Edward B. Epenshade Jr.

- 2008

Edward B. Espenshade Jr., professor emeritus at Northwestern University and a former President of the Association of American Geographers, died on January 26, 2008. He served the Department of Geography at Northwestern from 1945 through 1978, including a term as Chair from 1958 to 1975. Espenshade was known as an outstanding cartographer, for his dedication to geography education, and for the significant contributions he made to the Allied war effort in Europe during World War II.

Espenshade received his PhD in geography from the University of Chicago after earning BS and MS degrees in geology from that same institution. In 1932, he began his professional career as a junior geologist for the Illinois Geological Survey. He then worked as map curator at the University of Chicago Libraries and as geography instructor.

During the Second World War, Espenshade served as Foreign Map Editor for the Army Map Service, then as intelligence specialist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. His work as intelligence specialist put him in charge of one of several teams that entered cities and military installations within hours after their capture by U.S. forces to find, evaluate, and secure map-making and photo intelligence materials of value to the Allies.

Espenshade became a faculty member at Northwestern University immediately following the war. His professional colleagues and students particularly valued his mentorship and visionary leadership. Espenshade is perhaps best known for his editorial work on Goode’s World Atlas from 1949 to 1994. His contributions to the field of geography and cartography, both through his teaching and his publications, were extensive.

Espenshade served as Chairman of the Earth Sciences Division of the National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences. He also served as President of the Association of American Geographers in 1964. A former president of the Geographic Society of Chicago, he was elected its first Lifetime Director.

Espenshade received numerous awards during the course of his long career, including the Undergraduate Teaching Award at the University of Chicago, the Distinguished Service Award from the Geographic Society of Chicago, the George J. Miller Award for Distinguished Service from the National Council for Geographic Education, and the Distinguished Geographic Educator Award from the Illinois Geography Society.

Edward B. Epenshade Jr. (Necrology). 2008. AAG Newsletter 43(4): 19.