50th Annual Meeting

Abstracts of Papers Presented

Germanic Immigrants and Migrants in Rural Ohio, 1790-1850: Patterns, Processes and Cultural Landscapes

Timothy G. Anderson - Department of Geography, Ohio University

Germanic migrants and immigrants played a significant role in the early, formative settlement of the Northwest Territory during the Early National period. This paper addresses the historical settlement geography of three different Germanic migrant populations in rural Ohio during this era: Pennsylvania-German migrants from southeast Pennsylvania in central Ohio; Old-order Amish and Mennonites in northeast Ohio; and German immigrants from the Oldenburger Münsterland in western Ohio. First, the paper details the geographical origins and numbers of migrants/immigrants involved. Next, the settlement of each of these groups in distinctive parts of the state through time and space are mapped. Finally, the cultural landscape impress of each group is discussed, focusing on distinctive cultural landscape features that set these settlement regions apart.

Odd Clusters and Conspicuous Voids in the Local Agricultural Landscape: Some Oklahoma Examples

Brad A. Bays -Department of Geography, Oklahoma State University

Any close examination of the cultural landscape of a large enough area is sure to discover localized clusters of idiosyncratic items or, alternatively, conspicuous voids in the otherwise regular patterns of common landscape stuff. Sometimes these odd clusters and weird holes are readily apparent while conducting fieldwork; other times they only arise after careful map study. To the curious student of the built environment, local clusters and voids often plea for better explanation than historical accident or local eccentricity. This paper presents some selected local-scale examples of (more-or-less) unexplained clusters and deficiencies identified in a survey of Oklahoma’s archaic farm buildings. Do these local oddities express some adaptive function to environmental conditions that led neighboring farmers to copy for a time, or do they reveal examples of diffusion associated with past migrations of ethnic groups or likeminded settlers from other regions? Some clusters appear quite logical, such as the tendency to use locally-abundant types of stone, or the concentration of country grain elevators surrounding the historic wheat entrepot of Enid. But others seem to be explained only defaulting to a theory of cultural drift or local fancy, such as the odd cluster of barns with monitor roofs in some west-central counties, or the tendency, in the Illinois River basin, for barns to contain hay hoods with braced, extended hanging gables. Deficiencies seem to indicate historical sequencing or long-term changes in farm production systems, as in the case, respectively, of the scarcity of general use barns in the Panhandle counties and large barns in the southern counties. The paper concludes with preliminary results of a multicounty, sample-based examination of farm outbuilding attrition intended to spur questions about the nature of what missing things in the landscape may tell us.

Hot Licks: What the Practice of Stamp Pandering Tells Us About the Enduring Spatial and Temporal Appeal of Elvis Presley and the Beatles.

Thomas L. Bell, Professor Emeritus, Department of Geography, University of Tennessee

The images of numerous American and British rock music performers have appeared on postage stamps issued by several small and developing countries, places that are usually not home to the musicians themselves. In turn, these celebrity stamps become highly sought after by fans of the rock music artists and philatelists (stamp collectors) alike. This practice is known as “stamp pandering.” As many as 42 countries have been identified as “stamp panderers” using their state sovereignty to sell collectible postage stamps thus providing them with a source of revenue. But there is more to this story than just the enduring global appeal of certain rock music celebrities and philatelic culture. Spatial and temporal patterns of stamp pandering reveal interesting trends in the diffusion of rock music culture. Using postage stamps as source material, this paper compares and contrasts how two of the most iconic figures in rock music history, the American legend, Elvis Presley, and the figureheads of the “British Invasion,” the Beatles, have been represented in postage stamps. This research combines the social and geopolitical context of rock and roll music in the period from 1956 to 1964 with postage stamp commemoration by stamp pandering countries. The postage staying power of Elvis vis-à-vis the Beatles was evaluated. You may be all shook up to hear that Elvis is the clear winner as “The King” of postage based on the number of countries and stamps issued for Mr. Presley, relative to stamps that commemorate the Beatles or its individual members.

Construction Materials as Cultural Flags in Louisiana

Laura Ewen Blokker, Adjunct Assistant Professor/Assistant Director, Preservation Studies, Tulane School of Architecture

The rich, multi-cultural, Francophone heritage for which Louisiana is famous can be seen in its construction traditions just as in its music and foodways. The French method of infilling between timber framing with earthen daub, called bousillage, came to Louisiana at the very beginnings of French exploration of the Gulf Coast. It was readily combined with the local Native American building process of reinforcing daub with Spanish moss. From thence forward, it was a common mode of construction among the Creole and Acadian populations despite the availability of other materials. Although its use declined after the 1830s, bousillage carried forth all the way into the twentieth in some rural areas of the state’s “French triangle of influence”. At the same time, a robust practice of log architecture took hold in Louisiana during the nineteenth century that stood apart from both the state’s rich Creole and Acadian vernacular and the more high-style national architectural influences. Log architecture was deeply connected with that part of the population which is commonly known as the Upland South culture. Cultural geographer Martin Wright concluded that, “The areas occupied by the culture present a material appearance that is entirely different from the appearance of other culture regions of the state.” Most notable was the “preoccupation with the use of logs for construction.” Like bousillage among Creole and Acadian builders, log construction endured within the Upland South population into the twentieth century. Together, these two building techniques tell of cultural tenacity and geographical dispersion in Louisiana. Discussing the earliest and the latest examples of each construction method in Louisiana, the paper will explain how what began as necessary continuations of traditions evolved into cultural signatures amidst many other readily available building materials.

’Please Mention the Green Book:’ The Negro Motorist Green Book as Critical GIS

Ethan Bottone - Department of Geography, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

The recently rediscovered Green Book, a Jim Crow-era travel guide created by African-Americans to help Black travelers find welcoming accommodations, has received much scrutiny. Consisting of almost 30 editions published between 1936 and 1964, the Green Book features thousands of addresses for businesses that catered to African-Americans during a period of institutionalized discrimination and segregation. Use of the guide allowed for safe travel by African-Americans through hostile areas of the United States as it provided escape from harassment and potential violence instigated by unwelcoming shopkeepers and patrons. Despite this recognized social and historical importance, few studies have investigated the applicability of this source to geographic information sciences (GIS). This paper seeks to fill this gap by understanding how the text of the Green Book can be read as a critical geographic information system, particularly through the lens of volunteered geographic information (VGI). Simultaneously, it provides insights into the geography of African-American travel patterns during an era of state-sponsored discrimination. This study embraces technological advances since the time of the Green Book’s publication to visually map spatial data published during the Jim Crow era to demonstrate the GIS applications of the guide. Utilizing a case study of New Orleans, Louisiana, I show how the Green Book can be read to reveal how shifts in American racial politics, from overt segregation in the 1930s to racial liberalization in the 1960s, led to shifts in the spaces associated with African-American travel. By comparing the Green Book VGI to historical socioeconomic data, trends in urban neighborhood composition can explain how and why African-American travel patterns shifted within the case city. This study demonstrates how historical texts can be utilized as a form of GIS, and provides insights into the historical geography of a largely understudied population, African-American travelers.

In the Shadow of the Refinery: An American Company Town in Aruba

Dawn S. Bowen, University of Mary Washington

American industries created company towns across the United States, and in the late nineteenth century, their usage spread into Latin America and the Caribbean. Most company towns were designed for workers; the literature on company towns has tended to focus on these. However, some were specifically designed for expatriate managers and supervisors; these have received relatively little scholarly attention. This article focuses on Standard Oil’s Lago Colony on the island of Aruba. Established in 1929, the community offered a host of amenities including schools, a hospital, a store, a club, and a wide variety of sporting venues. This article examines the evolution of the town and explores the factors that contributed to its decline. It discusses life in the community, and specifically focuses on the lived experiences of children in making the company town their home.

Elegy to Peirce Lewis — Revisiting ‘A Small Town in Pennsylvania’

Wayne Brew – Montgomery County Community College

Prompted by the recent passing of Peirce Lewis and current work updating Wilbur Zelinsky’s article on Pennsylvania Towns (Johannson and Cornebise) I revisited Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. Lewis’s classic 1972 historical geography article “A Small Town in Pennsylvania” will be used as a reference to take a current look at Bellefonte focusing on demographic and landscape changes that have occurred over the last 46 years.

Ethnic Landscapes in Wisconsin: Three Unique Examples

John A. Cross, Department of Geography and Urban Planning, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.

Wisconsin has long been known for its numerous European ethnic populations who created local cultural landscapes that remind visitors of the Old Country. This ethnic diversity was acclaimed in Fred Holmes’ Old World Wisconsin and is displayed at the state historical society’s outdoor heritage museum by the same name. While the connection between Wisconsin and German ethnic architecture in both cities and the rural countryside is widely known, several smaller ethnic populations created rural cultural landscapes that can be found nowhere else in the United States.

This paper focuses upon describing the ethnic landscapes of three European ancestry groups whose rural settlements in Wisconsin account for a larger percentage of the local population than elsewhere in the United States. These were the Cornish, the Poles, and the Belgians. Very small numbers of the first and third groups are found elsewhere in the nation. The Cornish, who came initially to work in the lead mines and expanded into farming, created a landscape that is best distinguished by the design of their stone masonry buildings, particularly their homes. The Polish are not distinguished by their houses, but by their religious imprint—which is far more pervasive than just their churches. The Belgians are distinguished by both their distinctive domestic and religious landscape.

Growing Food Security, Embracing the Opportunities of Our Unique Landscape –Poster

Kristy Doering, Kent State University

The area surrounding Kent State University, in both Stark and Summit counties in Ohio, are experiencing high rates of food insecurity. It is also well documented that food insecurity is prevalent among many college students. To examine and alleviate this issue on the Kent State Stark Campus and surrounding community, this two-year garden project measures the overall input and output of an on-campus, organic, food garden. The output has been carefully measured, tracked, and distributed at no cost to participants. Through the planting and maintaining of two raised garden beds on campus, we have been able to provide significant quantities of produce for distribution among students, staff, and others within the surrounding community. The garden beds are maintained organically and provide a diverse assortment of fresh, free, zero-mile, nutrition to anyone in need. This method of local, small-scale gardening eliminates often damaging environmental externalities associated with large scale agricultural processes allowing a transparency of impacts and source that consumers are not often privy to. Bringing this opportunity to Kent State Stark has allowed students and staff to see and experience a tangible connection to our unique landscape. It also provides an opportunity to directly involve students from different disciplines who may be interested in learning about small scale, sustainable agriculture. The Kent Stark campus garden project demonstrates the potential output and impact of micro gardening in unique spaces and situations and provides a model for potential future projects or larger scale operations throughout the community.

Movable Monuments: Automobiles, Urban Development, & Confederate Monument Relocation

Joy M. Giguere - Assistant Professor of History, Penn State York

In the wake of the murder of nine African Americans at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, communities across the United States began to reassess the symbolism and propriety of Confederate monuments. From Massachusetts to California, plaques, statues, and memorials of various types were removed, relocated, or covered up. Advocates for removal argue that such commemorative objects uphold the values of institutionalized racism since they valorize those who fought, whether consciously or not, for the perpetuation of race-based slavery. Opponents to removal argue that the monuments themselves are “history” and that to remove them would be tantamount to erasing the nation’s history and the identity of the communities in which they are located. Throughout the modern debate concerning Confederate monuments, interest groups on both sides have mainly focused on the existence of these objects in their present locations, as static artifacts that have remained unchanged since their erection. This treatment thus obscures the larger history of these monuments as cultural artifacts with the capacity to both change and be changed by their landscapes. For many Confederate monuments currently under debate for removal, they were first erected in the closing decades of the 19th century. As the cities where they were erected experienced expansion, and as automobiles became increasingly popular in the opening decades of the 20th century, numerous communities were faced with the problem of whether or not to remove or relocate their monuments. In some instances, such as in Louisville, Kentucky, opposition to relocation resulted in road modifications that allowed the monument to remain in its original location. In others, such as in Tifton, Georgia, the Confederate monument was ultimately relocated five times. This paper thus examines the relationship between Confederate monuments and urban development in the early 20th century in order to offer a counternarrative to the 21st century public understanding of these artifacts as static.

Buried in Bitterness: The Case of Race, Place, and Dislocated Memorialization at the Blue Grass Army Depot Cemeteries in Madison County, Kentucky.

Dr. Margaret M. Gripshover - Professor, Department of Geography and Geology, Western Kentucky University.

In 1941, in response to the military buildup for World War II, the U.S. Army developed new weapons depots to store conventional and chemical weapons. One such depot was planned for Madison County, Kentucky, between the cities of Richmond and Berea, and known as the Blue Grass Army Depot (BGAD). In all, over 14,000 acres of Outer Bluegrass farmland were purchased via eminent domain to create the BGAD. Although the project was couched in the context of “patriotic duty,” many were bitter about being forced to move. Adding to local discontent, was the not-so-small problem of exhuming and relocating more than 1,000 human remains from dozens of small family cemeteries. To address this issue, the Army developed two racially segregated cemeteries---one for white reburials (“Cemetery A”), and the other as a “Colored Cemetery” (“Cemetery B”). The Army promised to maintain the “White Cemetery” and appointed a civilian “Board of Trustees” whose main responsibility was to manage the sales of new grave sites. No similar provisions were made for the “Colored Cemetery.” In 1973, the Army abruptly announced that they would no longer provide maintenance support. To compound problems, the Board of Trustees failed to sell a single new burial plot or transfer the cemetery deed to the next generation of stewards. Today, both “Cemetery A” and “Cemetery B” are orphaned landscapes in legal purgatory and show signs of long-term deferred maintenance. The purpose of this research is to explore the material and emotional abandonment of these two cemeteries and to explore why efforts to restore and preserve them have been largely met with local resistance and/or disinterest. For many, the two segregated Army cemeteries are less landscapes of memorialization than they are a constant reminder of the loss of ancestral homesteads and a betrayal by their government.

Gas Stations as Fuel Types: Revisiting John A. Jakle’s “The American Gasoline Station, 1920 to 1970.”

Ellen Hostetter, Ph.D.

The starting point for this presentation is John A. Jakle’s “The American Gasoline Station, 1920 to 1970,” published in 1978 in The Journal of American Culture. Jakle draws our attention to that utterly ordinary, utterly mundane part of the American scene—the gasoline station—and asks us to understand this part of our built environment as “a landscape phenomenon.” The architectural and spatial evolution of gasoline stations tells a larger story about American tastes and values, as well as the impact of the automobile on everyday American life and place. Jakle’s scholarship gave us a now classic typology for understanding this story, which categorizes gas stations according to appearance, design, spatial context, and era. This paper expands Jakle’s typology with the goal of expanding our understanding of the historical evolution of automobile-related landscapes. Jakle based his typology on a specific definition of gas station—roadside facilities specially designed to sell gasoline—which I broaden: any place an individual regularly fills a vehicle with fuel. Instead of a gas station typology we get a fueling typology that includes not only gas stations in the traditional sense, but secondary retail outlets such as parking garages, automobile dealerships, hotels, convenience stores; private business pumps such as taxi companies, warehouses, manufacturers, farms; municipal pumps such as police and highway departments; and suburban homes with garage pumps. So many of these gasoline pumps are not easy to spot from the road and many are hidden from view. Yet they all represent the very material impact that gasoline powered vehicles had on the landscape. They all tell a story about how people modified their surroundings to service a new technology.

Postcard Imagery and Geographical Imagination along the Lincoln Highway

Douglas A. Hurt -University of Missouri, Department of Geography & Adam A. Payne - Auburn University, Department of Geosciences

Linking New York City with San Francisco, the Lincoln Highway was one of the first improved transcontinental highways in the United States. Although it is a historically significant transportation corridor, the road has not maintained a prominent place in American popular culture. As part of the process of understanding early place promotion and the contribution of the Lincoln Highway to the American collective imagination, we assessed 237 postcards made by the Curt Teich Publishing Company that focused on the roadway. Four postcard themes—business promotion, evolving automobility and roadways, distinctive rural landscapes, as well as common urban landscapes—emerged and illustrate how images of the Lincoln Highway were portrayed to the public, primarily before 1960. These imaginative, visual geographies contributed to the shaping of regional perceptions as Americans began to engage in automobile-based tourism in the early-to-mid twentieth century.

Water Billboard Advertising in the Sahel: Juxtaposing Consumption and Conservation in Niamey, Niger

Sara Beth Keough, Department of Geography, Saginaw Valley State University

In the Sahel region of West Africa, the acquisition and distribution of freshwater is a primary concern. Along with limited supplies, freshwater has become commoditized and controlled by global forces with impacts on local populations. This paper examines water-themed billboard advertising found along the highways in Niamey, Niger. Billboards displayed between 2016-2018 fell into two categories: commercial advertising of packaged water and messages about the importance of water conservation. The irony of billboards that both promote consumption and encourage conservation is reflective of global trends in water provision, especially in developing countries.

Landscape and the Lyrics of Labor Songs

Chris W. Post, Department of Geography, Kent State University Stark, North Canton, OH,

Mark Rhodes, Department of Geography, Kent State University

An enduring theme of popular music over the past century has been the search for justice in many forms, be it environmental protection, anti-war sentiment, feminism, or as this paper details, labor rights. While perhaps having lost steam in the United States over the past twenty five years, labor still holds a special place in the pantheon of popular music subjects. From Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger to Bruce Springsteen and Jason Isbell, work has maintained a voice over the radio and now on our computers and other devices through song. Using a sample set of 25 labor-focused compositions written over the last century, we found several material themes arise. Most of this work focuses on the body in three general ways: its mobility, positionality, and violence. This presentation focuses directly on those lyrics that devote themselves to illustrating landscapes that visualize these spatial themes.

General James Longstreet, the Piedmont Hotel and Historical Memory

Thomas H. Rasmussen

Following defeated the Confederacy in 1865, General James Longstreet moved to New Orleans and participated in the debate about the appropriate response to northern victory in the War Between the States. Longstreet favored a centrist politics of compromise among social groups, cooperating with the Northern occupiers in the hope of softening the burdens of reconstruction. Longstreet also believed that white leaders should work with the newly freed black population, integrating blacks into the post war political and economic order and encouraging responsible black leaders. Most Southerners rejected Longstreet’s position, preferring to resist the northern occupiers, affirm the traditional southern way of life, and keep blacks in servitude. By 1875, Longstreet was branded a traitor to the Southern cause and he was forced out of New Orleans. He relocated in Gainesville GA where he bought the Piedmont Hotel, a useful focal point for understanding how the community constructs the meaning of the civil war over time. The Piedmont Hotel enjoyed a visible central location and a weekly flow of visitors for forty years. When the hotel closed its doors and was mostly torn down about 1916, the building disappeared from historical memory for 80 years. In 1995, white Sothern regional and racial attitudes had changed significantly; Georgians were ready to correct Longstreet’s historical reputation. The rediscovery of the Piedmont Hotel’s remaining wing in 1995 contributes to the process of refashioning Southern cultural identity. The Longstreet Society maintains museum and library, welcomes several hundred visitors a year, and sponsors an annual seminar at important Longstreet sites. The Piedmont Hotel lives again in historical memory, celebrating Longstreet’s success as a military leader and as an advocate of compromise and civility in discussions of contentious issues.

The Absent Presence of Paul Robeson in Wales: Appropriation and Philosophical Disconnects in the Memorial Landscape

Mark Rhodes, Department of Geography, Kent State University

In 2011, during a visit to the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea, Wales, I encountered a memorial landscape both unexpected and confusing. Paul Robeson had recently been voted one of the fifteen most significant individuals in Welsh history in the museum’s ‘Welsh Achievers Gallery.’ How could Robeson, an African American erased from the history books in his own country, be appropriated by popular vote as a Welsh national hero? This paper questions how Robeson’s philosophies, evident in his arts and actions, were memorialized into those of a Welsh national hero through the theoretical lens of absent presence and geographies of the biography. I explore this relationship between Wales and Robeson further to understand his influence and commemorative presence in Wales by exploring the material memorial landscape of Robeson and how he is represented within broader Welsh memorialization and nationalism. Through the discourse of the memorial landscapes of Wales, elements of his philosophy may be over or under-represented. For example, he connected with the strong socialist history in Wales but the complexity of Robeson’s philosophical framework remains absent. Why were only some of his philosophical beliefs transmitted into Welsh society and the memorial landscape? This paper reveals both the presence and absence of Paul Robeson’s complex biography in the material memorial landscape in Wales.

Landscapes of Assimilation in New England, 1910-1930

Scott Roper, Castleton University

During the early 20th century, Progressive reformers became increasingly concerned with the immigration of Eastern and Southern Europeans to New England. Combined with earlier waves of migration from Ireland and Quebec, these migrants (in the minds of Progressives) threatened to overturn existing cultural mores, essentially destroying Protestant Yankee culture and replacing it with inferior Catholic-based ways of life. Reformers used the cultural landscape to help counteract this perceived trend. Effectively, through the Colonial and Gothic Revivals, the Arts and Crafts movement, and the remembrance of World War I and other historical events, they reshaped public and religious landscapes in an effort to “educate” immigrants.

Evoking a Sense of Place Through Museum Design in Kesennuma, Japan

Rex J. Rowley Illinois State University

On March 11, 2011, Japan experienced the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in that country. The resulting tsunami inundated coastlines, destroyed villages and parts of many cities, and displaced or killed tens of thousands of people in the Tohoku region’s northeast quarter. A coastal port and fishing city, Kesennuma in Miyagi Prefecture, was one of the hardest hit population centers, the waves having destroyed much of the city’s commercial core and all of its low coastal neighborhoods. The waves highlighted certain elements of the city’s sense of place-based identity, and it forever changed others. I explore one representative example of how the 3/11 disaster, as experienced by local residents, has simultaneously maintained and altered Kesennuma as a place. Specifically, I examine the Kesennuma Shark Museum, one of city’s core cultural and tourist attractions, and one of the early rehabilitated buildings during the recovery. My conclusions are abased on 4 years of participant observation, conversation with residents, and a contextual analysis of the museum’s purpose, layout, and messaging portrayed to its patrons. I argue that the Shark Museum is a mirror into the memory, optimism, and shifting sense of place in the broader community in the wake of the waves.

Reconstruction of the Colonial Landscape of New Orleans through Spanish Land Surveys

Andrew Sluyter, LSU Geography and Anthropology

Surveys of Spanish land grants dating to the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century in the environs of colonial New Orleans provide unique sources for analyses that range from personal genealogical research to helping historical social scientists and humanists reconstruct the environmental and social patterns and processes of a historic landscape. Each document consists of a map showing the land granted and text describing it, comprising not only boundary information but artistic renditions of landscape elements such as vegetation, water bodies, and land uses as well as the ethnic and genealogical information inherent in documents about named individuals. No other set of documents provides such a comprehensive overview of the patterns of land and life on the eve of the integration of New Orleans into the territory of the United States of America after the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.

After the Fire: Patterns and Persistence of Chicago “Common” and “Bakery” Brick

Samuel Clay Wallace, Associate Professor of Geography, Montgomery County Community College

Before the disastrous night of October 8, 1871, Chicago had pioneered the use of balloon framed wood construction. A year after the fire, still during their recovery, Chicago authorities drove reconstruction towards the use of brick. Nearby foundries produced large volumes of a multi-colored, pink, buff, red, yellow, and black brick that became known as “Chicago common” which was also used in common ways for the sides and backs of a wide variety of buildings. Contrasted with this, a generation later explored glazed brick in a variety of colors, but particularly white with dark olive green punctuation. This pattern might have become known as “bakery brick” due to an association with “hygienic” businesses such as butcher shops, pharmacies, and bakeries. These brick patterns persist in Chicago due to their association with the city, cleanliness, and an increasingly important ethnic group. This photo essay will focus on the geographic diffusion of Chicago “common” brick and its modifications, as well as the geographic distribution of “bakery brick” preservation.

The Process of Latinization in an Oklahoma Panhandle Community

Jeffrey Widener, Ph.D. -Department of Geography and Environmental Sustainability, University of Oklahoma

Latinos have a long history in the Oklahoma Panhandle region. Their presence, however, has become increasingly visible on the cultural landscape over the last few decades, owing to the agricultural and meat processing industries here. In Guymon, the largest municipality in the Panhandle, this is particularly true. Indeed, a Latino impress on the landscape not only makes it a place for them, it also signifies a cultural change that is apparent and has taken hold in this rural American town. This paper conveys the process on how Latinos have Latinized the cultural landscape of the Oklahoma Panhandle.

Return to top