The Faculty History Project documents faculty members who have been associated with the University of Michigan since 1837. Key in this effort is to celebrate the intellectual life of the University. This Faculty History Website is intended as a component of the effort to document the extraordinary academic achievements of Michigan’s faculty in building and sustaining one of the world’s great universities. It provides access to a comprehensive database of information concerning the thousands of faculty members who have served the University of Michigan.
Find out more.

The Bentley Historical Library serves as the official archives for the University.


Frank Nelson Blanchard
The Michigan Alumnus 81


Frank Nelson Blanchard, 
 Ph.D. ‘19

An appreciation by Harley H. Bartlett, 
 Professor of Botany

By the death of Associate Professor Frank N. Blanchard, on
 September 21, 1937, the University of 
Michigan has lost one of its most produc
tive investigators and effective teachers. 
 Blanchard graduated at Tufts College 
in 1913, taught at Massachusetts Agri
cultural College from 1913 to 1916, 
took his doctorate (as President Ruthven's first doctoral candidate) in 1919, 
served on the staff of the U.S. National 
Museum in Washington in 1918-19, 
returned to Michigan as Instructor in 
Zoology in 1919, was made Assistant
 Professor in 1926, and Associate Professor in 1934. His research on snakes
 and amphibians had won him a place
 among the thousand leaders in Ameri
can science, in recognition of which his
 name will be '"starred" in the forth-
coming edition of the biographical directory "American Men of Science." 

Few teachers ever have so devoted a
 student following as Blanchard had. 
 One, who has himself become a dis
tinguished zoologist, expressed the feeling of many others whose letters have
 come to Mrs. Blanchard in the last 
few weeks. He said, "... I cannot express what Dr. Blanchard meant to me 
both as a teacher and as a friend. . . .
In the year which I spent in Ann Arbor 
he did more than any other man to 
mould my viewpoint and to improve 
my work. The painstaking, accurate
 manner in which he assembled and 
scrutinized his own data so impressed 
me that I have not published a paper 
since leaving Ann Arbor without doing
 additional work upon it in the hope 
that Dr. Blanchard would find it satisfactory. In my experience really stimulating professors have been few enough
 and of these only two or three have
 shared Dr. Blanchard's ability to en
gender lasting affection and admiration 
in his students. I know that I shall
 miss his advice and counsel as long as
 I live. I am equally certain that my 
bibliography will be shorter, and the
 quality of my work better because of 
the training that he gave me. Every 
one of his advanced students will have 
a similar sense of thankfulness. ..."
Not only his advanced students, for 
many of those who just took an ele
mentary course with him have written 
equally heartfelt tributes to his quali
ties as teacher and friend. One, who
 was his student and also his assistant, 
 wrote: "Dr. Blanchard has become al
most a symbol for me. . . . Some of the 
happiest and most lasting impressions
 of my years at Ann Arbor are due to 
Dr. Blanchard and I've always looked
forward to seeing him when I dropped 
in in later years. . . . He has always
 been so kind, genuine, and sincere. He 
has a humour all his own. ..."

Among older professional colleagues 
who were never Blanchard's students, 
one of the leaders in his field wrote: 
"We have lost a true friend, and Amer
ican herpetology its foremost student."
 Another herpetologist said: "Besides 
our appreciation of him as a worker in
 Science, we have appreciated him as a 
personal friend, and I know that this 
feeling among those near his own age
 was shared in even greater degree by 
the students who had worked with 

Such a record of work and influence 
is a man's best monument, and Blan
chard's will stand, as one of his students said, so long as one of them is 
left alive, or exerts an effect upon his
 own followers.