George F. Jenks

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George F. Jenks (1916 - 1996) - 20th-century cartographer, designer of the Jenks Natural Breaks Classification system is known as the "Father of GIS Classification Systems". Dr. George Frederick Jenks, who received a Ph.D. in agricultureal geography at Syracuse University in 1947 [1] pioneered the cartography program at the Univeristy of Kansas. Jenks received an award from the Fund for the Advancement of Science, allowing him to research the best subject matter to include in a cartographic curriculum. The results of his research identified key problems for cartographers in the early 1950's. These problems included mass production techniques to be improved,new inks, papers, and other materials needed, and additional personnel had to be trained.

Contribution to Cartography Education

Cartography had emerged from World War II as a true discipline, in part due to the great demand for war-effort maps and mapping. Jenks’s research led him to identify four key objectives of cartographic training:[2]

  1. Cartographic training should stress the fundamental principles of the entire field
  2. Cartographic training must include numerous opportunities for applying theory to actual map problems
  3. Cartographic training should emcompass a wide range of general and technical courses in allied fields.
  4. Student should come from many disciplines and with varying degrees of intensity.


  1. Jenks, George F. 1967. "The Data Model Concept in Statistical Mapping", International Yearbook of Cartography 7: 186- 190.
  2. McMaster, Robert B. and Susanna McMaster. 2002. A History of Twentieth-Century American Academic Cartography. Cartography and Geographic Information Science 29(3), 305-21.