Longfield–Roberts Collection: The entomological library of Cynthia Longfield (1896–1991)
Cynthia Longfield (1896–1991) was an independent scientist, specialising in dragonflies (Odonata). She travelled extensively throughout the world in the course of her research.
She was part of the St George Scientific Expedition that sailed to the Pacific in 1924, having already travelled extensively with friends. Her collection of memorabilia from the 1924 St George expedition is held by the Academy Library, and includes personal diaries, news-cuttings and photographs. She subsequently went on a variety of other research expeditions in Asia, Africa, Canada and South America. One six-month research trip to East Africa in 1934 was undertaken alone. She later returned to Africa with a colleague.
Cynthia Longfield worked in the British Museum as an unpaid associate for over 30 years. She was the Museum’s Odonata expert. She retired to her family’s native Cork in 1956.
In 1979 she donated her library (books, notes and ephemera) to the Royal Irish Academy Library. The collection is known as the ‘Longfield-Roberts’ collection. The book collection mainly consists of books on entomology and natural history published in the twentieth century, with a few older items. Her unpublished notes and correspondence are catalogued in the Academy’s online manuscripts catalogue. There are 36 files (RIA/LRC/1–36).
The Academy library also holds a large quantity Odonata offprints sent to Cynthia Longfield by researchers throughout Europe and beyond. Her collection of offprints of entomological research papers provides evidence for the extent of her international research network in the mid-twentieth century. A list of authors whose offprints she collected is available.
Cynthia Longfield’s book collection is catalogued in the Academy library’s main online catalogue while her unpublished papers are catalogued in the online manuscripts catalogue. She presented her private Odonata collection to the National Museum of Ireland.
- Byrne, Patricia, ‘Longfield, Cynthia Evelyn’, in Royal Irish Academy, Dictionary of Irish Biography Longfield, Cynthia Evelyn | Dictionary of Irish Biography (dib.ie)
- Jane Hayter-Haymes, Madam Dragonfly: the life and times of Cynthia Longfield (Edinburgh, 1991)
- James P. O’Connor, ‘Natural history collections’, in Bernadette Cunningham & Siobhán Fitzpatrick (eds), Treasures of the Royal Irish Academy Library (Dublin, 2009), 105–16
1 June 2021