Terry G. Jordan-Bychkov

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For the Nigerian musician, see Terry G.
Terry G. Jordan-Bychkov

Terry G. Jordan-Bychkov (1938–2003) was a Professor at the Department of Geography and the Environment at University of Texas at Austin.


Early life[edit]

Jordan-Bychkov was born on August 9, 1938, in Dallas. Jordan-Bychkov grew up in the northern suburb of University Park, a middle-income neighborhood adjacent to the elite enclave of Highland Park. He attended Highland Park High School, where he developed a lifelong antipathy for people of privilege who did not use their abundant resources in morally and ethically productive ways. He and his family were part of a Methodist church.

Undergraduate Education[edit]

After graduating from high school in 1956, he enrolled at SMU, largely because his father taught there. He took a geography course his first semester and chose geography as one of his two majors (with German). As a senior, Jordan-Bychkov had already decided to devote his life to higher education in geography. Three geography pro- fessors at SMU were instrumental in Jordan-Bychkov's education and career-Edwin J. Foscue, John Bergmann, and Virginia Bradle. Jordan-Bychkov excelled in his undergraduate studies, graduated after three and a half years in January 1960.

Graduate Studies[edit]

Jordan-Bychkov received a $7,000 Southern Teaching Career Fellowship from the Council of Southern Universities for three years of graduate study. Jordan-Bychkov began his graduate studies at The University of Texas in the fall of 1960 at the age of twenty-two and completed his master's program in August 1961. George W. Hoffman, an Austrian by birth and political geographer, directed Jordan-Bychkov's master's thesis, The German Element of Gillespie County, Texas. After graduating from Texas, Jordan-Bychkov took a year away from formal studies.

Jordan-Bychkov began his doctoral work at Wisconsin in 1962. His advisors at SMU and Texas ordained that his dis- sertation advisor would be Andrew Hill Clark, then considered the top historical geographer in the country. Clark unsuccessfully tried to persuade Jordan-Bychkov to choose a region other than Texas for his dissertation, arguing that Texas was not a very promising area for geographic study. The dissertation (later published as German Seed in Texas Soil) relied in large part on archival materials to make an economic argument against the prevailing wisdom that German farmers were more efficient and successful in Texas than local farmer.

Religious Background[edit]

Although Jordan-Bychkov retained a lifelong love of Methodist hymns and a lifelong interest in religion as a cultural phenomenon, he had no personal faith in any organized religion, proclaiming himself a "geotheist" near the end of his life.

President of Association of American Geographers[edit]


Almost immediately after being elected vice president of the AAG in 1986, Terry began preparing for his 1987 presidency. George J. Demko was president in 1986 and made sure that Terry was informed about organizational issues and problems. Terry was duly elected president on April 9, 1987. His most urgent concern was to stop the decline in the proportion of AAG income that went to publications. This proportion had declined from 40 percent in 1977 to a projected 21 percent in 1988. Publications were actually helping to subsidize an expanding central office. On a broader scale, Terry felt that the role of the AAG should be to support research and publications. He did not dispute the importance of geographic education and applied geography, but he felt that the latter aims were best supported by other organizations, notably the National Council on Geographic Education, and the National Geographic Society. He saw no need for the AAG to duplicate the missions of other organizations. Furthermore, he felt that without research and publication, there would be nothing to teach or to apply and that the survival of geography as a discipline would be in danger.

Presidential Columns[edit]

Recognizing that he had little time to make a big impact, Terry prepared a series of presidential columns for the AAG Newsletter. His first column appeared in the August newsletter and argued for subsidizing the publications, as well as creating a new special publication series. He thought it scandalous that the AAG was profiting from its journals, while other professional organizations subsidized theirs. He asked readers to respond and promised to use responses to lobby this position with council and with the publications committee. By August 11, letters began to stream in in response to this appeal. Within two months, he received fifty-nine letters, thirty-seven in favor of his position, six neutral, and sixteen against. Many of the best-recognized research geographers wrote in support of his proposal, as did one entire department; however, on 10 October, the executive committee of the Middle States Division of the AAG voted unanimously against him, and letters of opposition to his position continued to stream in.

Terry had some success in increasing financial support for publications, although not as much as wanted. He followed up his first column with one arguing for a program of translations into English of key foreign language texts. Terry's third column in November addressed the issue of the central office profiting excessively from the annual meetings. The December newsletter con- tained some responses from readers of his August col- umn. The January column reported on his success in getting increased budgetary support for publications. His February column argued for attention to early geographers in America. His March column argued for more book publication, pointing out that in 1976-1985 the American Anthropologist published 2,828 book reviews, while the Annals published only 460 and The Professional Geographer published 1,215. In April, Terry pointed out that native-born American geographers were less pro- ductive in publishing than foreign-born geographers. In May, he wrote perhaps his most controversial column, arguing for a core of scholar-intellectuals, as opposed to "easily justified but nonintellectual enterprises." In June, his final column bemoaned the discipline's anti- intellectualism.

Bella Bychkova[edit]

An important collaborator in his later years was Bella Bychkova. A native of Yakutia in Siberia, she and Jordan fell in love and married in 1997. Their partnership was both romantic and intellectual. Together they authored Siberian Village: Land and Life in the Sakha Republic and collaborated closely on many other projects and field trips. In 1997, in recognition of his marriage to Bella Bychkova, he changed his professional nom de plume to Terry G. Jordan-Bychkov.

Notable publications[edit]

Due to his many publications, Jordan-Bychkov was named one of the ten most productive research geographers in the United States for the period 1945-1977.

For most of Jordan-Bychkov life he published under the name Terry G. Jordan. In 1997 he changed his professional nom de plume to Terry G. Jordan-Bychkov.

  • 2003, The upland South: The making of an American folk region and landscape. Santa Fe, NM: Center for American Places, and Charlottesville: University of Virginia Pres
  • 1997, The Mountain West: Interpreting the Folk Landscape (co-author,)
  • 1993, North American cattle ranching frontiers: Origins, diffusion, and differentiation. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press
  • 1989, (with M. Kaups). The American backwoods frontier: An ethnic and ecological interpretation Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • 1985, American Log Buildings: An Old World Heritage
  • 1982, Texas graveyards: A cultural legacy. Austin: University of Texas Press
  • 1981, Trails to Texas: Southern Roots of Western Cattle Ranching
  • 1978, Texas log buildings: A folk architecture. Austin: University of Texas Press
  • 1966, German seed in Texas soil: Immigrant farmers in nineteenth century Texas Austin: University of Texas Press
  • 1964, Between the forest and the prairie. Agricultural History 38:205-16. Reprinted in Geographic perspectives on America's past: Readings on the historical geography of the United States, ed. David Ward, 50-60. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979

External links[edit]

  • Jordan-Bychkov's Curriculum Vitae [1]