Clyde F. Kohn

Dr. Clyde F. Kohn was a Professor of Geography, author and Chairman of the Department of Geography at the University of Iowa.

Kohn was born April 10, 1911 and raised in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, living in Mohawk, Laurium and Palmer. He graduated from Negaunee High School as valedictorian of the class of 1928.

Kohn attended Northern Michigan University during the summer of 1928 and the 1928-29 school year, at which time he received a Limited Teaching Certificate, and for the next five years he taught in a one-room rural school in Yalmer Township and in the Gwinn Township School System. In 1934 he returned to Northern, and in the summer of 1935 received his B. A. He continued his education as a University Fellow in the University of Michigan, majoring in Geography, earning his M. A. in 1936 and his doctorate in 1940.

After completing his doctorate, he moved to Mississippi to become an associate professor of social studies at the Mississippi State College for Women in Columbus, Mississippi, where he stayed until 1942.

Kohn was then appointed as a visiting lecturer and instructor at Harvard from 1942-45, before moving to Northwestern University, where he was an Assistant Professor of Geography (1945-48), Associate Professor of Geography and Education (1948-52) and an Associate Professor of Geography (1952-58). He was also appointed president of the National Council for Geographic Education from 1950-52 (1).

In 1958, Kohn was appointed Professor of Geography at the University of Iowa. In 1965, he succeeded Harold H. McCarty as the chair of the Geography Department, and held the position from 1965-78 (2). After 26 years at the university, Kohn retired in 1984.

Kohn’s areas of interest were in Urban Social geography, Population Geography and the teaching of geography at all educational levels. He co-authored a coordinated social studies series of books for elementary school published by Scott, Foresman and Co., along with a textbook in geography for secondary schooling entitled The World Today: Its Patterns and Cultures, published by McGraw-HIll. At the university level, Kohn co-authored Readings in Urban Geography, published by the University of Chicago Press and authored more than 100 articles for professional journals. In total, he wrote, co-wrote or edited 25 books. In addition, Kohn worked with the development of other teaching aids including maps and films. He was one of the founders of the High School Geography Project, sponsored by the Association of American Geographers and the National Science Foundation.

From 1961-66, Kohn was the delegate of The Association of American Geographers to the U.S. National Commision for UNESCO (3). In 1963, he represented the United States at a meeting of representatives of the Associated Schools Project in Paris, and again as a delegate to an international meeting of educators in Geneva on Environmental Education in 1968.

After retiring, Kohn continued to write and teach in reduced capacities. He was a visiting professor to the University of Hawaii for one semester before settling Florida, where he was a regular wine columnist for the Fort Lauderdale News and the Sun Sentinel, and taught a course on “Wines of the World” at the University of Miami.

Kohn passed away November 22, 1989 after a three year battle with a rare form of cancer. In his memory, the University of Iowa Department of Geographical and Sustainability Sciences started the Clyde Kohn Colloquium Speaker Series, which brings in lecturers to speak on the subject of Geography.

  1. Kohn also served the National Council for Geographic Education as secretary (1945-51), member of the Teacher Education Committee (1968), chair (1974) and member (1977) of the Nominating Committee, chair of the Bicentennial Committee (1975), chair of the Search Committee for editor of the Journal of Geography (1975), and state coordinator of Iowa. He was also on the Editorial Board for the Journal of Geography from 1977-85.

  2. While at Iowa, Kohn served on the National Council for Social Studies as a member of the Editorial Board for Social Education (1956-59), the Executive Board (1964-66), and the Board of Directors (1964).

  3. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.