Beale, Calvin L. 1923-2008 (Calvin Lunsford Beale)

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Beale, Calvin L. 1923-2008 (Calvin Lunsford Beale)


See index for CA sketch: Born June 6, 1923, in Washington, DC; died of colon cancer, September 1, 2008, in Washington, DC. Demographer, statistician, and author. Beale spent more than fifty years in the nation's capital as a demographer for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but he was never bound to a desk. His work enabled him to travel from one side of the country to the other. Beale's travels, which reportedly took him to nearly eighty-five percent of the counties of the United States, allowed him to collect population data for his job as a rural demographer, but along the way he also discovered thousands of facts and anecdotes that enriched his understanding of the American people. Beale surprised his colleagues in the 1960s when he reported his observations that some rural populations were beginning to rebound after many years of inexorable decline. His theory contradicted the logical conclusions derived from available data, but when fresh statistics emerged from the federal census of 1970, Beale's hypothesis was confirmed. The leaders of some areas that were once devoted wholly to agriculture had begun a process of remodeling, adding industrial and manufacturing enterprises to the economic base, redefining some communities as recreational or vacation destinations, and taking other steps that represented a proactive approach to population growth. Beale's curiosity extended well beyond the numbers that defined the communities he visited, and his memory for detail was prodigious. He noticed the names and ethnic groups common to certain places, along with the physical details of the landscape and the municipal infrastructure, and he collected anecdotes about communities that made them unique. His miscellaneous observations were collected in the book A Taste of the Country: A Collection of Calvin Beale's Writings (1990). The rest of Beale's books, nearly a dozen of them, were more closely related to his profession, and they reveal the breadth of his scholarly interests. He was the coauthor of Economic Areas of the United States (1961), The French and Non-French in Rural Louisiana (1965), Population Deconcentration in Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Areas of the United States, 1950-1975 (1981), and Rural and Small Town America (1989).



New York Times, September 4, 2008, p. C12.