The founding of the National Geographic Society
On January 27, 1888, the National Geographic Society is founded in Washington, D.C., for “the increase and diffusion of geographical knowledge.”
The 33 men who originally met and formed the National Geographic Society were a diverse group of geographers, explorers, teachers, lawyers, cartographers, military officers and financiers. All shared an interest in scientific and geographical knowledge, as well as an opinion that in a time of discovery, invention, change and mass communication, Americans were becoming more curious about the world around them. With this in mind, the men drafted a constitution and elected as the Society’s president a lawyer and philanthropist named Gardiner Greene Hubbard. Neither a scientist nor a geographer, Hubbard represented the Society’s desire to reach out to the layman. Other members of note included Alexander Graham Bell, Adolphus Greely, Cleveland Abbe, and George Melville.
Nine months after its inception, the Society published its first issue of National Geographic magazine. Readership did not grow, however, until Gilbert H. Grosvenor took over as editor in 1899. In only a few years, Grosvenor boosted circulation from 1,000 to 2 million by discarding the magazine’s format of short, overly technical articles for articles of general interest accompanied by photographs. National Geographic quickly became known for its stunning and pioneering photography, being the first to print natural-color photos of sky, sea and the North and South Poles.
The Society used its revenues from the magazine to sponsor expeditions and research projects that furthered humanity’s understanding of natural phenomena. In this role, the National Geographic Society has been instrumental in making possible some of the great achievements in exploration and science. To date, it has funded more than 10,000 scientific research, conservation and exploration projects around the globe. Past and current grantees include polar explorer Robert Peary; Hiram Bingham, excavator of the lost Inca city of Machu Picchu; anthropologists Louis and Mary Leakey; mountain gorilla expert Dian Fossey; author and historian Stephen Ambrose; underwater explorer and discoverer of the sunken Titanic Robert Ballard; anthropologist Wade Davis; marine biologist Sylvia Earle; high-altitude archaeologist Johan Reinhard; Richard Byrd and the first flight over the South Pole; Jane Goodall and her work with chimpanzees; and paleontologist Paul Sereno.
Today, the National Geographic Society is one of the world’s largest non-profit scientific and educational institutions. National Geographic continues to sell as a glossy monthly, with a circulation of around 9 million. The Society also sees itself as a guardian of the planet’s natural resources, and in this capacity, focuses on ways to broaden its reach and educate its readers about the unique relationship that humans have with the earth.
In celebration of this great organization, Here is Deputy Dave’s Drink of the Day: Explorer’s Reward
1 1/3 oz coconut rum
1 1/3 oz melon liqueur
1/3 oz dry sherry
1 1/3 oz whipping cream
Shake and strain into a champagne saucer. Garnish with a cherry, and serve.0
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