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Dwight Isely papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MS-0119

Scope and Content

This collection (1901-1982, undated) contains biographical information, laboratory notebooks, correspondence, published and unpublished works, and interview tapes and transcripts. Records documenting Isely's personal life include Isely’s passport with several stamps from his trips to Panama and other countries in Latin and South America, correspondence to family members and friends, and biographical information which consists of news clippings, articles, dedications, nominations and photographs. The biographical information also includes a brief recollection of Dwight Isely's son, Duane Isely, on his father's professional work and contributions to entomology. Duane Isely conducted several interviews about his father with former students and coworkers (Charles Caviness, Charles Hall, Charles Lincoln, Floyd Miner, Paul Norland, Victor Watts). The collection contains both the transcriptions and original tapes. Isely’s laboratory notebooks, from his time at the University of Kansas as a student, contain Isely's handwritten notes on lectures and drawings of insect dissections. Also included is correspondence in English and Spanish from Isely’s personal and professional life, including correspondence to family and colleagues from his time spent in Panama on a research trip

Records documenting Isely's professional activities include correspondence to colleagues at the University of Arkansas, correspondence about his research, and both published and unpublished writings. The collection contains many of his manuscripts and reports including his published and unpublished works on insect control, teaching entomology, and various orders and families of insects, and drafts. See the appendix at the end of this document for specific titles. Records from his time in Panama and Peru include correspondence, research papers and reports, news clippings, and documents from the Peru Conference on Cotton Insect Control for Servicio Cooperativo Inter-Americano de Producion de Alimentos that Isely attended.


  • 1901-1982, undated

Access Restrictions

Open for research.

Use/Re-use Restrictions

Consult Special Collections and University Archives


Entomologist Dwight Isely was born on a farm near Hiawatha in northern Kansas in 1887. He received his A.B. degree (1910) from Fairmount College (now Wichita State University) and received his Master’s degree (1911-1913) at the University of Kansas. His master's thesis was on solitary wasps. He did graduate work (1913-1914) at Cornell University, New York, on a Schuyler Fellowship.

After his graduate work, he went to work (1914) with the USDA's Bureau of Entomology where he did research on fruit insects and stayed for seven years. He became an Associate Professor of Entomology (1921) at the University of Arkansas and then Associate Director (1951) of the University of Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, where he remained in the administrative position until his retirement in 1953. During his career he went on a U.S. government Institute of Inter American Affairs assignment to Peru to aid in the control of cotton insects (December 1948-February 1949) and he also worked in Panama as Director of the University of Arkansas Agricultural Mission to Panama (1953-1956).

Isely's research activity and publication was continuous for most of his professional life. As an insect biologist and ecologist, he worked on insect pest management including a variety of insect and mite pests of field, forage, fruit and vegetable crops. He strongly believed that as much as possible about an insect's biology and behavior should be used as the basis for control programs. As a cotton entomologist, Isely's research centered on cotton pests including the boll weevil and codling moth. In 1924-1925 he perfected the scouting and spot dusting technique when working on a boll weevil pest management system, and continually advocated using synthetic pesticides only as needed. As a result of this and later work, he has been credited as the father of integrated pest management.

Isely was active on University committees and was influential in the College of Agriculture at the University of Arkansas. He was a member of the American Association of Economic Entomologists, the Entomological Society of America, and a member of Gamma Sigma Delta. He received many awards and citations during his lifetime in honor of his research and service.

He married Blessie Elise Dort (1916) and died December 26, 1974.


9.93 Linear Feet (15 document boxes, 3 half-document boxes, 1 map case folder)

Language of Materials



This collection is organized into four series:

Series 1: Personal, 1901-1979, undated (alphabetical)

Series 2: Professional Correspondence, 1930-1968 (chronological)

Series 3: Panama and Peru Period, 1948-1968, undated (alphabetical)

Series 4: Publications and research, 1912-1965, undated (alphabetical)

Items in related collections

RS 13/5/56. Duane Isely papers, 1938-2000 RS 13/5/11. Charles E. Bessey papers, 1870-1985 MS-0194. Hortense Butler Heywood papers, 1894-1977, undated MS-0411. Charles W. Rutschky papers, 1889-1987, undated

Related collection materials

For a related collection, see the papers of Dwight Isely's son, Duane Isely.

The Special Collections department also holds the papers of other entomologists including Kenneth Carlander (RS 9/10/52), Charles E. Bessey, Hortense Butler Heywood and Charles W. Rutschky.

Processing Information

Released on 2018-11-01.

MS-0119. Dwight Isely papers, 1901-1982, undated
May 20, 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives Repository

403 Parks Library
701 Morrill Road
Iowa State University
Ames Iowa 50011-2102 United States
(515) 294-6672