Image of William Morris Davis


Lifetime: 1850 - 1934 Passed: ≈ 90 years ago


Geographer, Meteorologist


United States

William Morris Davis

William Morris Davis (February 12, 1850 – February 5, 1934) was an American geographer, geologist, geomorphologist, and meteorologist, often called the "father of American geography". He was born into a prominent Quaker family in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and studied geology and geography at Harvard University. After graduating, he worked as a meteorologist in Argentina for three years, before returning to Harvard to teach.

Davis is best known for his work in geomorphology, the study of landforms. He developed a theory of landscape evolution that is still widely used today, known as the "Geographical Cycle". The Geographical Cycle describes how landforms are created, modified, and destroyed by the forces of nature. Davis's work had a profound impact on the development of geography as a discipline, and he is credited with helping to establish it as an independent field of study.

In addition to his work in geomorphology, Davis also made significant contributions to meteorology, climatology, and regional geography. He was a prolific writer, and his works include over 500 papers and books. He was also a gifted teacher, and his students went on to become some of the leading geographers of the 20th century.

Davis was a visionary leader in the field of geography, and his work helped to shape the discipline as we know it today. He was also a passionate advocate for the importance of geography, and he believed that it was essential for understanding the world around us. Davis was a true polymath, and his work had a profound impact on a wide range of disciplines.

Davis's philosophy of geography was based on the idea that the Earth is a system, and that all of its parts are interrelated. He believed that geography should be a holistic discipline that studies the Earth in all of its complexity. Davis also believed that geography should be applied to real-world problems, and he was a strong advocate for using geographical knowledge to solve environmental and social problems.

Davis died in Pasadena, California, in 1934. He is remembered as one of the most influential geographers of all time, and his work continues to be relevant today. He is also remembered for his commitment to public service, and he was a founding member of the National Geographic Society.

William Morris Davis was a brilliant scholar, a dedicated teacher, and a passionate advocate for the importance of geography. His work has had a profound impact on our understanding of the Earth, and he is rightly regarded as one of the most important figures in the history of geography.

Books by William Morris Davis

Biographical Memoir of John Wesley Powell, 1834-1902 Cover image

Biographical Memoir of John Wesley Powell, 1834-1902

Memoir Biography
War Evolution Autobiography Expedition Exploration Journey Life Memory

In the early days of the American West, a young man named John Wesley Powell set out to explore the Colorado River and its canyonlands. His journey would change the course of history, and his story is told in this fascinating biography by William Mor...