The Establishment of the National Geographic Society

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, in Washington, D.C., to organize “a society for the increase and diffusion of geographical knowledge.” After preparing 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, succeeded him in 1897. The National Geographic became one of the first magazines to use photographs to tell stories.

A significant change was announced by National Geographic Society and 21st Century Fox on September 9, 2015. The two organizations revealed an “expanded joint venture” that reorganized the Society’s media and publications into a new company known as National Geographic Partners. The agreement made National Geographic magazines and the Society’s cable networks a for-profit venture, 73% owned by 21st Century Fox. National Geographic Society continued as a non-profit, however, with an enhanced endowment from Fox.

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This image is the historical emblem of the National Geographic Society and is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.


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