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UMaine Today Magazine

University of Maine Foundation

A pioneer in the field

Edith Marion Patch
Edith Marion Patch

Photo courtesy of
Fogler Library Special Collections

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Edith Marion Patch was hired in 1903 to establish an entomology department for the Maine Agricultural Experiment Station at The University of Maine. As one of the few female entomologists of her day, her appointment met with considerable criticism from skeptics who scoffed that she would not be able to climb a tree or catch a grasshopper.

It took only a year a year in which she worked without salary to clearly demonstrate her worth as a lab and field scientist.

In 1904, she was officially appointed head of UMaine's Entomology Department, a position she held for more than 30 years. She earned a master's from UMaine in 1910; her Ph.D. from Cornell the following year.

Patch became a world-renowned expert on aphids. She was consulted by agricultural agencies, academic institutions, and commercial growers in Maine and around the world.

She was elected the first woman president of the Entomological Society of America in 1930, and was nationally recognized for her nature writing for children and the general public.

Patch was a generation ahead of Rachel Carson in promoting ecological awareness and warning about unrestricted use of chemical pesticides.

Patch retired from the University in 1937. She died in 1954 at the age of 78.

The Patch home, built around 1840, is among UMaine's oldest buildings and one of the state's important women's history sites. A volunteer group, Friends of Dr. Edith M. Patch, has established an endowment fund at the University of Maine Foundation to renovate the home and establish the Edith Marion Patch Center for Entomology, the Environment and Education. For more information on The Edith Marion Patch Center Fund, contact the University of Maine Foundation, 207-947-5100.


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