBLE]. Happy to answer any questions. And by the way, we have a ringer in audience. Oh, yes.
SPEAKER 3: For the dormitory [INAUDIBLE] that you mentioned--
CAROL ANELLI: Yeah.
SPEAKER 3: Did it actually get built where she recommended? I don't know--
CAROL ANELLI: Well, so it's near there, yes. It's not on the main campus. It's on the other side of the creek near Triphammer Bridge. The other side. So that did happen. But what I don't know-- all we know is this teaser letter, right? We don't know.
And it was suggested that one could look at the Board of Trustees. So somebody out there can look at the Board of Trustees minutes and figure that out, if she had as much influence. But I guess there might have been a lot of hubbub in the newspapers probably at that time too. Are we good? Oh, yes.
SPEAKER 4: I was just wondering if they had-- they didn't have kids.
CAROL ANELLI: They didn't have children. Apparently, they could not have children. I think they talked about adopting, but that didn't happen.
SPEAKER 5: He got the mumps.
CAROL ANELLI: He had the mumps.
SPEAKER 5: He got the mumps right after they got married.
CAROL ANELLI: Oh, OK.
SPEAKER 5: And [INAUDIBLE].
CAROL ANELLI: So yeah. You don't want-- for males, we know this is the case now. It's a danger for men to have the mumps when you're past puberty. Yeah.
SPEAKER 6: Is there any mention of starting a bird club in that?
CAROL ANELLI: I'm sorry?
SPEAKER 6: Is there any mention of starting a bird club? It was started by Andrew White, Comstocks, and some other people. This is a bird club from this area. And they started a bird club. And that led to formation of Cornell [INAUDIBLE].
CAROL ANELLI: Oh, really?
SPEAKER 6: Yeah.
CAROL ANELLI: Oh. Great. Well, I get to see Mike Webster tomorrow, my old colleague from Washington State University. And I think probably some of you know the name. I don't know if he's here.
SPEAKER 6: [INAUDIBLE]
CAROL ANELLI: I don't think he's here, but he's a wonderful colleague and some director role there at-- yeah. Oh, so neat. Thank you.
SPEAKER 6: Thank you.
CAROL ANELLI: Yeah. So I think people like coffee and stuff? Refreshments?
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In her University Lecture on Oct. 11, 2018, Dr. Carol Anelli, an entomologist and science historian, presented a talk about the career of Anna Botsford Comstock. Comstock was a writer, scientific illustrator, and entomologist, and Cornell’s first female professor. Dr. Anelli’s lecture, based almost entirely on archival material housed in the Cornell University Libraries, told the story of the major role that Anna Comstock played in the establishment of Cornell as a center for research and education in the natural sciences.
Dr. Anelli described how Comstock developed and fostered her interests in science and art, beginning as an undergraduate at Cornell, and was a model for breaking gender barriers at a time when very few woman went into higher academia. The lecture also wove in stories of famous Cornellians Liberty Hyde Bailey, Martha van Rensselaer, and Andrew Dickson White as it discussed the large role that Comstock (and Cornell) played in the early history of natural sciences, nature-education and entomology, and the influence of the Comstocks on Cornell.