Kenneth C. Martis

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Kenneth C. Martis is an American political geographer notable for his mapping and documentation of the electoral history of the United States. He is a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Geology and Geography at West Virginia University.

Early life and education[edit]

Martis was born in Toledo, Ohio on December 5, 1945. His four grandparents and father were immigrants from Slovakia. Martis obtained a B.Ed. degree from The University of Toledo in 1968 and a M.A. in geography from San Diego State College (later San Diego State University) in 1970. In 1975 he joined the faculty of West Virginia University and the next year received his Ph.D. in geography from the University of Michigan, studying under political geographer George Kish.

Contributions to Political Geography[edit]

Martis is the author and co-author of seven award winning books on the United States Congress and American politics. The first book in his series of historical political atlases, The Historical Atlas of United States Congressional Districts: 1789-1983, was designated a Selected Reference Book by the journal College and Research Libraries and won the American Historical Association's Waldo G. Leland Prize for the best reference book in all fields of history for the period 1981-1986. The Atlas was the first book in American history to map every congressional district for every election and catalog all state redistricting laws. Based on the archival work for this book, Martis and Ruth A. Rowles were awarded the 1984 Organization of American Historian's Charles Thomson Prize for their article "Mapping Congress: Developing a Geographic Understanding of American Political History."

The Thirty-seventh Congress illustration is an example of the congressional district boundary maps found in The Historical Atlas of United States Congressional Districts: 1789-1983. In the atlas there are ninety-seven national scale district maps, one for each of the first ninety-seven House of Representatives. The Thirty-seventh House (1861-1863) was primarily elected in 1860 and is the first House to convene during the Civil War. The striped areas designate districts in the eleven seceded states which did not send representatives to the United States Congress. However, the House did certify and seat ten “Unionist” members from three seceded states, five from Virginia, three from western Tennessee and two from southern Louisiana (elected after the New Orleans area was occupied). On the page opposite of each map is an alphabetical list of all who served in the House with their state and congressional district number or designation (note in the Thirty-seventh House illustration two members from Minnesota and three from California were not elected from districts but on a General Ticket, that is, statewide). Insert maps are used to illustrate very small districts in densely populated urban areas. Information is found at the bottom of each map giving the session dates, total number of representatives, Speaker, newly admitted states, and map notes indicating vacancies throughout the Congress and any significant state or national boundary changes.

Congressional Districts of the Thirty-Seventh Congress, 1861-1863

In 1989 the second book in his series of political atlases was published, The Historical Atlas of Political Parties in the United States Congress: 1789-1989. The atlas was the first in American history to map all congressional elections for every state and district and identify the political party affiliation of every person elected to Congress from 1788. The Library Journal designated the political party atlas as one of the Best Reference Books of 1989 and College and Research Libraries named it a Selected Reference Book of 1989-90. The Library of Congress selected the political cartography from this work as the centerpiece of its main exhibition on "Tides of Party Politics: Two Centuries of Congressional Elections" celebrating of the 1989 bicentennial of the United States Congress. The data developed for this work is now considered the standard source of political party affiliation of members of Congress by the official Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. In 2013 an article in Real Clear Politics selected the political party atlas as one of the 15 most influential/indispensable books on the subject of American election analysis (ranked #10).

The Eightieth Congress illustration is an example of the election maps found in The Historical Atlas of Political Parties in the United States Congress: 1789-1989. In the atlas there are one hundred large national four-color district election maps for the House of Representatives, and one hundred smaller state election maps for the Senate, for each of the first one hundred congresses. The maps are based upon the results tabulated on the regular Election Day. The Eightieth Congress (1947-1949) was a midterm election, with voting taking place on November 5, 1946 (Maine September 9, 1946). On the large House map blue indicates districts electing a Republican and red designates districts electing a Democrat. Insert maps are used to illustrate the results in very small districts in densely populated urban areas. The atlas identifies and maps all third party members elected to Congress in American history. In the Eightieth House one third party representative was elected, an American-Labor Party candidate from the 18th District of New York. The percentage pie chart on the lower right gives a visual view and specific numbers for the partisan divide in each House. The map and pie chart on the lower left show the geographical pattern and partisan make-up of the Senate. The blue states have two Republican senators, red states two Democrats, and striped states one each. On the page opposite of the map page is a state by state list of all who served in the House and Senate, including replacements by special election or appointment, with their proper state and congressional district number and party affiliation (note in the Eightieth House illustration two representatives from both Arizona and New Mexico were not elected from districts but on a General Ticket, that is, statewide). The atlas facilitates comparisons with the previous Seventy-ninth Congress, and subsequent Eighty-first Congress, and all other congresses, in both geographic pattern and partisan divide. The geographical pattern shown for the Eightieth Congress is a classic post-Civil War regional division of the solid Democratic South and solid Republican North, with some Democrats elected from large urban areas.

Political Parties of the Eightieth Congress (1947-1949)

In 1993 his third book on Congress, co-authored with Gregory A. Elmes, The Historical Atlas of State Power in Congress: 1790-1990 was published. This work maps and analyzes every apportionment change for every state for all of United States history. This work won the 1993 Washington Book Publishers award for best book design.

In 1994 The Historical Atlas of the Congresses of the Confederate States of America: 1861-1865 was published. This book is the first nonmilitary nonbattlefield atlas of the American Civil War. The American Library Association, Choice Magazine, designated this work an Outstanding Academic Book of 1994. In 2002 the Atlas of American Politics: 1960-2000, was published, which Martis co-authored with J. Clark Archer, Stephen J. Lavin, and Fred M. Shelley. This atlas won the American Library Association Outstanding Academic Book Award of 2003. In 2006 he co-authored the Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections: 1788-2004 with the same collaborators; it was the first county four-color atlas of all American presidential elections. In 2006 the Atlas was awarded the Library Journal Best Reference Book prize and the Association of American Publishers Outstanding Single Volume Reference Book in the Humanities & Social Sciences recognition. His most recent book is a 2014 co-edited work titled Atlas of the 2012 Elections. This atlas covers the myriad geographical aspects of the fall 2012 elections on the national, regional, state and county level, and contains nearly 200 maps, graphs and illustrations.

In 2001 he was interviewed for the distinguished "Geographers on Film" series that highlights the career and work of notable American geographers. Kenneth C. Martis is a Professor Emeritus of Geography at West Virginia University and is the first awardee of that institution's highest academic honor, Benedum Distinguished Scholar. He was awarded the 2007 US/West Virginia Professor of the Year Award by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), Washington, DC.

For his work on the historical geography of Congress and American politics he has received support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Science Foundation, Association of American Geographers, Everett McKinley Dirksen Congressional Leadership Research Center, Huntington Library, and the Newberry Library.

Selected works[edit]

  • Atlas of the 2016 Elections, eds. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, forthcoming. (with J. Clark Archer, Robert H. Watrel, Fiona M. Davidson, Erin H. Fouberg, John J. Heppen, Richard L. Morrill, Fred M. Shelley, and Ryan D. Weichelt).
  • Atlas of the 2012 Elections, eds. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014. (with J. Clark Archer, Robert H. Watrel, Fiona M. Davidson, Erin H. Fouberg, Richard L. Morrill, Fred M. Shelley, and Gerald R. Webster).
  • Historical Atlas of U. S. Presidential Elections: 1788-2004. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Press, 2006. (with J. Clark Archer, Stephen J. Lavin, Fred M. Shelley).
  • Atlas of American Politics: 1960-2000. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Press, 2002. (with J. Clark Archer, Stephen J. Lavin, Fred M. Shelley)
  • The Historical Atlas of the Congresses of the Confederate States of America: 1861-1865. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994. (with Gyula Pauer - Cartographer and R. Reed Durbin - Research Assistant).
  • The Historical Atlas of State Power in Congress: 1790-1990. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Press, 1993. (with Gregory A. Elmes).
  • The Historical Atlas of Political Parties in the United States Congress: 1789-1989. New York: Macmillan, 1989. (with Ruth A. Rowles and Gyula Pauer – Cartographers).
  • The Historical Atlas of United States Congressional Districts: 1789-1983. New York: The Free Press, 1982. (with Ruth A. Rowles - Cartographer).
  • "Geographical Patterns of Reapportionment, 1790-2000," Guide to U.S. Elections. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Press, 2005. 863-864.
  • "Reapportionment, Regional Politics and Partisan Gain." Extensions: A Journal of the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center. Winter 2015, 18-21. (with J. Clark Archer, Robert H. Watrel, Fred M. Shelley, and Gerald R. Webster).
  • Database of Historical Congressional Statistics. Blacksburg, Virginia: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Department of Political Science, 2001. http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/icpsrweb/ICPSR/studies/03371. Elaine K. Swift, Robert G. Brookshire, David T. Canon, Evelyn C. Fink, John R. Hibbing, Brian D. Humes, Michael J. Malbin and Kenneth C. Martis.
  • “The Original Gerrymander.” Political Geography. Vol. 27, No. 4. November 2008, 833-839. See the Wikipedia article, Gerrymandering, to which Martis added research findings in 2010.
  • "Sectionalism and the United States Congress." Political Geography Quarterly. Vol. 7, No. 2, April 1988, 99-109.
  • "Mapping Congress: Developing a Geographic Understanding of American Political History." Prologue: The Journal of the National Archives. Vol. 16, No. 1, Spring 1984, 4-21. (with Ruth A. Rowles).
  • "The History of Natural Resources Roll-Call Voting in the United States House of Representatives: An Analysis of the Spatial Aspects of Legislative Voting Behavior." Ph.D. Dissertation, Department of Geography, The University of Michigan, 1976.
  • "Tides of Party Politics: Two Centuries of Congressional Elections 1789-1989," Museum exhibition, February–August, 1989, Library of Congress, Madison Building, Washington, DC (with John R. Sellers and Ingrid M. Maar, with introduction by Cokie Roberts).
  • North America: The Historical Geography of a Changing Continent. Thomas F. McIlwraith and Edward K. Muller, eds. (Totowa, New Jersey: Rowman & Littlefield, 2001), Chapter Seven “The Geographical Dimensions of a New Nation, 1780s-1820s,” 143-164.
  • Atlas of the 2008 Elections. Stanley D. Brunn, ed. (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2011), Chapter Nine “Post 2008 Congressional Votes,” 277-291.
  • Jefferson County Commission v. Tennant. Expert witness in federal court on congressional redistricting December 2011, Charleston, WV (Case No. 2:11-cv-0989). https://casetext.com/case/jefferson-cnty-commn-v-tennant#.U44lQfldUts.
  • "Electoral Map." Roger Kain, ed. The History of Cartography, Volume Five: Cartography in the Nineteenth Century. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, forthcoming.
  • "Electoral Map." Mark Monmonier, ed. The History of Cartography, Volume Six: Cartography in the Twentieth Century. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015, 349-55.
  • “Regional Realignments: Appalachia and the Upper South,” in "Spatial and Political Realignment of the U.S. Electorate, 1988-2012." Gerald R. Webster and Richard L. Morrill. Political Geography, Vol. 48, 2015, 93-107.
  • Digital Boundary Definitions of United States Congressional Districts, 1789-2012. Los Angeles, California: University of California Los Angeles, Department of Political Science, 2013. http://cdmaps.polisci.ucla.edu. Jeffrey B. Lewis, Brandon DeVine, Lincoln Pitcher, and Kenneth C. Martis.

External links[edit]