British Museum (Natural History): Department of Zoology: Arachnida Section: Correspondence
The series consists of the correspondence of successive heads of the Arachnida Section, and covers the acquisition, loan and exchange of specimens, enquiries from amateur and professional zoologists, medical men, furniture dealers and others, and arachnid research.
Correspondence is arranged alphabetically in DF 255/1-34, and is divided into subject and country of origin files in DF 255/35-70.
Correspondence of Reginald Innes Pocock is held in DF 250
Subject to 30 year closure unless otherwise stated
Immediate source of acquisition:
The series was transferred into the archives in 1991.
The series was transferred to the Zoology Library in 1985.
Accruing through the Modern Record Store.
Unpublished finding aids:
DF 255/1-2 have a name-index.
Administrative / biographical background:
The Arachnida Section was formally set up in 1913 when the old Invertebrate Section was split up on the retirement of Edgar A Smith, and was renamed Arachnida and Myriapoda Section in 1932. However, correspondence in the series dates from 1904, just before the appointment of Arthur Stanley Hirst (1883-1930) to succeed Reginald I Pocock. Hirst, who had read zoology at University College London, worked on the mammal collection for a short time before transferring to the arachnids. He described new spiders, harvestmen, scorpions and millipedes, but concentrated most of his attention on the Acari (mites and ticks). Early items include many letters addressed to W T Calman which he passed on to Hirst. Hirst resigned due to ill health in 1927, and was succeeded by Susan Finnegan (b. 1903), who continued Hurst's work on Acari until she resigned in 1936 to marry Walter Campbell Smith of Mineralogy Department. She was followed by Richard James Whittick (b 1912), who worked mainly on ticks from 1936 to 1940, and Gwilym Owen Evans (b. 1924), who published some sixty papers on Acari during his tenure as Head of Section from 1950 to 1967. John Gordon Sheals (1923-1990) was appointed to the Section in 1958, and applied computer techniques to acarine taxonomy, until his appointment as Keeper of Zoology in 1971.
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