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Frank Morton Jones (1869-1962)

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Obituary by Frank A. McDermott (1963), published in Entomological News 74: 29-37.

Dr. Frank Morton Jones died at his home in Wilmington, Delaware, on the afternoon of Tuesday, May 22, 1962. Although unable to be active for[Frank Morton Jones] the last few years, he retained his keen interest in entomology until the end. Biological science is the poorer for his passing.

Born in Wilmington, Delaware, on January 13, 1869, the son of Joseph Jones and Deborah Hodgson Jones, Dr. Jones devoted a long and happy lifetime to various phases of entomology, specializing in Lepidoptera, largely the Microlepidoptera and particularly the Psychidae. Insectivorous plants, adaptive coloration, selection of insect food by birds, and many other phases of the subject were studied by him, always with profit to the sum of knowledge. One of his last studies was the determination of the insects being brought as food for the young by parent house wrens, as shown in strobe pictures taken by Mr. Crawford H. Greenewalt.

But his knowledge was far from being limited to entomology—he was a naturalist in the broad sense of being widely familiar with not only the local plants and animals, their habits, habitats, ecology, and lives, but with the world wide spectrum of life which his Psychid studies in particular brought to him. His summer home on Martha's Vineyard Island was a continued delight to him as long as he was able to get there. Dr. Jones' work on the pitcher plants, embraced in sixteen papers of which he was either the author, the co-author, or was associated with the research is of particular scientific interest, and evidences the thoroughness with which he pursued his studies. Beginning in the 1880s, Dr. Jones made collecting trips [that] took him into almost every state in the Union; particularly noteworthy was a two-month' journey in 1918 to California and Alaska .On a trip to Bermuda, Dr. Jones collected the first member of the orthopteran genus Paroxya, the type specimen now being in the collection of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. After a visit to London on the occasion of his presentation of a paper before the Royal Entomological Society, Dr. and Mrs. Jones took a tour through Western Europe and Switzerland.

Memberships in scientific societies included the American Association for the Advancement of Science (Member 1911; Fellow 1930); the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, where he was a Research Associate in entomology; the New York Entomological Society; the Entomological Society of America (Charter Member 1906; Fellow 1946); the American Entomological society; the Ecological Society; and in 1932, he was made a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society of London. He was also a member of the Botanical Society of Pennsylvania.

In his own state, Dr. Jones was one of the founders of the Society of Natural History of Delaware in 1891, and one of the incorporators in 1919, and the guiding spirit of that Society of over 60 years. He was the last surviving Charter Member. He served as President from 1928 to 1941, and the directors of the Society unanimously elected him Prseident Emeritus in 1941. As President he arranged for several special features at the meetings, and four, in 1902, 1919, 1936, and 1953, were devoted to the periodical cicada under his interesting direction.

Aside from his scientific attainments, he was a member of the Board of Managers of the Wilmington Institute Free Library from 1921 to 1951, and on his resignation was elected an honorary member of the Board. Hew was also a member of the Board of Directors of the Wilmington Savings Fund Society from 1933 to 1942. Business connections occupied his attention from 1886 to 1914, first in the John G. Baker Co. and its successors, and after 1900 in the Hilles and Jones co., of which he was Treasurer until his retirement in 1914 to devote his time to scientific interests.

In 1931, the University of Delaware conferred on him the honorary degree of Doctor of Science, in recognition of his work in entomology and other fields.

Always gracious with his time to help and advise others, he has been an inspiration to many, and his wide contacts brought him recognition as an authority from many lands. His fund of anecdotes and humorous experiences was apparently inexhaustible, the product of a long and generally quiet but active life. His life long association with the late Robert R. Tatnall was characteristic of his friendships. In 1946, there was a reception at Dr. Jones' home in honor of Dr. Tatnall on the publication of his "Flora of Delaware and the Eastern Shore," in which there are nine photographs taken by Dr. Jones.

Dr. Jones was a very competent photographer, both for direct views and in photography through a microscope. He was also an excellent draftsman, and many of his scientific papers are illustrated with his own drawings and photographs.

In 1900, Dr. Jones married Linda B. Palmer, who, as Mrs. Jones, served the Society of Natural History of Delaware as Secretary from 1903 to 1928 and as Assistant Secretary for two prior years. For more than half a century, Mrs. Jones as a constant source of understanding assistance and inspiration to Dr. Jones, and a genial hostess to their many prominent scientific visitors. Mrs. Jones died in November, 1961.

Feeling that his extensive library and collections should be placed where they would be of use to future students, he gave the bulk of them to the Peabody Museum of Yale University in 1954. The Museum has designated his books as the Jones Entomological Library, and a special book plate showing a pitcher plant and a bagworm was designed for them. In addition to this, sets of periodicals and a large collection of Lepidoptera were given to the University of Delaware. A collection of Nantucket Heterocera and numerous specimens of Orthoptera collected during his travels were given to the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. A large collection of Microlepidoptera was presented to the Smithsonian Institution (see Entomological News, 1956, Vol 67, p. 217). This gift was subsequently enlarged by a contribution in aid of research at the Smithsonian Institution on the Psychidae, including the use of his fine Spencer binocular microscope.

At least one species of plant and several new species of insects have been named for Dr. Jones, and one for Mrs. Jones.

Click here for a list of publications by Frank Morton Jones.

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