{This article was originally published in the 1986 annual report of the IORI. It was edited for the OIN by Bill Mauffray, March 1995.}


In the Editorial of the first issue of Odonatologica (March, 1972) it was stated that "the relations between six hundred people interested in dragonflies and scattered over more than fifty countries of the Globe, are like a wide-mazed network of thin blood vessels". It is now more than 50 years ago that, during the Seventh International Congress of Entomology (Berlin, 1938), Drs. MAURITS ANNE LIEFTINCK, CESARE NIELSEN, ERICH SCHMIDT and DOUGLAS ST. QUENTIN made the first attempt to bring some coordination in this system. Their first, though informal "odonatological colloquium" had a considerable stimulating impact on their subsequent work, therefore similar gatherings were organized by Lieftinck and St. Quentin also in the framework of the Amsterdam (1951) and Vienna (1960) International Congresses of Entomology. In Japan Dr. SYOZIRO ASAHINA went his own way and succeeded in bringing together the numerous workers of that country in a formal society centered around his quarterly Tombo - Acta Odonatologica, the first odonatological periodical, that started publication in 1958. It was, however, the late Professor BASIL ELWOOD MONTGOMERY who fully understood the paramount importance of direct personal communication and of a certain amount of coordination among the workers. His Selysia (since 1963) and his Purdue Odonatological Colloquia (1963, 1966) triggered the idea of setting up a worldwide odonatological society. This materialized on October 22-23, 1971, during the First European Symposium of Odonatology in Ghent, Belgium, where the SIO and Odonatologica were born. The Charter Meeting was chaired by Professor FRANCOIS SCHALLER.

No blood vessel system can function without a powerful heart, and Dr. ZANDIS DAVIDOVICH SPURIS in his Open Letter to the Ghent Symposium was the first to launch the idea of an "International Odonatological Documentation Center". His suggestion has ever since occupied the minds of many of us. While the SIO "family" and its organizational structures and activities have grown rapidly, the scope and tasks of such a Center were defined and redefined countless times until in August 1981 Professor MINTER WESTFALL, Jr. presented a formal, specified outline in the Plenary Business Meeting at the Sixth International Symposium in Chur, Switzerland, during the celebration of SIO's tenth anniversary.

In this outline, approved by the SI0 Executive Board in their last-minute meeting in the library of the Natural History Museum in Chur, Professor Westfall did not dwell too long on the financial aspects of the venture. At that stage the Executive Board did not consider it opportune to lay undue emphasis, in the Business Meeting, on financial "uncertainties", they were of the opinion that an extensive discussion of this subject could easily frustrate all further planning at the most crucial initial stage. The philosophy prevailing in the Executive Board was largely identical to that underlying the initiation of SI0 itself, ten years earlier: "Let us start, even If it has to be without means, and we shall definitely manage somehow. A very modest start is better than none at all and, in view of our lack of experience with management and administration of a permanent institute, is probably even better than starting immediately with a fully- fledged Institute". The financial aspects were left to be tackled by the Preparatory Committee to be appointed, while the initial statement primarily highlighted the general importance of a "Center", and gave a brief outline of its organizational scheme, scope and tasks. Presented in this way, the project was immediately received with overwhelming enthusiasm by the membership, and Minter and myself were asked to work out the details and report to the 1983 Symposium in Calgary, Canada.

Our task was not easy, but it was most pleasant to let our imagination fly freely. We were well aware of the financial limitations and technical difficulties, but our ultimate goal was clear: SI0 should develop a permanent, International Odonata Research Institute, harboring our large library, our archives, a world collection, our central editorial offices, providing research facilities to workers in any field of ODONATOLOGY and rendering (paid) services to museums, governmental institutions, universities and individuals requiring them. It should be organized and run in a similar way to institutions sponsored by such illustrious organizations as e.g. the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC or the German Oriental Society. Without financial means, the way to the goal described is inevitably long, and in our "day-dreaming" we have started at the end. In Casa d'Uors - Marianne's and my Swiss home, where Minter and Margaret stayed during the Chur Symposium, we had the sketch of the Center's building ready on August 26, 1981. Professors PHILIP S. CORBET, ANGELO B.M. MACHADO, JEAN-GUY PILON, GORDON PRITCHARD and JANNY M. VAN BRINK were also our guests during the symposium and have contributed their ideas. [The original idea was to construct a building in Gainesvile FL on land secured by the then existing officials of the SIO…and it was to be flanked by a separate dormitory building with a capacity sufficient to house up to 4 guest research workers for any length of time.]

Minter took the drawing to Gainesville and had the costs estimated by an expert. The price for the 3360 sq. ft. building of the Institute would amount (early September 1981) to about US $ 35-40 - per sq. ft, meaning a total of some US $ 117,000 to 135,000. This of course could only be realized with the help of some benefactors. Unfortunately, these are few and far between, and none[were] known to us. This being so, it was clear that we had to find other ways. Unexpectedly soon Minter came up with the plan to set up our Institute within the newly created (Florida) Center for Arthropod Systematics. This would allow an immediate start. In exchange for our services, we would be given free housing and various kinds of facilities, while retaining the freedom to move out to our own premises as soon as we would be financially able to do so. It was an opportunity we could not afford to miss. On August 20, 1985, in one of their meetings during the Eighth International Symposium of Odonatology in Paris, the SI0 Council agreed on a 'Memorandum of Understanding" with the Florida State Collection of Arthropods, relative to the foundation of our Institute, and authorized Professor M. J. Westfall, Dr. S. W. Dunkle and Dr. G. H. Bick to sign on behalf of the Society. They did so upon Minter's return to Gainesville in September 1985, and the Institute was formally opened on January 28, 1986. the 70th birthday of its first Director. In November 1986 (filed on December 5, 1986) the Institute was registered under the laws of the State of Florida as an "Incorporation not for Profit".

The SI0, thus, has a home now. It is but very small and modest and it is not yet able to fulfill all the tasks of the powerful heart of a worldwide society. However, we are firmly convinced that it will grow rapidly with SI0. Its work and vitality will depend entirely on the support and enthusiasm of each and everyone of the 600 SI0 members. We have never received, nor have we appealed for any external help or assistance, but as a non-profit organization we welcome even the smallest support and help from "within", from anyone who is in a position to donate anything. I would therefore like to conclude this Foreword to the first Annual Report with an appeal to all readers for moral and material help. The Director and the General Manager of the Institute, as well as the SI0 Central Office in Bilthoven, The Netherlands, will always be glad to provide details and/or any other Information required.

  • S.I.O Central Office, P.O. Box 256,
  • 3720 AG Bilthoven, The Netherlands

As announced in Selysia 15(1985): 7:10, the International Odonata Research Institute (IORI) was established in Gainesville, Florida, U.S.A. in September 1985, and officially opened in January 1986. The IORI provides a place where persons interested in questions related to dragonflies and damselflies may find answers to those questions in person, by mail, by phone, and by e-mail. The IORI provides study space, collections, library, and archives for research on Odonata.


We are operating in facilities generously provided by the Florida Division of Plant Industry in a large substantial brick building. While the area we occupy is relatively small, we do have research desks and microscopes, a library, a collection, and archives. We also have many other benefits, at no cost to IORI, by being in the facilities of the Florida State Collection of Arthropods (FSCA), such as: The large FSCA Odonata Collection, fumigation, automatic fire protection, security protection, and water, electricity, temperature control, telephone, and restrooms. In addition, expert taxonomists on other insect and arachnid groups are available for consultation, as is the Division of Plant Industry Library, which has extensive holdings on insect taxonomy. The IORI curates the Odonata collection of the FSCA in return for the use of these facilities.

In 2004 the McGuire Lepidoptera Center was completed next door to the DPI complex. All of the Lepidoptera specimens that shared physical storage space within the Odonata section of the collection were moved over to that facility freeing up valuable space to expand the Odonata collection. A NSF grant was obtained and an entire double bank of cabinets was obtained doubling the drawer space for Odonata.

During the re-organization and expansion of the FSCA collection into the new drawers, it was decided to incorporate the IORI specimens within the FSCA collection since it was redundant to maintain two separate collections next to each other.

At the end of 2010 the FSCA Odonata collection was one of the largest curated collections in the world:

·        1488 drawers consisting of 17856 unit trays (3.6” x 5.6”) housing an estimated 450,000 specimens

·        94% Identified to species and stored in either poly or cellophane envelopes with data cards. Less then 1/10 of 1% pinned.

·        60,000 databased to specimen level.

·        18,000 vials of alcohol specimens including larva, reared specimens, and teneral specimens {includes the 6000 vial Ken Tennessen collection)

·        Extensive library of Odonata literature and books, separate from that of the main library


There is speculation that the Odonata collection may be moved yet into larger quarters in a new building yet to be constructed adjacent to the present facility. A public live Odonata display may be part of the plans also.


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