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Simon Fraser University Special Collections and Rare Books Union of Socialist Geographers Collection
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Union of Socialist Geographers collection

  • MsC-188
  • Collection
  • 1972-1977

In September of 1974, 12 members of the SFU Geography Department voted to form a Vancouver chapter of the Union of Socialist Geographers (USG). For the first few years this chapter, comprised of both faculty and graduate students, was responsible for collecting, editing and publishing content for issues of the USG newsletter. Eventually, volumes comprised of multiple issues of newsletters were produced and the first few of these were also published from SFU. By 1978, however, support from the Geography department at the University was waning. M. E. Eliot Hurst, a key founding member of the USG, was replaced as Chair of the Department of Geography and graduate students were leaving, so the Minnesota chapter stepped in to become the principle organizing and publishing collective for volumes 5 and 6.
Superseded by a splinter group, the USG fizzled out of existence around 1981. In the years since, several original members of the Union have worked to collect and digitize original published content, though it remains incomplete. SFU Special Collections and Rare Books holds 17 issues of the USG newsletter, representing volumes 1-4 in their entirety and portions of volumes 5 & 6. A few more issues can be found at the website for the Antipode foundation (https://antipodefoundation.org/2017/06/28/usg-newsletter-archive/).
This collection is comprised of miscellaneous contextual records that serve to illustrate some of the atmosphere and attitudes towards socialist geography that existed at SFU in the 1970’s. There are source project reports that clearly inspired SFU students to develop their own geography project in Vancouver; notes and memos from within the SFU Department of Geography discussing the relative merits of a socialist geography course or agenda; a compilation of collaborative papers generated by USG members for presentation at a conference; and minutes from meetings of the Vancouver chapter of the Union of Socialist Geographers.