Raymond E. Crist was born October 11, 1904 in Seven Mile, Ohio. He received his B.A degree at the University of Cincinnati in 1925, attended Cornell University 1927-1928, and received his Docteur es Lettres (with honorable mention) from the University of Grenoble in July 1937. He was a Field Geologist in Mexico and Venezuela for the El Aguila and Atlantic Refining Companies from 1926-1931. From 1936-1942 he was an Instructor and Associate at the University of Illinois. He was an Associate Professor of Geography and Chief of the Department of Economic Geography from 1942-1947 and the University of Puerto Rico. From 1947-1951 he was a Professor Geography at the University of Maryland and from 1951 until his retirement he was a Research Professor at the University of Florida. During his teaching years he continued to conduct extensive field research in Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Mexico, Bolivia, and Puerto Rico. He wrote books and articles about his field work.

Crist's papers consist of handwritten diaries, personal, group, and general correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, and reports. The diaries and the transcriptions provide a more in depth look at his research. The voluminous correspondence both hand written and typed include letters of a personal and professional nature. The correspondence is in English, Spanish, French, and German. The photographs show scenes and people in Latin America and Europe. Some of the photographs are identified while others are not.

Dr. Crist's writings reflect an interest beyond the usual research parameters of the field of geography. He had a great interest in the relationship between people and the land on which they lived and farmed. For instance, one of his books Land of the Fellahin means land of the poor.