National Geographic : 1918 Apr
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY IN WAR TIME BY MAJOR-GENERAL A. W. GREELY, U. S. ARMY THE year 1917 was one of broad ened activities and of increased usefulness for the National Geo graphic Society. Its splendid record of an unparalleled increase in membership to 650,000 is the surest proof of the suc cess which continues to attend its efforts to stimulate a national popular interest in the science of geography. In its field-work, as well as in its ac tivities for the diffusion of geographic knowledge, the past 12 months have been particularly fruitful, and its expeditions, especially the one to Mt. Katmai, the world's greatest volcano, and the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, have been crowned with signal success. As an evidence of the Society's desire still further to enlarge its field of serv ice and its sphere of helpful influence, the Board of Managers was unanimous in the wish to extend to President Wil son the invitation of Honorary Mem bership, the highest distinction within the gift of the organization. It was recognized by the Board that the unexampled responsibilities of the present crisis in world history leave the President small opportunity for interests not immediately related to his executive duties, and his acceptances of honorary distinctions have been extremely rare. It was hoped, however, that the activities of the National Geographic Society along patriotic lines might have an especial ap peal to the head of the government. Happily, the President did appreciate and approve the numerous productive war-time activities of the Society, as well as its normal undertakings in the in terest of the increase and diffusion of geographic knowledge. He cordially ac cepted the proffered honorary member ship, which was presented to him in the White House on December 19, 1917, by a committee from the Board of Managers consisting of Hon. Franklin K. Lane, Secretary of the Interior; Brigadier Gen eral John M. Wilson, U. S. A.; Rear Ad miral John E. Pillsbury, U. S. N.; O. H. Tittmann, President of the Society; Gil bert Grosvenor, Director and Editor; John Oliver La Gorce, Associate Editor; Hon. Henry White, John Joy Edson, Grant Squires, and the writer. UPHOLDING THE HANDS OF THOSE IN AUTHORITY President Wilson expressed his pleas ure at the honor conferred and declared that his interest in scientific research had not waned, even though it had been di verted by the critical problems of the hour. He expressed the hope that in the happier days which lie before the nation he might resume his active participa tion in the researches of scientists and scholars. In answer to an inquiry as to the best way in which the Society, through its 650,000 members and the millions of Americans whom it reaches regularly through its official organ, the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, could uphold the hands of those in authority during the war, the President clearly designated certain lines along which the diffusion of accurate geographic data would enlighten the American people and ultimately prove of concrete advantage to the whole world. These suggestions, involving problems of a difficult and complicated nature, have impressed the Board of Managers as of special importance. In determining the best methods of ac complishing these patriotic ends, as well as in carrying forward its regular work, the Society is fortunate in having the ad vice and assistance of many able and dis tinguished Federal officials charged with duties of the highest importance. Espe cially valuable to the Board of Managers is the active cooperation of the Secretary of the Interior, Hon. Franklin K. Lane.