Ellen Churchill Semple

Ellen Churchill Semple

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Ellen Churchill Semple was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

A geographer is a scholar whose area of study is geography, the study of Earth's natural environment and human society.Although geographers are historically known as people who make maps, map making is actually the field of study of cartography, a subset of geography...

. Ellen was born in Louisville, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky
Louisville is the largest city in the U.S. state of Kentucky, and the county seat of Jefferson County. Since 2003, the city's borders have been coterminous with those of the county because of a city-county merger. The city's population at the 2010 census was 741,096...

, the youngest of five children by Alexander Bonner Semple and Emerine Price. She is most closely associated with work in anthropogeography and environmentalism. In a series of books and papers she communicated certain aspects of the work of German geographer Friedrich Ratzel
Friedrich Ratzel
Friedrich Ratzel was a German geographer and ethnographer, notable for first using the term Lebensraum in the sense that the National Socialists later would.-Life:...

 to the Anglophone community. Standard disciplinary accounts often attribute to Semple a prevailing interest in environmental determinism
Environmental determinism
Environmental determinism, also known as climatic determinism or geographical determinism, is the view that the physical environment, rather than social conditions, determines culture...

, a theory that the physical environment, rather than social conditions, determines culture; however her later work emphasized environmental influences as opposed to the environment's deterministic effect on culture, reflecting broader academic discontent with environmental determinism after the First World War. Semple studied at Vassar College
Vassar College
Vassar College is a private, coeducational liberal arts college in the town of Poughkeepsie, New York, in the United States. The Vassar campus comprises over and more than 100 buildings, including four National Historic Landmarks, ranging in style from Collegiate Gothic to International,...

 and the University of Leipzig
University of Leipzig
The University of Leipzig , located in Leipzig in the Free State of Saxony, Germany, is one of the oldest universities in the world and the second-oldest university in Germany...

. She taught at the University of Chicago
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was founded by the American Baptist Education Society with a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and incorporated in 1890...

 and at Clark University
Clark University
Clark University is a private research university and liberal arts college in Worcester, Massachusetts.Founded in 1887, it is the oldest educational institution founded as an all-graduate university. Clark now also educates undergraduates...

. She died at West Palm Beach, Florida
West Palm Beach, Florida
West Palm Beach, is a city located on the Atlantic coast in southeastern Florida and is the most populous city in and county seat of Palm Beach County, the third most populous county in Florida with a 2010 population of 1,320,134. The city is also the oldest incorporated municipality in South Florida...

Ellen C. Semple Elementary School in Louisville is named after Semple. She is buried in the Cave Hill National Cemetery in Louisville.


  • Civilization Is at Bottom an Economic Fact. 1896
  • The Influence of the Appalachian Barrier Upon Colonial History. 1897
  • The Anglo-Saxons of the Kentucky Mountains: A Study in Anthropogeography. 1901
  • American History and Its Geographic Conditions. 1903
  • The North-Shore Villages of the Lower St. Lawrence. 1904
  • Influences of Geographic Environment: On the Basis of Ratzel's System of Anthropo-Geography. 1911
  • Barrier Boundary of the Mediterranean Basin and Its Northern Breaches As Factors in History. 1915
  • Pirate Coasts of the Mediterranean Sea. 1916
  • Texts of the Ukraine "Peace": With Maps. 1918
  • The Ancient Piedmont Route of Northern Mesopotamia. 1919
  • Geographic Factors in the Ancient Mediterranean Grain Trade. 1921
  • The Influence of Geographic Conditions Upon Ancient Mediterranean Stock-Raising. 1922
  • The Templed Promontories of the Ancient Mediterranean. 1927
  • Ancient Mediterranean Agriculture. 1928
  • Ancient Mediterranean Pleasure Gardens. 1929
  • The Geography of the Mediterranean Region: Its Relation to Ancient History. 1931

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