Fernald, Charles H.
Zoology, Experiment Station, 1885-1910
President, Mass. Agricultural College, 1891-1892
Director, Graduate School, 1908-1912
b. March 16, 1838, Mt. Desert, Maine
d. Feb. 22, 1921, Amherst, Mass.
Born on March 16, 1838, in Mt. Desert, Maine, Charles H. Fernald entered the Maine Wesleyan Seminary at the age of 21 with the intention of becoming a sea captain. Before completing his degree, however, he volunteered for duty in the Union Navy, and while serving, Fernald managed to complete a bachelors degree at Bowdoin College.
After returning to civilian life, Fernald worked for several years as a principal of the Litchfield and Houlton Academies, but he continued to pursue academic work. Following receipt of an MA from Bowdoin in 1871, Fernald was appointed Professor of Natural History at Maine State College, where he remained for fifteen years before accepting a position at the Massachusetts Agricultural College in 1886 as Professor of Zoology.
Fernald was a significant figure in the development of scientific research at MAC. In addition to his course load in natural history and lectures in veterinary science, Fernald was appointed entomologist of the new Agricultural Experiment Station in 1887, holding that position until his retirement in 1910. His research on the gypsy moth, which had recently become a destructive invasive species in Massachusetts, and his energetic work on campus and at the Experiment Station, helped establish MAC as one of the preeminent places in the northeast to study entomology.
During his tenure in Amherst, he held several key administrative posts as well, including President of the College (1891-1892) and first Director of the Graduate School (1908-1912). Insects ran in Fernald's family: his wife Maria (Smith) Fernald, whom he married in 1862, studied Tortricid and Torneid moths, and his son Henry Torsey Fernald joined the faculty at Massachusetts Agricultural College, becoming the first chair of the Department of Entomology in 1899. Charles H. Fernald died on February 22, 1921.
After Fernald's death in 1921, the new (1910) Entomology and Zoology building was named Fernald Hall in honor of Charles H. Fernald.
See Capinera, John L., ed., Encyclopedia of Entomology, 2nd ed. Springer Science: Dordrecht, 2008.