Thomas Say   1787-1834

say.jpg (15485 bytes)

Thomas Say in the uniform of the
first Long Expedition (1819).
Oil portrait by Charles W. Peale.


Thomas Say was an explorer, pioneering natural scientist, and a founder of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. In the early nineteenth century, Say was successful in founding the science of entomology and conchology in the United States. He wrote the first book published in America on insects, American Entomology (1824-1828). In 1817 Say went on an expedition to Spanish-controlled Florida and the sea islands off the coast of Georgia. In 1819 he became the first trained scientist to accompany a government-sponsored expedition to the west when he joined Stephen H. Long's expedition to the Rocky Mountains. As a result of these explorations, Say described many new species of scarab beetles, as well as hundreds of other insects. He devoted his life to establishing natural science in the United States as an institution deserving of international respect.


Stroud, P. T. 1992. Thomas Say. New World Naturalist. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia. 340 pp.


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University of Nebraska-Lincoln State Museum - Division of Entomology