American Geographical Society

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The American Geographical Society (AGS) is a geographic society founded in New York City in 1851, making it the oldest geographic society in the United States. Originally founded to aid the search for the missing polar explorer John Franklin , it funded and supported many other expeditions, such as that of Robert Peary , who was also President of the AGS from 1903 to 1907.

Main building at the corner of 156th Street and Broadway

The society dedicated itself to the expansion and dissemination of geographical knowledge and was also open to laypeople.

It was originally called the American Geographical and Statistical Society, which was shortened to the current name in 1871. In the initial phase, the mapping of the American West was of particular importance as a basis for neutral mapping information for the trans-American railways, and from the 1870s the Panama Canal project. This also reflected the origins of the founders, many of whom were wealthy investors and industrialists and many came from government offices. In the early years, three presidents were particularly influential: Charles P. Daly (President 1864 to 1899, also Chief Justice), who greatly expanded the research library, the philanthropist Archer Milton Huntington , who founded the headquarters in New York (President 1907), Ecke 156th Street and Broadway (occupied from 1911), and Isaiah Bowman (President 1915 to 1935), who ran the expansion as a scientific institution and advised Woodrow Wilson on the negotiations for the Versailles Treaty in 1919 with a staff of geographers. In the interwar years they did a lot of mapping in the Spanish-speaking part of America and were involved in the project to map the whole world on a 1: 1 million scale. They also continued to finance polar expeditions, for example to Antarctica in 1947/48 (Finn-Ronne Expedition).

They publish books, maps and, as their main journal, the Geographical Review (from 1916, before that from 1852 the Bulletin of the American Geographical Society), with the 100th volume in 2010. The AGS owns one of the largest private map and book collections on geography. She has been at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee since 1978. They award various prizes such as the Charles P. Daly Medal and honorary membership.

The famous expeditions they funded include John Wesley Powell's to the Grand Canyon (1869).

There are two other major geographic societies in the United States, the National Geographic Society in Washington DC and the Association of American Geographers, the professional association of geographers in the United States.

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