The Explorers: A Century of Discovery

Director(s): Cara Biega
  2 wins.

In Washington, D.C.

the Trustees of

the National Geographic Society

gather to have a formal portrait taken.

The picture will help commemorate

the Society's Centennial.

In 1988 Geographic completes

one hundred years of exploration,

research, and education.

Everybody looking right at the lens.


All right. Okay. Fine. Right here.

Nice big smile now. Come on.

Here, in 1913,

a similar photograph was taken.

Back then, the highest mountain

had yet to be climbed,

and no one knew the ocean deep,

or what fire illuminates the stars.

All this lay in the future

the greatest adventure mankind

has ever known.

The explorers have left monuments

all over the world.

One of the most meaningful,

and at the same time little-known,

is to be found high on a hilltop

in Nova Scotia.

Here, alone with the sigh of the wind,

are the graves of Alexander Graham Bell

and his wife, Mabel.

Bell called their estate here

Beinn Bhreagh,

or "beautiful mountain"

In the late 1800s Bell spent much of

his time promoting

the National Geographic Society.

It was the favorite preoccupations

of a man

whose boundless creativity

changed everyone's life forever.

Inventing the telephone made

Bell's fortune.

It also freed him to pursue

his many interests

and enjoy his growing family.

Enthusiastic, generous, and warmhearted,

Bell became a grandfather figure

to the world.

When young Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor

caught the eye

of Bell's elder daughter, Elsie,

Bell offered him a job in Washington.

The couple was married in 1900.

They set up housekeeping not far

from Grosvenor's office

at 15th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue

It was an exciting time to be alive.

Americans were thrilled

by modern innovations

and their growing political power.

Grosvenor became the first full-time

employee of National Geographic,

Which was kept going mainly

/be Bell's contributions.

In a tiny office sometimes piled high

with unsold Magazines,

Grosvenor worked to realize Bell's hope

that Geographic's journal could

somehow pay the Society's way.

From its first issue the Magazine

had been a liability.

It had been called "suitable for

diffusing geographic knowledge among

those who already had it,

/and scaring off the rest".

It often featured day,

scholarly articles not meant

for the general public.

But there were also pictures

photographs of far-away people

and places that stirred the imagination.

When be became Managing Editor in 1900

Grosvenor started publishing

more photographs,

selected according to one of

his favorite maxims:

"The mind must see

before it can believe".

A famous Geographic tradition

began in 1896 with this picture.

Grosvenor stoutly defended the policy

of showing people dressed,

or undressed,

according to the customs in their land

At the turn of the century

the eye of the camera

was capable of wondrous revelations.

In 1906 an entire issue of

National Geographic was devoted

to portraits of animals taken

in the wild.

Photographer George Shiras sneaked up

on his subjects at night

with a camera and

explosive flash powder.

His pictures astonished the world.

With a later technique Shiras

startled animals

with a blank gun shot

and then captured them

an instant later in ghostly flight.

Geographic and its Magazine

soon prospered

and more innovations followed

Even before true color photography

was practical,

colored pictures were published

by hand tinting black-and-white prints

according to notes the photographer

had made in the field.

Purists found these pictures artificial

but readers loved them just the same.

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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