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Geography at the University of Oregon Ed w a r d t . Pr ic e Emeritus Professor, Department of Geography University of Oregon Eugene, OR 97403 G e o g r a p h y in st r u c t io n AT the University ofOregon developed primarily from its relationship to geology, which had been established by Thomas Condon, the most illustrious of the three professors appointed when the university opened in 1876. The relationship ended officially, but not intellectually, when geography and geology were made separate departments in 1957. Condon, Irish-born, had been a Congregational minister who led the way in exploring the plant and animal fossil beds of eastern Oregon. His reputation stands on his famous fossil collection and his geology teaching, but he regularly taught history, ethnography, and other courses. From the beginning, he taught a course titled physical features of the earth, which his daughter, Ellen Condon McComack, described as "the scientific side of geography." After the physical features course disappeared, he listed a physical geography course in the catalogs for three years beginning in 1894, by which time Condon was in his seventies, but still ten years from retirement. Geography was one of the subjects for admission examinations and was also taughtin the university's preparatorydivision formany years. In 1925, twenty-one years after Condon's retirement, geography moved with 140 PRICE: Geography at the University of Oregon 141 geology to the newly built Condon Hall, named for the professor, and is now the only field to have stayed there through its 65 years. Geography appeared again under geology in 1910, taught by Franklin Barker, whose title had changed from Professsor of Mining to Professor of Geography when the mining school was moved to Corvallis. The several courses offered during Barker's tenure were either physical or emphasized geographic influences and geographic factors. Well-known textbooks by A. P. Brigham and E. C. Semple were listed as references for the course in American history and geographical influences. The board of regents in 1913 found it "inadvisable to establish a new Department of Geography." Neither geography nor Professor Barker was mentioned in the next catalog. A new professor of geology was appointed in 1914 in the person of Warren D. Smith, who was to preside over whatever geology or geography the university offered for the ensuing 33 years. In addition to a physiography course designed to prepare teachers, the 1914-15 catalog listed advanced geography, a study ofthe field "inits broadest aspects," to aid in the interpretation of history, deal with geographic factors controlling commercial relations, and provide intensive study of important countries, especially the United States, the Pacific Ocean, and bordering countries. Gradually the number of geography courses in the Department ofGeology increased, most of them taught by Smith. Geography was added to the name of the department in 1929. By 1932, when all science except for a few lower division courses was moved to Corvallis, Smith was in a good position to remain in Eugene with the title of professor of geography, in the School of Social Sciences. At times during the next ten years he was listed separately as professor of geography and professor of geology, or as professor ofboth together, and separately as head of both fields. Geology was reestablished in 1942 and the Department of Geology and Geography formed anew. By the mid-1930s geography had a conventional mix of introduc­ tory, physical, and regional courses along with field and cartography courses. At least four master's theses had been written. James Stovall joined the department in 1934, the first faculty memberwith graduate 142 APCG YEARBOOK • VOLUME 52 • 1990 training in geography (Berkeley). Willis Merriam taught in the de­ partment from 1943 to 1946, becoming in 1944 the first faculty member with a Ph.D. in geography (University of Washington). Courses in military topography were offered during both world wars. We are left with the intriguing question of how Warren Smith developed his interest in geography. He had studied at Wisconsin, Stanford, and Chicago on his way to a Ph.D. in geology at Wisconsin in 1908. We do not know whether he came into contact with geography...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1551-3211
Print ISSN
0066-9628
Pages
pp. 140-152
Launched on MUSE
2014-10-01
Open Access
No
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