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James Bradley was born in West Chester, Pennsylvania in 1884. He showed an early interest in natural history, especially insects, and published his first scientific paper at age 15. He obtained degrees at Cornell University (A.B. 1906, Ph.D. 1910) and the University of California (M.S. 1907). He served as an assistant professor of entomology at Cornell, 1911-1920, and professor and curator of invertebrate zoology, 1920-1952. As a field biology, Bradley joined or led several expeditions ranging from Canada to South America, including the joint Cornell-Harvard transcontinental motor car trip in 1917. He co-authored Insect Life, an insect manual for Boy Scouts, and was chairman of the committee that secured the site for Camp Barton (a Boy Scout camp near Ithaca, New York).