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Geography at Eastern Washington University Ch a r le s w . b o o t h Emeritus Professor DALE F. STRADLING Professor Department of Geography and Anthropology Eastern Washington University Cheney, WA 99004 G e o g r a p h y HAS b e e n a PROPER school subject at Eastern prob­ ably since the establishment ofthe founding institution, the Benjamin P. Cheney Academy in 1882. Early evidence of the teaching of geography atEastern is conveyed by the 1890-91 Circularofthe State Normal College at Cheney. W.C. Stone, one of the four faculty mentioned in the Circular, taught courses in the sciences and geogra­ phy. From this time until the early 1920s geography was an integral partofthe teacherpreparation curriculum with the number and variety of courses steadily increasing over time. Methods courses in the teaching of geography were required for teaching certification at all 111 112 APCG YEARBOOK • VOLUME 54 • 1992 levels and a major section of the entrance examination for the school itself was devoted to geography. Courses with interesting titles such as “descriptive and physical geography,” “geography, mathematical and physical,” and “geography review” were taught by a faculty of one or two, and most often by historians or physical science teachers. One of those historians was Ceylon S. Kingston, a renowned member of Eastern’s faculty. Beginning his career in 1903, he was still professionally active when both authors of this report were students during the early 1950s. As state teacher certification requirements changed in the early 1900s, so did the character of the institution. The number of faculty increased and gradually somesubjects, including geography, achieved the status of departments. The curriculum was organized to serve the needs of future teachers of geography in elementary grades 4 through 8, where geography’s importance was as self-evident as reading and writing. Transition The middle to late 1920s was an important transitional period for geography. With the hiring ofOtis W. Freeman in 1924, the discipline of geography began to emerge as a subject of importance beyond teacher preparation. Freeman was an industrious, pragmatic person. His brusque manner in personnel relations, reflective of his fieldwork style of sweeping away the overburden to get at the stratigraphy, eventually caused him considerable administrative trouble. He had authored sixteen articles in various journals prior to his employment at Eastern and 63 more by the time he ended his career. In addition, he authored, coauthored, oredited eleven books, mostly on the Pacific Northwest or the Pacific, during his tenure at Eastern. He went on academic leave in 1928 to complete his Ph.D. atClark University. By 1930, after his return, twenty courses were being taught, many of which were regional in character. The Great Depression severely affected the school, with teachers being issued script for their pay. By 1932, Freeman was the only instructor of the twenty-course geogra­ phy curriculum. He also supervised the forty-credit geography major, BOOTH & STRADLING: Geography at Eastern Washington 113 which was the nucleus for the eventual establishment of geography in both the education and liberal arts degrees at the school. His belief in “doing geography whereit is” resulted in numerous fieldtrip caravans around the West. Many scenes from these trips were captured in his extensive glass lantern slide collection, which survives as part of the Freeman archive at Eastern. In 1935, Freeman contributed to the developing professionalism of geography in the West by contacting numerous West Coast geographers to convene at the U.C.L.A. campus in June 1935. He solicited papers and 21 were given on June 26 and 27 followed by a field trip. At this meeting the Association of Pacific Coast Geogra­ phers (APCG) was organized and Otis Freeman was elected the first president as well as becoming acting editor for Volume 1oftheAPCG Yearbook. He retained the editorship for four more years through Volume 5. Volume 48 (1986) ofthisjournal contains statements from several of the 44 charter members of the APCG, including those in attendance at that first meeting. The attempt to overcome West Coast as well as local isolation was a success and by 1940 there were over 120 members in the APCG. Pacific Northwest geography showed a new...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1551-3211
Print ISSN
0066-9628
Pages
pp. 111-120
Launched on MUSE
2014-10-01
Open Access
No
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