Morris A. Stewart Siphonaptera Collection


Dr. Morris Albion Stewart (1902-1961) came to the University of California in 1935. After receiving his Ph.D. at Cornell in 1929, Dr. Stewart spent a few years teaching at the University of Rochester, followed by a few more at the Rice Institute in Houston, Texas. His first position with U.C. was at the Davis campus. He then transferred to Berkeley during WWII. His early duties included courses in human parasitology, helminthology, and one in general parasitology taught in the Naval School of Tropical Medicine, then located on the Berkeley campus.

Fairly early during his tenure at the University of California, Dr. Stewart’s activities took an administrative turn. He was appointed Assistant Dean of the Graduate Division in 1946 and full Dean in 1956. Despite these extradepartmental responsibilities, he continued to play an active role in teaching medical entomology and parasitology, and is due much credit for the growth of the program during that time. Dr. Stewart always maintained an interest in the systematics of fleas (Siphonaptera), though this is only a small part of his legacy. He also maintained an active research program which, among other accomplishments, led to an understanding of rodent fleas’ role in maintaining plague in California and established groundwork for our knowledge of myiasis in man and livestock.

The Collection

The Stewart Siphonaptera collection was accessioned by the Essig Museum upon Dr. Stewart’s death in 1961, now making up essentially our entire holdings of Siphonaptera. It comprises approximately 5400 slide-mounted specimens almost entirely identified to the species level. The collection is worldwide in scope, with parts of Asia and Africa unusually well-represented. For many North American species there exist large holdings representing multiple hosts and localities. The collection contains some of Stewart’s holotype specimens as well as many paratypes of his and other workers.

Selected bibliography

Stewart, M.A., 1930. New Nearctic Siphonaptera. The Canadian Entomologist 62: 175-180.
Stewart, M.A., 1939. Present Knowledge of the Status of Vectors of Sylvatic Plague in North America. Proceedings of the Sixth Pacific Science Congress 4: 433-437.
Stewart, M.A., 1940. New Siphonaptera from California. Pan-Pacific Entomologist 16: 17-28.

Biographical Information taken from

Furman, D.P., 1962. Morris Albion Stewart (1912-1962). Pan-Pacific Entomologist 38(1): 71-72.