Edwin Cooper Van Dyke   1869-1952


Edwin Van Dyke


Edwin Van Dyke was one of America’s leading coleoperists at the turn of the last century. He was born 7 April 1869 in Oakland, CA and died 28 September 1952 in San Francisco, CA. He began collecting insects as a child.

He graduated from the University of California with a B. S degree in 1893, after which he went to the Cooper Medical College in San Francisco, graduating with an M.D. degree in 1895. He served as a doctor in several hospitals and in private practice until 1912.

In 1913, he was appointed Assistant in Entomology at the University of California-Berkeley and so began his long career in teaching, collecting, and research. He became an Assistant Professor in 1916, Associate Professor in 1921, full Professor in 1927, and Emeritus Professor in 1939. He was a charter member of the Pacific Coast Entomological Society and served as its President from 1907-1931 (23 years!).

The great San Francisco earthquake struck in 1906, and the California Academy of Sciences and its collections were severely damaged; the Coleoptera types were saved as were those of Hemiptera and Hymenoptera, but all else was lost, including the library. It was the fire, not the quake, that did the greatest damage, destroying all of the city except the fringe of residences.

Van Dyke collected extensively everywhere he went, including much of the United States, Japan and China, Europe, and Egypt. He was an untiring, careful, and earnest collector. He joined the California Academy of Sciences in 1904 and served for years as Curator of Insects without a salary. Van Dyke’s collection, numbering about 200,000 specimens, and a considerable amount of money were donated to the California Academy of Sciences. He was considered an authority on Scarabaeidae, Lucanidae, Carabidae, Buprestidae, Elateridae, Cerambycidae, Cleridae, Curculionidae, and the insects of Pacific North America.

He was a charter member and Fellow of the Entomological Society of America and the Sierra Club. He published 153 papers between 1892 and 1953.


Essig, E. O. 1953. Edwin Cooper Van Dyke. The Pan-Pacific Entomologist 29: 73-97.


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