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Innovation and Inspiration: The Campaign for Kansas University
Rare Books - Exhibits

Ben A. & Sylvia S. Smith
American Geography & Social Studies Education Collection

Describing the work, or teaching geography

The Ben A. & Sylvia S. Smith American Geography and Social Studies Education Collection represents many years of labor, which entailed many, many hours of rummaging through used book stores, antique shops, and even some yard sales. In 1999, Ben Smith, Professor Emeritus of Elementary Education, and his wife Sylvia began to give their collection to Special Collections. Special Collections continues to add to this important collection by purchasing important American geography texts.

The collection is made up of over 3,000 books covering three centuries. Included are atlases, pedagogical materials, social studies texts, and geography textbooks, many of which are rare and in some cases unique. The collection covers a variety of formats: from books to maps to curriculum materials and CD-ROMs. It is, according to our research, the only collection of its kind in the United States and K-State is very fortunate to have it.

Current and future scholars studying the history of geography and social studies education in the United States are obligated to utilize this important collection. It represents the first generation of American geographers and the many influences and changes in geography education since the founding of this nation. Its breadth and depth of collection scope allows for many research angles.

Take a virtual tour of the special Gallery Exhibit showcasing the collection, March-May 2001.