The Impact of Place on Robert H. Goddard and His Study of Rocketry

Authors: Melanie Meadors*,
Topics: Behavioral Geography, Historical Geography, Social Theory
Keywords: behavior, place, socially constructed space, Goddard, Worcester
Session Type: Virtual Poster
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 52
Presentation Link: Open in New Window
Presentation File: Download



This poster will exhibit a semester-long study using Robert H. Goddard and his rocketry work to explore the connections between place, the development of personality, and the long term career and social performance of individuals.

The city of Worcester, MA, where Robert H. Goddard grew up and spent most of his life, would have had a large impact on his social development, which in turn would affect much of the rest of his life. Geographical and sociological research has shown the places a person interacts with greatly affect various aspects of their lives, including their politics, religion, education, prejudices, health, and overall personality. Some researchers have found place is just as important to a person’s social development as their interactions with family, friends, and colleagues.

In the context of Goddard’s life, his two biographers, Lehman and Clary, both comment on how growing up in Worcester had a negative effect on Goddard’s career. Both said Goddard grew up to be reticent and close-lipped, unwilling to work with others or share his ideas, because he grew up in such a city where inventions and ideas had to be protected. Yet when one examines the places Goddard interacted with and his behavior while there, a different story can be seen, and a clearer picture of Goddard’s life can emerge. This type of study can help geographers understand how place can affect other people and groups as well, in both historical and modern times.

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