Holdsworth, Deryck W.

I am a historical geographer interested in the long-term transformations of regions and places, and my research tracks specific built environments - office buildings, domestic shelter, Quaker meeting houses, and small-town hotels, to name a few – using a range of archival and field evidence. I am also interested in ways of visualizing change, including displays in historical atlases, from my time as one of the editorial team for the Historical Atlas of Canada, and now through Historical GIS (See Linking Words and Worlds of Trade).

I also study preservation policy and practice, and have had a long-time interest in the applications of historical research, including work on the architectural and economic revitalization of Main Street, for the Heritage Canada Foundation (Reviving Main Street, 1985) as well as participation in heritage evaluation (member of the State Preservation Board in Pennsylvania, 1990-94) and heritage inventory (co-author with Jackie Melander of two National Register of Historic Places nominations for State College, PA).

Contact Information

Office address
320 Walker Building
University Park PA 16802

Phone: 814-865-1044



  • Professor, faculty member since 1987
  • B.A., Geography, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  • M.A., Geography, Ph.D., Geography, University of British Columbia, Canada
  • Research: historical geography, urban historical geography


Recent Publications

Holdsworth, D.W., The counting-house library: creating mercantile knowledge in the age of sail, in Ogborn, M. and Withers, C., eds., Geographies of the Book, London: Ashgate, 2010, 133-56.

Fyfe, D.A., Holdsworth, D.W, and Weaver, C., Historical GIS and visualization: insights from three hotel guest registers in central Pennsylvania, 1888-1897. Social Science Computer Review 27, 3 (2009): 348-62.

Fyfe, D.A. and Holdsworth, D.W., Signatures of commerce in small-town hotel guest registers. Social Science History 33, 1 (2009): 17-45.

Ennals, P. and Holdsworth, D.W., Looking backward and moving forward: early house building patterns among the Yorkshire settlers of Chignecto. Material Culture Review, 65 (2007): 32-45.

Weaver C., Fyfe, D., Robinson, A., Holdsworth, D., Peuquet, D., and A.M. MacEachren, Visual exploration and analysis of historic hotel visits. Information Visualization 6 (1) (2007): 89-103.

Holdsworth, D.W., Buildings as settings for seeing systems and networks, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, 65,1 (2006) 18-20.

Sample Earlier Publications

Holdsworth, D.W., Historical geography: The octopus in the garden and in the fields. Progress in Human Geography 28, 4 (2004): 528-35.

Holdsworth, D.W., Historical geography: new ways of imaging and seeing the past. Progress in Human Geography 27, 4 (2003): 486-93.

Holdsworth, D.W., Historical geography: the ancients and the moderns - generational vitality. Progress in Human Geography 26,5 (2002): 671-78.

Ennals, P. and Holdsworth, D.W., Homeplace: The Making of the Canadian Dwelling over Three Centuries. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1998.

Holdsworth, D.W., "I'm a lumberjack and I'm OK": Varied masculinities and the built environment in the industrial age. In B. Cromley and C. Hudgins, eds., Gender, Class, and Shelter; Perspectives in Vernacular Architecture V. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1995, 11-25.

Holdsworth, D.W., Re-valuing the house. In D. F. Ley and J. Duncan, eds., Place/Culture/Representation. London: Routledge, 1993, 95-109.

Holdsworth, D.W., Morphological change in lower Manhattan, New York, 1893-1920. In J.W.R. Whitehand and P.J. Larkham, eds., Urban Landscapes: International Perspectives. London, Routledge, 1992, 114-29.

Fenske, G. and Holdsworth, D.W., Corporate identity and the New York office building, 1895-1915. In D. Ward and O. Zunz, eds., The Landscape of Modernity: Essays on New York City, 1900-1940. New York: Russell Sage, 1992, 129-159.

Kerr, D. and Holdsworth, D.W., (eds), Historical Atlas of Canada III: Addressing the Twentieth Century, 1891-1961. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990.

Holdsworth, D.W., The Parking Authority of Toronto 1952-1987. Toronto: The Parking Authority of Toronto, 1987.

Holdsworth, D.W., (ed.) Reviving Main Street. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1985.

Awards and Honors

  • Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship (1968-70)

  • Gold Medal, The Royal Canadian Geographical Society (1994) 

  • Centenary Medal, The Royal Society of Canada (1994)
  • Exceptional Scholarly Contribution to Cartography, Canadian Cartography Association (1994) 

  • Wilson Research Award, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, PSU (1995)
  • Mitchell Award for Innovative Teaching, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, PSU (2006)
  • Wilson Teaching Award, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, PSU (2007)
    Ruby S. and E. Willard Miller Professorship in Geography (2007-10) 
  • Penn State Alumni Association Teaching Fellow (2008-11)

Teaching Interests

Geography 122: The American Scene
Geography 423Y: Historical Geography of North America
Geography 427: Urban Historical Geography
Geography 597: Historical Geography Seminar

Current Advisees

PhD: Kieron Branche,  Roberto Albandoz Carrasquillo,  Jeremy Fisher, Patrick Hagge, Thomas Sigler, Chelsea Teale

MS: Teresina Bailey

MGIS: Gail Brown, James Kompanek

Past Doctoral Advisees

  • Seth Dixon, Geography, Rhode Island College
  • David Fyfe, Geography, York College

  • Michael Glass, Urban Studies, University of Pittsburgh

  • Kaori Nomura, Geography, Shippensburg University
  • Hank Rademacher, Universitaat Saarland, Saarbrucken, Germany

  • Hilary Anne Frost-Kumpf, Global Studies, University of Illinois at Springfield

  • Laura Geller, Geography, Bloomsburg University, PA
  • Frank Boscoe, Research Scientist, Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Health, NYS Department of Health, Albany, NY

  • Sam Dennis, Landscape Architecture, University of Wisconsin at Madison
  • Brad Hunter, Defense Analyst, Washington, D.C. 

  • Dai Chui, Business School, University of Utah 

  • Wolfgang Hoeschele, Geography, Truman State, Missouri
  • Larry McGlinn, Geography, SUNY New Platz

Past Maters Advisees (most recent first)

  • John Clark
  • John Morrow
  • Patrick Hagge
  • Dave Watkins (MGIS) 
  • Jeremy Fisher  
  • Sam Smith  
  • Wes Stroh 
  • Matthew Hartzell 
  • Jennifer Mapes

  • Rob Murray

  • Joel Staub

  • David Fyfe

  • Jennifer Nolan 

  • Brian McManus 

  • Stephen LeDuc 

  • Amy Fox 

  • Kaori Nomura
Mark Harrington 

  • David Brown 

  • Gareth John
Mike Carlin 

  • Owen Dwyer

  • Sam Dennis 

  • Ewan Allison
Jen Gober 
  • Alan Brenner

  • Mandy Shear
Laura Geller 

  • Nancy Smith 

  • Catherine Reeves
Patrick Trimble
Randall Mason

  • Don Mitchell