William Harris Ashmead (1855-1908)
William Harris Ashmead was an American entomologist born on 19 September , 1855 at Philadelphia. He died 17 October 1908 at Washington D.C. After his studies in Philadelphia, Ashmead worked for the publisher J. B. Lippincott Co. Later, he settled in Florida where he formed his own publishing house devoted to agriculture. He also launched the Florida Dispatch, an agricultural weekly magazine which included a headed section devoted to injurious insects. In 1879, he began writing papers for scientific publications and, in 1887, he became a field entomologist working for the Ministry for the Agriculture of Florida. The following year, he became entomologist at the Agricultural Research station of Lake City. In 1889, he worked again for the Ministry for Agriculture. The following year, and for two years, he traveled, in particular to Germany, to perfect his entomological knowledge. In 1895, he obtained the post of conservation assistant in the Department of Entomology of the U.S. National Museum, a position he occupied until his death. He was mainly a systematic entomologist who worked on many groups of insects, but particularly on Hymenoptera and he published approximately 260 articles in various scientific reviews.
Ashmead was a most energetic collector, especially of hymenoptera, and the USDA, impressed by his thorough work with insect pests and their parasites, hired him in 1887. Thus began his professional entomological carrer. In 1895, while still employed in the USDA, Ashmead was given an honorary custodial appointment in Hymenoptera by the USMN and became the first hymenopterist at that institution. In 1897 he was given a salaried appointment as Assistant Curator by the Museum. The following year Ashmead donated his private collection, numbering around 60,000 specimens, to the Museum. His collection was very stron in parasitic Hymenoptera because of his years working with parasitic pests, and of course, it was rich in Ashmead types and reared material. At the time of his death in 1908, after a long illness, Ashmead had described more than 3,000 species of Hymenoptera, most of whose types are in the National Collection.
Essig, E. O., B., P., Hist. Applied Ent. pp. 539-541, 1932; A., P., Ent. Rundschau 26:3, 1909.
Crawford, J.C. 1908. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 10: 131-156, portrait.