Fall was Californias first
resident to make significant contributions to the study of the
states beetles, inspiring future generations of coleopterists,
including E. C. Van Dyke and F. E. Blaisdell. Born in Farmington,
New Hampshire on Christmas Day, Fall received his Bachelor of
Science (1884) and honorary Doctor of Science (1929) from Dartmouth.
Prompted by ill health, Fall moved to southern California in
1889 after a brief stint teaching high school mathematics in
Chicago. He taught at Pomona High School (1892-1896) and later
at Pasadena High School 1896-1917, where he served as the head
of the science department.
Inspired by a visit from G. H. Horn in 1893, Fall soon began
publishing scientific article on beetles. His papers included
revisions of various beetle families and lists of species known
from the California Channel Islands, southern California, New
Mexico, and Alaska. He described nearly 1,500 new species of
North American beetles, including 37 new genera. His meticulous
study of the literature, the LeConte and Horn types, and all
available material resulted in the description of very few synonyms.
His 144th, and last publication, appeared in 1937.
After retiring from teaching in 1917, Fall moved to Tyngsboro,
Massachusetts to live with his sister and her husband in the
former home of Frederick Blanchard. He continued to publish,
curate, and identify specimens sent to him for determination
almost until his death on November 17, 1939. He was buried in
At the time of his death, Fall had assembled what was up to
that time the finest private beetle collection in North America.
Reported to contain 200,000 specimens representing 20,000 species,
his collection now resides appropriately next to those of LeConte
and Horn in the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University.
Information courtesy of Art Evans.