Monday, September 15, 2008

Calvin Beale, 1923 - 2008

USDA's influential senior demographer Calvin Beale passed away this month at the age of 85. He lent his name unwillingly to the "Beale codes," which measure a locality's rural or urban character on a continuum, and which he modestly credited to a predecessor at USDA. He was also famous for a series of demographic analyses of newly reversed migration flows from urban to rural areas. His most beloved work, which offers a window on the whole United States as well as his own sense of connection to America's rural people and places, is his long series of hundreds of photographs of county courthouses. The Washington Post has an insightful and respectful obituary this week, including a nice interview with John Cromartie, Beales' friend and protege for many years at USDA'S Economic Research Service.

Photo: Calvin Beale. Former courthouse in Johnson County, MO, built in 1838.

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