Isaiah Bowman

Isaiah Bowman

Bowman, Isaiah, 1878-1950, American geographer, b. Waterloo, Ont., B.S. Harvard, 1905, Ph.D. Yale, 1909. He taught geography at Yale (1905-15) and was director (1915-35) of the American Geographical Society. He led the first Yale South American expedition (1907), served as geographer-geologist on the Yale Peruvian expedition (1911), and led the American Geographical Society Expedition to the Central Andes (1913). He was chief territorial adviser to President Wilson at the Versailles conference and served the Dept. of State as territorial adviser in World War II. Bowman was a member of the executive committee of the National Research Council from 1919 to 1929 and was its chairman from 1933 to 1935. He was president of Johns Hopkins Univ. from 1935 until his retirement in 1948. His work on many commissions and boards includes contributions as an active officer of the Explorers Club, the Association of American Geographers, and the Council of Foreign Relations and as president (1931-34) of the International Geographical Union, and as vice president (1940-45) of the National Academy of Sciences. Bowman's books include Forest Physiography (1911); The Andes of Southern Peru (1916); Desert Trails of the Atacama (1924); The New World (1922); The Pioneer Fringe (1931); and Design for Scholarship (1936).
Isaiah Bowman, AB, Ph. D. (26 December 1878, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada6 January 1950, Baltimore, United States) was an American geographer. He was educated at Harvard and Yale where he taught from 1905 to 1915, after which time he became the director of the American Geographical Society, a position he held for 20 years from 1915 to 1935. He was chief territorial adviser to President Woodrow Wilson at the Versailles conference and served the Department of State as territorial adviser in World War Two. Some of his more notable works include;

  • Forest Physiography (1911)
  • Well-Drilling Methods (1911)
  • South America (1915)
  • The Andes of Southern Peru (1916)
  • The New World-Problems in Political Geography (1921)

In 1916 he became associate editor of the Geographical Review. He was associate editor of the Journal of Geography in 1918-19 and editor in 1919-20. In 1921 he became a director of the newly formed Council of Foreign Relations. Bowman served as President of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland from 1935 to 1948. Before and during World War II he served on the Council of Foreign Relation's War and Peace Studies as chairman of its territorial group. From 1945 to 1949 he was a CFR vice-president.

Beginning in 2005, the American Geographical Society has helped launch international collaborative research projects, called the Bowman Expeditions in Bowman's honor, in part to advise the U.S. government concerning future trends in the human terrain of other countries. The first project, in Mexico, is called Mexico Indigena.


Further reading

  • Smith, Neil (2003). American Empire: Roosevelt's Geographer and the Prelude to Globalization. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-23027-2.

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