Washington women: Practicing geography in the U.S. government, 1915–1970s

Janice Monk*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Histories of geography, especially those dealing with the twentieth century, tend to focus on geographic thought or academia rather than on practice in other arenas such as government agencies. In the United States during that period, however, the latter included a higher proportional representation of women professionals than did research-oriented universities. This article examines the careers of selected women geographers who had long-term and senior positions in Washington, DC, in agencies such as the Library of Congress, Bureau of the Census, the Department of State, and the Office of Naval Research. Drawing on sources including directories, the archives and oral history collections of the Society of Woman Geographers, and interviews conducted in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I explore four main themes: how these women came to government work, aspects of the intersections of personal and professional lives, ways in which economic and political contexts shaped their opportunities and experiences, and the nature of their contributions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)683-693
Number of pages11
JournalProfessional Geographer
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • government employment
  • research sources
  • women geographers


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