National Geographic : 1966 Oct
his life was embittered and blighted by the thought of his tainted birth; he died in Genoa-he never had a home without a single kinsman beside his deathbed; his grave was dug in a city far from his native land, and now his bones must be turned out of his grave in order that the city may get stone for its harbor works." It ends: "The United States Government ought to assign a war ship to carry his body in state across the Atlantic.... We should place him where he may rest in peace-not for another seventy-five or one hundred years, but for as long as the great nation lives for which he showed such complete confidence and respect." Incidentally, Editor Grosvenor helped writer Grosvenor to accomplish the purpose for which he had pleaded so elo quently. While Smithson's illegitimacy caused the prudish to hesitate, the 27-year-old Editor enlisted the White House on his side. President Theodore Roosevelt agreed, and the body of the founder of our Smithsonian Institution came here "for as long as the great nation lives." This attitude was reflected in the magazine, and Dr. Grosvenor prided himself on the fact that "the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC never dressed tribal women prudishly in Western clothing; we pictured them in their natural state." The Chief, or GHG, as we called him (though nothing but Dr. Grosvenor to his face), was not the kind of editor who would ask his writers to conform to his preconceived ideas. "Just make it interesting," he would say to a staff man setting out on an assignment. Two or three generations of GEOGRAPHIC men and women owe to him our traditional freedom to report the world as we find it. Our only limita tion is summed up in his seven Guiding Principles, in brief: 1. Absolute accuracy. 2. Abundance of instructive and beautiful illustrations. 3. Everything must have permanent value. 4. Avoid trivialities and material of a purely personal nature. 5. Nothing partisan or controversial. 6. Only what is of a kindly nature; nothing unduly critical. 7. Plan each number for maximum timeliness. Fortunately some of these points-notably Nos. 5 and 6 had a certain built-in elasticity, and the Editor determined the amount of stretch. There was never any doubt about that, or about his editorial courage. To New Heights in the Depression When I joined the Society's staff, the year was 1933, and the great depression had cut the membership from more than a million and a quarter to fewer than 872,000. But steadily, as the Nation wallowed out of the trough, Gilbert Grosvenor added color pages and maps. He had faith in this country, his Society, his magazine, and the people who make up the membership. Staunchly backed by his loyal Vice President and Asso ciate Editor, Dr. John Oliver La Gorce, and a science minded Board of Trustees, Dr. Grosvenor gave continued support to exploration and research.* In fact, he literally soared to new heights by committing the Society to a lofty *See "75 Years Exploring Earth, Sea, and Sky," by Melvin M. Payne, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, January, 1963. 476 Trail riders to Machu Picchu, the Grosvenors in 1948 follow where Society expeditions had led more than thirty years ear lier. Shortly after their visit to the Peruvian ruins, discovered by Hiram Bingham of Yale University and uncovered with National Geographic So ciety support, a switchback road replaced the path to the mountaintop citadel.