ZENO PAYNE METCALF (1885-1956)
The website DR. METCALF is fittingly named for Zeno Payne Metcalf, whose life's
work was inseparably linked to the study of the Auchenorrhyncha.
Fascinated by both the scientific and economic aspects of these plant-feeding
insects, Z.P. Metcalf amassed the world's most comprehensive collection of
literature on the Auchenorrhyncha, including nearly all publications
on the group through 1955. This internationally recognized collection,
the Zeno P. Metcalf Papers, is now housed at the NCSU Libraries. Based on this
literature, Metcalf produced his extraordinary 42-volume "General Catalogue
of the Homoptera of the World" and
its associated bibliographies (Metcalf 1944-1968). Through this website, this
extensive literature collection is taking on a virtual presence.
The son of Abel Crawford Metcalf and Catherine (Fulmer) Metcalf, Zeno was
born in Lakeville, Ohio, on 1 May 1885. He earned his Bachelor of Arts at Ohio
State University in 1907 and his Doctor of Science at Harvard in 1925. His
entire professional career was closely identified with North Carolina State
College, now known as NC State University,
where Metcalf headed the Department of Zoology and Entomology for nearly 40
years (1912-1950) and served as Entomologist to the North Carolina Agricultural
Experiment Station. Metcalf also served as Director of Graduate Studies for
three years and as Associate Dean of the Graduate School for seven years. Advanced
students came from afar to study under his direction, and he published three
textbooks on zoology. Becoming widely recognized for his catalogue of the Auchenorrhynchous
Hemiptera, he brought distinction to himself, his department, and his university.
Nationally, Metcalf served as President of the Entomological Society of America (in the ESA group photo below, Dr. Metcalf is in the front row, third
from the left), the Ecological Society of America, and the American Microscopical Society. Internationally, Dr. Metcalf was perhaps best known for his abundant contributions in insect systematics. Among these, the General Catalogue of the Homoptera, was of utmost importance as a foundation for further research on this group. After Dr. Metcalf passed away (5 January 1956), his devoted assistant, Virginia Wade Burnside, and his successor, David A. Young, completed the publication of this monumental series.
Metcalf's library contained every word published on the Auchenorrhyncha
through 1955, including many early works with wonderful hand-colored plates.
His library and his extensive, worldwide collection of specimens of this group
were donated to NC State University. Metcalf's literature collection contributes
greatly to the rich entomological holdings of the NCSU
Libraries' Special Collections. His specimens form the nucleus of the
Insect Collection, which now holds in excess of 200,000 pinned Auchenorrhyncha
and nearly 1.4 million prepared insect specimens overall. We invite users to browse the holdings of the Collection through links under the Images section of the five major groups within the Auchenorrhyncha.
Besides being a prolific researcher, devoted teacher, and respected administrator, Dr. Metcalf was an accomplished illustrator. He enjoyed fishing, gardening, and collecting insects. His homemade camper on wheels demonstrated that he was really ahead of his times. His wife, Luella, and daughter, Katherine, frequently joined him on collecting trips.
owe a great debt to Z. P. Metcalf for his accuracy and thoroughness in compiling
what many consider to be the most excellent catalogs and bibliographies ever
produced for a major group of insects. Dr. Metcalf always carried his penknife,
a magnesium medallion, and, for luck, an Ohio buckeye. Lucky are we that he
recognized the value of publishing bibliographies and catalogues, and that
he chose to study the Auchenorrhyncha. Dr. Metcalf's legacy lives on in the
form of research contributions, his library, and his insect collection--all
of which continue to advance the study of insects. Thus, it is most
appropriate that today's students should consult DrMetcalf to find information
on the insects he loved.
Zeno Payne Metcalf prepared by L. L. Deitz. 1 December 2008.
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