Wright, John Kirtland

Wright, John Kirtland

(1891–1969) geographer; born in Cambridge, Mass. He grew up in an academic atmosphere and as a child came to know William Morris Davis, the Harvard professor who more than any other American provided a disciplined structure for geography. Wright studied geography and history at Harvard and at the graduate level was allowed to offer the history of geographical knowledge as his special field; his own dissertation was published as The Geographical Lore of the Time of the Crusades: A Study in the History of Medieval Science and Tradition in Western Europe (1925, republished 1965). In 1920, Isaiah Bowman, director of the American Geographical Society, hired Wright as his librarian and he spent most of his career affiliated with that society; he never held a university faculty post—only in his later years did he give a few seminars—but functioned much as a research associate, editor, and mentor to many geographers. Although he did not publish that many books, he wrote countless articles, geographical record items, and book reviews; many of his essays—some collected in Human Nature in Geography (1966)—had considerable impact on the field. His special interests included the history of the discipline, the role of human nature in geography, maps and atlases, and "geosophy."
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.