The Comstocks of Cornell is the autobiography written by the naturalist educator Anna Botsford Comstock about her life and that of her husband, the entomologist John Henry Comstock – both prominent figures in the scientific community and in Cornell University history.
A first edition was published in 1953, but it omitted key Cornellians, historical anecdotes, and personal insights. In this twenty-first-century edition, Karen Penders St. Clair restores the author's voice by reconstructing the entire manuscript as Anna Comstock wrote it – and thereby preserves Comstock's memories of the personal and professional lives of the couple as she originally intended. The book includes an epilogue documenting the Comstocks' last years and fills in gaps from the 1953 edition. Described as serious legacy work, this book is an essential part of the history of both Cornell University and its press.
Karen Penders St. Clair is an independent researcher and holds a position in the School of Integrated Plant Science and Horticulture at Cornell University.
"Currently an independent scholar based in Rochester, New York, St. Clair hopes the upcoming volume will give readers a better sense of what Anna was truly like, beyond the familiar tropes of her status as Cornell's first female professor, a leading scientific illustrator, and an early advocate of nature education."
– Cornell Alumni Magazine
"Karen Penders St. Clair's masterful recovery of Anna Botsford Comstock's personal voice corrects a historical injustice. It also bestows a gift to us all as we hear and learn from a woman of great warmth and wisdom in her full humanity."
– Scott J. Peters, Cornell University
"Anna Botsford Comstock's voice has been returned to her in this carefully edited and amended edition of her memoir of her husband John Comstock, her observations of life around her, and of Cornell University during its early days. Anna Comstock was Cornell student, scientific illustrator, wife, mother of Nature Studies, Cornell faculty woman, and one of the three most admired female citizens of the world she inhabited. Her words return us to a different world and are worth attending."
Carol Kammen, Tompkins County Historian