David Rozman and Land-Use Planning in Massachusetts

By Vaughn, Gerald F. | Historical Journal of Massachusetts, Winter 2003 | Go to article overview

David Rozman and Land-Use Planning in Massachusetts


Vaughn, Gerald F., Historical Journal of Massachusetts


David Rozman was a fascinating man: he possessed uncommon ability to not only study the past but also see into the future. Having fled from strife-torn Russia in 1922, Rozman came to the faculty of the University of Massachusetts in 1927 and until his retirement in 1961 conducted some of the most insightful historical and economic studies of population, industrial, and land-use changes in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Based on these studies, he was instrumental in helping Massachusetts citizens to think about and plan for better land-use. To correctly understand the development of Massachusetts in the twentieth century, it is instructive to review Dr. Rozman's studies, findings, and recommendations. It is equally instructive to examine his life, training, and career, which gave such a forward-looking perspective to his work.

Born in 1895 to Adolph and Esther Rozman in Eupatoria, Russia, a Black Sea port city on the west coast of the Crimean peninsula, David Rozman was educated at Eupatoria's classical gymnasium from 1910 to 1915 preparatory to entering the University of Moscow in 1915 to study economics. He completed three years of undergraduate study before social and economic turmoil in Russia, resulting from World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, forced suspension of his studies.

Conditions had been difficult even prior to World War I. Rozman wrote: "The evils of restricted land transfer are to be seen in Russia before the war where common ownership and periodical redistribution of land in the communes confined peasants to a miserable existence on constantly diminishing land holdings as population grew in numbers."1

During the Bolshevik takeover of the Crimean peninsula soon after the war, Anna Reid indicates: "Sixty thousand Crimeans were killed in less than six months, and another 100,000 died of starvation." She refers to an emigre newspaper that described conditions in Eupatoria as follows:

Bands of gypsies live in the suburbs of the city, dying of hunger. Robberies are innumerable during the night. The soldiers of the Red Army, in rags and bare feet and dying of hunger, attack the inhabitants at nightfall and steal their clothing. The Communists are not exempt from these attacks. The lack of fuel requires that doors and windows are used for heating....

Amidst such terror and hardship, Rozman followed countless other Russians who for decades had emigrated to the United States to seek a better life.2

Nearly a decade later, having become established at Massachusetts State College, Rozman was interviewed about the current Soviet regime and said: "Russia has two roads open to it if it continues to enforce its present form of communistic government, and both of these roads lead to a common goal, namely capitalism as it is found in the other nations of the world. These roads are either a change through forceful revolution or through modification of its present economic standards." What Rozman predicted in 1931 now has come close to reality.3

Rozman emigrated in 1922 to the United States and enrolled as a senior at the University of Wisconsin in Madison; in 1923 he received his bachelor's degree in economics. He married his wife Nadia in 1924 while studying at Wisconsin for the master's degree in economics, which he received in 1926. He and she eventually had one son, David S. Roman.

While at the University of Wisconsin, Rozman became interested in the emerging new field of land economics fathered by one of the university's greatest scholars, Richard T. Ely, director of the famous Institute for Research in Land Economics and Public Utilities. In 1920 Ely founded the Institute for Research in Land Economics and Public Utilities at the University of Wisconsin, in which the study of land and public utility problems was based on knowledge of the nature, significance, evolution, and operation of economic institutions and forces. Ely understood that land problems are basic to many economic activities and, therefore, chose as the institute's motto, "Under all, the land.

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