- National Geographic Society
National Geographic Society
Logo of the National Geographic Society
Abbreviation NGS Motto "Inspiring people to care about the planet." Formation Gardiner Greene Hubbard, January 27, 1888 Location Washington, D.C., USA Membership 8.5 million President John M. Fahey, Jr. (1998- ) Chairman Gilbert M. Grosvenor (1987- ) Main organ Board of Trustees Website NationalGeographic.com
The National Geographic Society (NGS), headquartered in Washington, D.C. in the United States, is one of the largest non-profit scientific and educational institutions in the world. Its interests include geography, archaeology and natural science, the promotion of environmental and historical conservation, and the study of world culture and history. The National Geographic Society’s logo is a yellow portraitframe - rectangular in shape - which appears on the margins surrounding the front covers of its magazines and as its channel logo.
The National Geographic Society's historical mission is "to increase and diffuse geographic knowledge while promoting the conservation of the world's cultural, historical, and natural resources." Its President and CEO since March 1998, John M. Fahey, Jr., says National Geographic's purpose is to inspire people to care about their planet. The Society is governed by a twenty-three member Board of Trustees composed of a group of distinguished educators, leading business executives, former governmental officials, and conservationists.
The organization sponsors and funds scientific research and exploration. The Society publishes an official journal, National Geographic Magazine, and other magazines, books, school products, maps, other publications, web and film products in numerous languages and countries around the world. It also has an educational foundation that gives grants to education organizations and individuals to enhance geography education. Its Committee for Research and Exploration has given grants for scientific research for most of the Society's history and has recently awarded its 9,000th grant for scientific research, conducted worldwide and often reported on by its media properties.
Its various media properties reach about 360 million people around the world monthly. National Geographic maintains a museum free for the public in its Washington, D.C. headquarters, and has helped to sponsor popular traveling exhibits such as the "King Tut" exhibit featuring magnificent artifacts from the tomb of the young Egyptian Pharaoh, which toured in several American cities, ending its U.S. showing at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. The Tut exhibit is currently in Atlanta.
Another National Geographic exhibit of "The Cultural Treasures of Afghanistan" opened in May 2008 at the National Gallery of Art in Washington. The exhibit will travel over the next eighteen months to the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, and the Metropolitan Museum in New York City. In November 2008, National Geographic opened a major retail store on Regent Street in London.
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." After preparing a constitution and a plan of organization, the National Geographic Society was incorporated two weeks later on January 27. Gardiner Greene Hubbard became its first president and his son-in-law, Alexander Graham Bell, eventually succeeded him in 1897 following his death. 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.
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. The current Chairman of the Board of Trustees of National Geographic is Gilbert Melville Grosvenor, who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005 for the Society's leadership for Geography education. In 2004, the National Geographic Headquarters in Washington, D.C. was one of the first buildings to receive a "Green" certification from Global Green USA. The National Geographic received the prestigious Prince of Asturias Award for Communications and Humanity in October 2006 in Oviedo, Spain.
The National Geographic Magazine, later shortened to National Geographic, published its first issue (October 1888) nine months after the Society was founded as the Society's official journal, a benefit for joining the tax exempt National Geographic Society. The magazine has had for many years a trademarked yellow border around the edge of its cover.
There are 12 monthly issues of National Geographic per year, plus at least four additional map supplements. On rare occasions, special issues of the magazine are also created. The magazine contains articles about geography, popular science, world history, culture, current events and photography of places and things all over the world and universe. The National Geographic magazine is currently published in 32 language editions in many countries around the world. Combined English and other language circulation is nearly nine million monthly with more than fifty million readers monthly.
In addition to its flagship magazine, the Society publishes six other periodicals in the United States:
- National Geographic Kids: launched in 1975 as National Geographic World, it adopted its current name in 2001. It has a U.S. circulation of over 1.5 million. There are also currently 18 local language editions of NG Kids, with another half million in circulation. An Arabic edition of the children's magazine was launched in Egypt in early 2007, and more than 42,000 copies are distributed to all the public schools in Egypt, in addition to another 15,000 single copy sales. More recently, an Albanian and Polish edition were launched.
- National Geographic Little Kids: for children aged 3–6
- National Geographic Traveler: launched in 1984. There are 15 local-language editions of NG Traveler.
- National Geographic Adventure: launched in 1999
- National Geographic Explorer: classroom magazine launched in 2001 as National Geographic for Kids, which has grown to about 2½ million circulation.
- National Geographic Green Guide: Launched in 2003, tips to consumers of how to live a "greener" life. The print version was discontinued in January 2009.
- Glimpse Magazine (in association with National Geographic)
- National Geographic Exploring History, which made its debut in Fall, 2011
- Treasures of the Earth a collection about minerals and gemstones
The Society also runs an online news outlet called National Geographic News.
The Society previously published:
- The National Geographic School Bulletin, magazine similar to the National Geographic but aimed at grade school children, was published weekly during the school year from 1919 to 1975, when it was replaced by National Geographic World.
- During the 1980s and 1990s, it published a research journal which later closed.
In October 2007, National Geographic created a new Global Media group composed of its magazine, book publishing, television, film, music, radio, digital media and maps units. Tim Kelly, 51, president and CEO of National Geographic Ventures, has been named president, Global Media.
Programs by the National Geographic Society are also broadcast on television. National Geographic television specials as well as television series have been aired on PBS and other networks in the United States and globally for many years. The Geographic series in the U.S. started on CBS in 1964, moved to ABC in 1973 and shifted to PBS (produced by WQED, Pittsburgh) in 1975. National Geographic Channel, launched in January 2001, is a joint venture of National Geographic Television & Film and Fox Broadcasting Company. It has featured stories on numerous scientific figures such as Louis Leakey, Jacques Cousteau, or Jane Goodall that not only featured their work but helped make them world-famous and accessible to millions. A majority of the specials were narrated by various actors, including Glenn Close, Stacy Keach, Richard Kiley, Susan Sarandon, Martin Sheen and Peter Strauss. The specials' theme music, by Elmer Bernstein, was also adopted by the National Geographic Channel. The National Geographic Channel has begun to launch a number of subbranded channels in international markets, such as Nat Geo Wild, Nat Geo Adventure, Nat Geo Junior, and Nat Geo Music.
National Geographic Films, a wholly owned taxable subsidiary of the National Geographic Society, has also produced a feature film based on the diary of a Russian submarine commander starring Harrison Ford in K-19: The Widowmaker, and most recently retooling a French-made documentary for U.S. distribution with a new score and script narrated by Morgan Freeman called March of the Penguins, which received an Academy Award for the Best Documentary in 2006. After a record $77 million theatrical gross in the United States, over four million DVD copies of March of the Penguins have been sold. National Geographic Films launched a new feature film in July called Arctic Tale, featuring the story of two families of walrus and polar bears. Queen Latifah is the narrator of this film. Inspired by a National Geographic Magazine article, National Geographic opened in October 2007 a 3-D large format and Reality 3-D film called Sea Monsters, with a musical score by Peter Gabriel. National Geographic Films is co-producing with Edward Norton and Brad Pitt the 10-hour mini series of Steven Ambrose's award-winning Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson and the Opening of the American West for HBO.
Support for research and projects
The Society has helped sponsor many expeditions and research projects over the years, including:
- Codex Tchacos - Conservation and translation of the only known surviving copy of the Gospel of Judas
- Ian Baker - Discovers hidden waterfall of the Tsangpo Gorge, Tibet
- Robert Ballard - RMS Titanic (1985) and John F. Kennedy's PT-109 (2002) discovery
- Robert Bartlett - Arctic Exploration (1925–45)
- George Bass - Underwater archaeology - Bronze Age trade
- Lee Berger - Oldest footprints of modern humans ever found
- Hiram Bingham - Machu Picchu Excavation (1915)
- Richard E. Byrd - First flight over South Pole (1929)
- Jacques-Yves Cousteau - Undersea exploration
- Mike Fay - MegaTransect (1999) and MegaFlyover (2004) in Africa
- Dian Fossey - Mountain gorillas
- Birute Galdikas - Orangutans
- Jane Goodall - Chimpanzees
- Robert F. Griggs - Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes (1916)
- Heather Halstead - World Circumnavigations of Reach the World
- Louis and Mary Leakey - Discovery of manlike Zinjanthropus, more than 1.75 million years old
- Gustavus McLeod - First flight to the North Pole in an open-air cockpit aircraft
- Robert Peary and Matthew Henson - North Pole Expedition (1905)
- Paul Sereno - Dinosaurs
- Will Steger - Polar Exploration & First Explorer-in-Residence 1996
- Spencer Wells - The Genographic Project
- Xu Xing - Discovery of fossil dinosaurs in China that have distinct feathers
The Society supports many socially based projects including AINA, a Kabul-based organization dedicated to developing an independent Afghan media, which was founded by one of the Society's most famous photographers, Reza.
The Society also sponsors the National Geographic Bee, an annual geographic contest for American middle-school students. More than four million students a year begin the geography competition locally, which culminates in a national competition of the winners of each state each May in Washington, D.C. Alex Trebek has moderated the final competition since the competition began some seventeen years ago. Every two years, the Society conducts an international geography competition of competing teams from all over the world. The most recent was held in Mexico City on July 15, 2009, and had representatives from 15 national teams. The team from Canada emerged as the winner, with teams from the United States and Poland in second and third place.
The Hubbard Medal is awarded by the National Geographic Society for distinction in exploration, discovery, and research. The medal is named for Gardiner Greene Hubbard, the first National Geographic Society president. The Hubbard Medal has been presented 34 times as of 2000, the most recent award going posthumously to Matthew Henson, Robert Peary's fellow Arctic explorer.
Alexander Graham Bell Medal
The National Geographic Society also awards, rarely, the Alexander Graham Bell Medal, for exceptional contributions to geographic research. The award is named after Alexander Graham Bell, scientist, inventor and the second president of the NGS. Up to mid-2011, the medal has been twice presented:
Lutz and Collins
In their book Reading National Geographic, Catherine Lutz and Jane Collins argue that the D.C.-based National Geographic Society is intimately tied to the American establishment and "cultivates ties to government officials and corporate interests". Tamar Rothenberg also wrote that the Society's flagship publication National Geographic, as a part of mainstream popular culture, has historically helped to articulate a particularly American identity in opposition to "both old Europe and primitive non-Western regions... an identity of civic and technological superiority but yet, a distinctly benign and friendly identity".
Lutz and Collins described how National Geographic photographs were sometimes electronically manipulated. In one photo of bare-breasted Polynesian women, their skin color was darkened. The book also documented how NG photographers have encouraged their subjects to change costumes when their clothing was seen as "too drab" for the magazine. Summarizing an analysis of NG photographs from 1950–1986, the authors argued the following themes: "The people of the third and fourth worlds are portrayed as exotic; they are idealized; they are naturalized and taken out of all but a single historical narrative; and they are sexualized. Several of these themes wax and wane in importance through the postwar period, but none is ever absent."
- National Geographic Magazine
- Royal Geographical Society
- Royal Canadian Geographical Society
- Maps of the United States
- National Geographic Bee
- Nicholas DeVore III
- Genographic Project
- ^ "National Geographic Press Room: Fact Sheet". National Geographic Society. http://press.nationalgeographic.com/pressroom/index.jsp?pageID=factSheets_detail&siteID=1&cid=1225283738357. Retrieved August 28, 2009. Also note that, as of August 28, 2009 (and likely before), the official website title is "National Geographic - Inspiring People to Care About the Planet".
- ^ "National Geographic Online". National Geographic Society. http://www.nationalgeographic.com/.
- ^ "National Geographic Education Foundation". National Geographic Society. http://www.nationalgeographic.com/foundation/about.html.
- ^ "National Geographic Society". U.S. Department of State. http://www.state.gov/p/io/unesco/members/48805.htm.
- ^ Site designed by Shannon Roberts (2007-04-24). "National Geographic CEO Says Nonprofit's Mission is Bringing the World to Readers". Mccombs.utexas.edu. http://www.mccombs.utexas.edu/news/pressreleases/fahey07.asp. Retrieved 2010-06-06.
- ^ [dead link]
- ^ Global Green
- ^ Stableford, Dylan. "National Geographic Discontinues Green Guide - Consumer @". Foliomag.com. http://www.foliomag.com/2008/national-geographic-discontinues-green-guide-print. Retrieved 2010-06-06.
- ^ Explorer-in-Residence
- ^ Allen Counter accepts Hubbard medal for Henson
- ^ David Braun (July 13, 2010"Nat Geo awards Alexander Graham Bell Medals to GIS pioneers". National Geographic Society. http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2010/07/13/nat_geo_awards_alexander_graha/. Retrieved June 22, 2011.).
- ^ "Bradford and Barbara Washburn, Climbers". National Geographic Society. http://www.nationalgeographic.com/field/explorers/washburns/?source=A-to-Z. Retrieved June 22, 2011.
- ^ Lutz, Catherine and Jane Collins (1993), Reading National Geographic, p. 5.
- ^ Rothenberg, Tamar (2007), Presenting America's World: Strategies of Innocence in National Geographic Magazine, 1888–1945, p. 5.
- ^ a b c Iezza, Cora McGovern. "Reading Reading National Geographic". 1997. (Via the Internet Archive.)
- ^ Lutz, Catherine and Jane Collins (1993), Reading National Geographic, p. 89.
- Poole, Robert M. (2004). Explorers House: National Geographic and the World it Made. New York: Penguin. ISBN 1594200327.
- Official websites
- Official website
- National Geographic Magazine Online
- National Geographic for Kids
- National Geographic News
- National Geographic Photography
- National Geographic Maps
- National Geographic Maps TOPO! Explorer
- National Geographic Channel
- National Geographic Traveler
- National Geographic Museum at Explorers Hall
- EarthPulse - A Visual Guide to Global Trends
- Everyday Explorers
- National Geographic Expeditions
- National Geographic Education Foundation
- Additional resources
- National Geographic Libraries & Information Services
- NGS Collectors Corner - managed by National Geographic Libraries' Archives.
- National Geographic Official YouTube Channel
- Additional information
- Photos, maps, and other images
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