[Iag-list] Geoffrey Martin on the history of geography

Brendan Whyte obiwonfive at hotmail.com
Mon Jan 30 15:53:56 AEDT 2017

Geoffrey Martin's 2015 book on the history of our discipline in the US "American geography and geographers toward geographical science" was the subject of a presentation by Martin to the Washington Map Society on 21 Jan 2016.

A written version of the presentation, discussing the making of the book, has just been published in the society's journal:

Martin, Geoffrey, "On the history of writing he book...American geography and geographers toward geographical science", The Portolan: issue 96, Fall 2016, pp.29-38.

A fascinating article, it mentions Himmler; the banning of Griffith Taylor's books in Australia; the discovery in a Honolulu archive of the identity of the Yale graduate who was the first female PhD in geography in the US (Yale had no idea!); the burning of personal archives; a lament at email replacing real letters, especially between academics; geographers being the single largest group persecuted by Senator McCarthy; and the astounding 1500-mile walking seminar of 1911, in which academic geographers walked in twos or threes from Liverpool to the International Geographical Congress in Rome, over 10 weeks, an average of 22 miles per day, on foot, discussing what they say along the way*.

Very interesting reading even if you haven't read the book itself.

* The king of Italy himself sent a note to the walkers that reached them at Lucerne, to say that the congress was cancelled due to war between Italy and Turkey., so the walkers continued on only as far as Milan.

This 1911 European expedition was followed in 1912 by a 57-day 20,000 km AGS Transcontinental Excursion by private train. Try to get that past a university budget committee today...

Brendan Whyte

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