Announcing the First Annual Harold and Laura Greer Lecture
November 20, 2019
On November 20, 2019 Professor Martha Few of Penn State University's history department presented Battling Locust Swarms in Colonial New Spain at the First Annual Harold and Laura Greer Lecture.
Starting in the 1680s and continuing through the 1830s, the archival record shows that locust swarms in the region of what is now Central America and southern Mexico (Chiapas and Oaxaca) intensified in frequency, duration, and geographic scope. Few's research demonstrates the correlation with locust invasions to famine and disease. Her talk brought to life the hopelessness and helplessness that people felt in attempting to eradicate the swarms. Despite the despair, public officials at the time continued to experiment with new methods of extermination, as well as means to diversify and double crop output in the hopes that the locusts would not eat them all. Few's research is on-going, and she noted that there is still much to explore in the archival records.
This event was made possible through the generous support of Harold and Laura Greer, who provided an endowment to establish the Dr. and Mrs. Harold Greer Jr. Distinguished Professorship in Latin American History which also funds an annual lecture focusing on Latin American history.