National Geographic : 1957 Oct
History of the National Geographic Announcing Publication of "The National Geographic Society and Its Magazine: A History," by Dr. Gilbert Grosvenor T HE story of the growth of the National Geographic Society from a small, strug gling organization to a world force for knowledge and understanding has now been told by the one man best qualified to tell it Dr. Gilbert Grosvenor, for 55 years the guid ing genius of The Society and its Magazine. Looking back over those golden years of editorship, Dr. Grosvenor, now Chairman of the Board, shares with members the rich ex periences of one who has roamed the world "with a hungry heart." With a wealth of photographs and anecdote, he recalls the trials and triumphs of building "the magazine with no future"-as scoffers once dubbed the Na tional Geographic-into the world-renowned publication it is today. The Society's 2,175,000 members make it by far the largest scientific and educational society in the world. But there seemed little portent of startling future growth in 1899 when Gilbert Grosvenor reported to work as The Society's staff of one. Alexander Graham Bell, President of The So ciety from 1898 to 1903, had asked the 23-year-old schoolteacher to take charge of The Magazine and pro mote the membership. Dr. Grosvenor vividly de scribes his first days in The Society's headquarters half of a small, cluttered rented room. The treasury was empty and the mem bership so small that he Golden Jubilee Found Editor Still at Helm In 1949, the year this picture was taken, statesmen and scien tists all over the world paid tribute to Gilbert Grosvenor's five decades as architect and master builder of the National Geographic Society. On his roll-top desk, presented to him by Mrs. Alexander Gra ham Bell early in his editorship, are photographs of his wife, Elsie May Bell Grosvenor, and his son, Melville Bell Grosvenor, now President and Editor. John E. Fletcher, National Geographic Photographer addressed the envelopes of the first issue he edited and then carried the entire mail edi tion on his back to the post office in one trip. But the organization had a mighty asset in the ideas shared by Dr. Bell and the youthful Gilbert Grosvenor: gaining members for a great society, not merely subscribers to a magazine; bringing geography into the homes of the people; transforming The Society's Magazine from one of cold scientific fact into a vehicle for carrying the living, breathing, human-interest truth about the world. With the rich background of one who has known personally the great explorers of the past 60 years, Dr. Grosvenor tells, too, of The Society's history-making expeditions. Dr. John Oliver La Gorce, President-Editor 1954-7, now Vice-Chairman, contributes an account of The Society's activities today. The National GeographicSociety and Its Magazine: A History, 196 pages, 177 illustrations, paper-bound in the familiar yellow National Geographic format, $1.50, postage prepaid. Available only from National Geographic Society, Dept. H, Washington 6, D. C .