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History of The National Geographic Society

Updated on October 28, 2012

I remember before my mom passed away, the last Christmas gift she gave me was a year’s subscription to National Geographic Magazine. Over the years, I’ve subscribed a time or two, but not consistently. Recently, I ordered calendars for 2013, one for myself, one for my daughter and one for her kids. I also ordered an engagement calendar for myself to help me keep track of schoolwork and such.

Inside the cover of the engagement calendar was a note that told a little history about the National Geographic Society and I decided I wanted to share this information.

2013 marks the 125th anniversary of the National Geographic Society (NGS). The first president of the Society as Gardiner Greene Hubbard who was followed in 1897 by Alexander Graham Bell, who was also Hubbard’s son in law. Mr. Bell’s son in law, Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor, was the first full time editor of National Geographic Magazine and served in that position for fifty-five years. In 2008, Gilbert Melville Grosvenor, as Chairman of the Board of Trustees, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The first National Geographic Magazine was published nine months after the society was founded. The title was later shortened to National Geographic. It is the official journal of the National Geographic Society. The magazine is published in 31 languages and has more than 50 million readers per month.

The historical mission of the National Geographic Society is to “increase and diffuse geographic knowledge while promoting the conservation of the world’s cultural, historical and natural resources,” ( NGS has an education program combating illiteracy and has funded more than 7,500 scientific research projects.

National Geographic Magazine is known for its famous photography. The first photograph in National Geographic Magazine was an engraving of a topographic map of North America and it appeared in 1889.

Considered the Society’s most prestigious honor, the Hubbard Medal is awarded by the NGS for distinction in exploration, discovery and research. Past recipients include Charles Lindbergh in 1927 and Anne Morrow Lindbergh in 1934; Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin and Michael Collins in 1970; Jane Goodall in 1995 and many others.

National Geographic stories are shown on television with specials as well as series shown on PBS and other networks. The first was shown in 1964 and featured many famous figures such as Louis Leakey, Jacques Cousteau and Jane Goodall. National Geographic launched the National Geographic Channel in 2001 and you can also watch some great shows on NatGeoWild.

On the NGS website,, you can find games for kids, daily news, a blog, maps and even teaching resources. Also, there is an array of photographs, information about travel and there are even apps for your ipad, iphone and ipod touch as well as books for kindle and NOOK.

I enjoy reading my National Geographic every month when it comes. My grand children enjoy their National Geographic Kids too. My mom started the tradition with me, I hope my grandchildren develop a love for NatGeo like I have.




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    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

      4 years ago from Philippines

      As a child I grew up reading National Geographic and I used to dream of travelling to all the places they featured. I remember Louis Leakey and Jacques Cousteau but never knew that National Geographic made them stars. Now the magazine has evolved to include so many TV shows. Here's a publication that never lost sight of its mission and vision. Well, when it ain't broke, why fix it? Thank you for such interesting information, which has helped bring me back to happy times from my past.

    • lindalou1963 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Texas

      I would have too!

    • profile image

      Old Poolman 

      6 years ago

      I stopped at a local thrift store today just to look around. There in the corner was a huge stack of National Geographic. This bundle containing 25 magazines and tied neatly with string was selling for $1.50. Needless to say I bought it.

    • lindalou1963 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Texas

      I agree! Its one of my favorites!

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 

      6 years ago from Upstate, New York

      I grew up reading the National Geographic. My grandfather had a subscription, my father and now I. Much knowledge was gained by this unique magazine growing up and I continue to reap the rewards today!

    • lindalou1963 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Texas

      Thank you for stopping by and for sharing!

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 

      6 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Voted up and awesome. Thanks for this very interesting and informative hub. Passing this on.

    • GClark profile image


      6 years ago from United States

      Interesting and informative. I remember reading National Geographic a lot while growing up - it opened whole new worlds for me.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It is a tradition that seems to cross all age and race is simply a marvelous magazine and organization. I was lucky enough to attend a Leadership Conference for teacher in 1997, held at the NG headquarters in Washington teaching workshop/experience ever.

      Well done my friend!

    • lindalou1963 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Texas

      Thank you so much!

    • profile image

      Old Poolman 

      6 years ago

      Thanks for this great reminder. I have read this off and on for years, and learned a great deal about other places in the world by doing so. I too have subscribed off and on, but now mainly read this magazine while sitting in a Doctors or Dentists waiting room.

      I think I will subscribe again since you wrote this hub and reminded me how much I have always enjoyed this reading.

    • lindalou1963 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Texas

      Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it!

    • janshares profile image

      Janis Leslie Evans 

      6 years ago from Washington, DC

      Great hub, lindlou. Important milestone for you to acknowledge. Voted up and interesting.

    • lindalou1963 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Texas

      Thank you for stopping by!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      6 years ago

      I remember my parents ordered this magazine for us kids when we were young. I recall skimming through the pages and reading all that I could on nature and such. Great post here on this popular magazine.


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