David Lowenthal

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David Lowenthal
Born 1923
New York City, US
Occupation Academic
Years active 1950–present
Known for Heritage and spatial concepts of the past and future
Title Professor Emeritus of Geography
Parent(s) Max Lowenthal, Eleanor Mack (daughter of Julian Mack)
Academic background
Education Harvard University
Alma mater University of California, Berkeley
Academic work
Discipline Geography
Sub-discipline Historical Geography
Website http://www.geog.ucl.ac.uk/people/emeritus/david-lowenthal

David Lowenthal (born 1923) is an American historian and geographer. He is renowned for his work on heritage.


On April 26, 1923, David Lowenthal was born in New York City to Max Lowenthal and Eleanor Mack.[citation needed] He is also the brother of John Lowenthal.[1]

He earned his PhD in history from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Before this he graduated with a B.S. in history from Harvard University in 1944 and an M.A. in geography from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1950.[2]


Lowenthal served as a research analyst in the U.S. Department of State from 1945 to 1946. From 1952 to 1956, he was an assistant professor of History at Vassar College. From 1956 to 1970 at the University of the West Indies, he was history lecturer, research associate, and a consultant to the vice chancellor. From 1961 to 1972 he worked at the Institute of Race Relations in London. He was a professor of geography at University College, London from 1972 to 1985 and has been an honorary research fellow there since 1986. (From 1958 to 1972, he was also a research associate at the American Geography Society.)[citation needed]


Lowenthal is a specialist in the 19th-century North American philologist, geographer and environmentalist George Perkins Marsh, whose work laid the foundations of the environmental conservation movement in the United States.[3] He has advised international heritage agencies and institutions, including UNESCO, the International Council on Monuments and Sites, the International Council of Museums, ICCROM, the Getty Conservation Institute, the World Monuments Fund, the Council of Europe, Europa Nostra, English Heritage, the U.S. National Trust for Historic Preservation, the National Trust of Australia, and the Norwegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage.[2]

His historical analysis of the ever-changing role of the past in shaping our lives, The Past is a Foreign Country (1985), is widely considered to be a classic text.[4][5] A revised edition, The Past Is a Foreign Country – Revisited, appeared in 2015.[6] Other key texts of his in the field of historical geography include The Heritage Crusade and the Spoils of History (1996), George Perkins Marsh: Prophet of Conservation (2000) and Passage du Temps sur le Paysage (2008).[7]


Lowenthal has been awarded several medals by institutions around the world. These include:

In 1965, Lowenthal received a Guggenheim Fellowship.[12] He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy (FBA) in 2001,[7] received an Honorary Doctorate from Memorial University of Newfoundland in 2008[13] and was awarded the Forbes Lecture Prize by the International Institute for Conservation in 2010.[2][14]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ "Guide to the John Lowenthal Papers TAM.190". New York University. Retrieved 7 April 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works Resources, Forbes Prize Lecture 2010 [1]
  3. ^ Landscape Research Group, About Us, Directors, David Lowenthal
  4. ^ "Sylvester Baxter Lecture: David Lowenthal, 'Conservation Past and Present'", Events, Harvard University Graduate School of Design, November 17, 2014.
  5. ^ University College London, Department of Geography, David Lowenthal at 90 [2]
  6. ^ UCL Retrieved 3 November 2016.
  7. ^ a b British Academy, Fellowship. Fellows Directory, British Academy Fellows [3]
  8. ^ Royal Geographical Society, Medals and Awards, Full List
  9. ^ American Geographical Society, About Us, Awards, The Cullum Geographical Medal [4]
  10. ^ "Scottish Geographical Medal", Inspiring People, Royal Scottish Geographical Society,
  11. ^ "David Lowenthal Receives the British Academy Medal", AAG (American Association of Geographers), October 12, 2016.
  12. ^ John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, Fellows
  13. ^ University College London, Department of Geography, Professor Lowenthal to receive Honorary Doctorate [5]
  14. ^ "Forbes Prize Lecture 2010", University College London, Department of Geography.