Semple, Ellen Churchill (1863–1932)

Ellen churchill semple received her B.A. and M.A. degrees in history from Vassar College during the first decade of the 20th century. At that time, American geography was strongly influenced by geology and the sub-discipline of physical geography commanded its orientation. Semple received her introduction to geography through attending lectures by the noted German geographer Freidrich Ratzel, whose two-volume work, Anthropogeographie, reflected the current thinking in the field. Semple worked with Ratzel at the University of Leipzig for several years, but received no degree because women were not allowed to matriculate.

Carl Ortwin Sauer, the American geographer who would become the unofficial dean of cultural geography, heard several of Semple's lectures when she visited the University of Chicago. Sauer remarked about her penchant for documenting the ...

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