Anna Botsford Comstock was born on September 1, 1854, in Otto, New York, the United States which is the son of Marvin and Phebe Irish Botsford. She grew up on her parents’ farm in New York and developed an appreciation for the wonders and beauty of the natural world. Since childhood, she and her mother spent time watching wildflowers, birds, and trees in the open field.


Anna met her future husband, John Henry Comstock, a young entomologist when she attended a zoology course at Cornell. They became good friends before finally deciding to get married. In 1878, at the age of 24, she married and since marriage, she increasingly sparked interest in the illustration of insects.


Anna Botsford Comstock Become an Insect illustrator

Her interest made her illustrate the insects that she and her husband had studied, draw thousands of detailed images, first for her husband’s books and then for the books they wrote together.


Harry has been appointed as assistant professor of entomology before they were married, and after their marriage, he was appointed as head of entomology at the USDA. Anna also received a salary from the USDA for writing entomological notes and answers to questions about agriculture.


Anna often described insects for Harry since before their marriage and detailed drawings helped identify the species. Anna finally became an illustrator of natural history based on the popular welcome from her entomological images. In her spare time, she learned how to make carvings to help illustrate her own book and Harry.


After completing her degree in natural history in 1885, she began writing her own book, including The Handbook of Nature Study which is still considered the current standard textbook.


In 1898 she became an assistant professor of natural studies at Cornell and wrote many articles on botany and entomology. She also wrote entomology and zoology texts for adults and children.


Anna Botsford Comstock: First female professor at Cornell University

She has opened new opportunities in the academic world, becoming the first female professor at Cornell University. Anna is also famous for designing the first outdoor space study program for children, which takes science out of class and encourages children’s love for nature.


Her method is a model for natural study programs around the world, helping to foster a new appreciation for the importance of conservation in the next generation. In 1906, she published a novel, Confessions to a Heathen Idol, with a pseudonym and the novel was very successful and in the end, people found that she wrote it so she wrote a sequel using her real name.


In 1923, League of Women Voters chose Comstock as one of the twelve best American women who had contributed the most in their respective fields to the progress of the world. Anna Botsford Comstock died in Ithaca, New York in 1930. In 1988, her name was named after the National Wildlife Federation Fame Conservation Center.


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