national-geographic-society-founded

The National Geographic Society began as a club for an elite group of academics and wealthy patrons interested in travel.  On January 13, 1888, 33 explorers and scientists gathered at the Cosmos Club, a private club then located on Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C., to organize “a society for the increase and diffusion of geographical knowledge.”

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After preparing a constitution and a plan of organization, the National Geographic Society was incorporated two weeks later on January 27.  

Gardiner Green Hubbard

Gardiner Green Hubbard

Gardiner Greene Hubbard became its first president and his son-in-law, Alexander Graham Bell, eventually succeeded him in 1897 following his death.

Alexander Graham Bell

Alexander Graham Bell

In 1899 Bell’s son-in-law Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor was named the first full-time editor of National Geographic Magazine and served the organization for fifty-five years (1954), and members of the Grosvenor family have played important roles in the organization since.  

Gilbert Grosvenor Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor

Gilbert Grosvenor Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor

Bell and his son-in-law, Grosvenor, devised the successful marketing notion of Society membership and the first major use of photographs to tell stories in magazines.

In January 2013, the National Geographic Society celebrated 125 years.

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