Elwood Curtin Zimmerman (1912–2004) was born in Spokane, Washington, in the United States and was a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and the University of London. In 1934 he took part in a scientific expedition to Polynesia and two years later he was appointed as an assistant entomologist at the Bernice P. Bishop Museum at Honolulu. For a few years he also lectured at the University of Hawaii. He remained with the Bishop Museum as an entomologist and research associate until 1973. In that year he emigrated to Australia and became a senior research fellow with the CSIRO Division of Entomology in Canberra, a position that he held until 1983. In his later years he lived near Merimbula, New South Wales.
Zimmerman was the author of over 200 scientific papers, but is best known as the author of two multi-volume works
Insects of Hawaii (8 volumes, 1948–58)
Australian Weevils (5 volumes, 1991–94)
Eight volumes of Australian weevils were planned, but volumes 4, 7 and 8 were not published. Zimmerman worked on the classification of about 6000 weevil species for 22 years. For 12 of those years he was unpaid and, although the work was published by CSIRO, Zimmerman had to sell his farm and family heirlooms in order to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the publication. He received the CSIRO Special Medal in 1995.
The Zimmerman Collection was purchased by the Library from Zimmerman in 1974.
The Zimmerman Collection comprises about 600 books and 66 serials (about 2000 volumes) mainly relating to entomology and the natural sciences generally. There is a particular strength in works on British entomology, while most of the remaining works relate to insects of Europe, North America and South America. About one-third of the books were published in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Among the many rare works in the collection are the following:
Barth, Johann Matthaeus, De culice dissertatio (1737)
Curtis, John, British Entomology (16 vols, 1823–40)
Dumeril, André Marie Constant, Considerations generales sur la classe des insects (1823)
Ehrenberg, Christian Gottfried, Symbolae physicae (4 vols, 1828–45)
Fallen, Carolo Fr., Diptera Sveciae (2 vols in 1, 1814–27)
Jeffreys, John Gwyn, British Conchology, or an Account of the Mollusca which Now Inhabit the British Isles and the Surrounding Seas (5 vols, 1862–69)
Linne, Carl von, Fauna svecica, sistens animalia Sveciae regni (1761)
Muller, Otto Frederik, Zoologiae danicae prodromus (1776)
Panzer, Georg Wolfgang Franz, Faunae insectorum Germanicae initia, oder, Deutschlands Insecton (2 vols, 1793–1813)
De Geer, Charles, De Geer: Genera et species insectorum (1783)
Rondani, Camillo, Genera Italica: ordinis Dipterorum (1856)
Rossi, Pietro, Fauna etrusca (2 vols in 1, 1790)
Schrank, Franz von Paula, Enumeratio insectorum Austriae indigenorum (1781)
Schrank, Franz von Paula, Fauna Boica (3 vols, 1798–1803)
Scopoli, Giovanni Antonio, Entomologia carniolica exhibens insecta Carnioliae indigena et distribute in ordines, genera, species, varietates (1763)
Yeats, Thomas Pattinson (transl.), Institutions of Entomology, Being a Translation of Linnaeu’s ordines et genera insectorum (1773)
Zetterstedt, Johan Wilhelm, Diptera Scandinaviae: disposita et descripta (14 vols in 7, 1842–60).
The book written by Scopoli was the first entomological work to use the Linnaean system.
Among the European periodicals in the collection are:
Berliner Entomologische Zeitschrift (vols 1–55, 1857–1911)
Bulletin of Entomological Research (Farnham Royal) (vols 1–40, 1910–49)
Entomologisk Tidskrift (Stockholm) (vols 1–32, 1880–1912)
Entomological Magazine (London) (vols 1–5, 1833–38)
Linnaea Entomologica, (Berlin) (vols 1–12, 1846–58)
Natural History Review (Dublin) (12 vols, 1854–65)
Naturhistorisk Tidsskrift (Copenhagen) (vols 1–6, 1837–49)
Tijdschrift voor Entomologie, (Amsterdam) (vols 1–55, 1858–1912)
Wiener Entomologische Zeitung (Vienna) (vols 1–30, 1882–1911).
The books and journals in the Zimmerman Collection have been integrated into the Rare Books and general collections. They have been catalogued individually.
In 1974, with the agreement of Dr Zimmerman, 55 monographs and 16 serial titles were transferred on extended loan to the CSIRO Black Mountain Library. Three books were later returned.
Hay, Ashley, Zimmerman’s Crusade, The Independent (Sydney), September 1995, pp. 10–11, 14–15.
Mussared, David, Dr Zimerman: A Passion for Weevil, Canberra Times, 22 February 1995, p. 5.