On January 27, 1888, the National Geographic Society is founded in Washington, D.C., for "the increase and diffusion of geographical knowledge."
The 33 men who originally met and formed the National Geographic Society were a diverse group of geographers, explorers, teachers, lawyers, cartographers, military officers and financiers. All shared an interest in scientific and geographical knowledge, as well as an opinion that in a time of discovery, invention, change and mass communication, Americans were becoming more curious about the world around them. With this in mind, the men drafted a constitution and elected as the Society's president a lawyer and philanthropist named Gardiner Greene Hubbard. Neither a scientist nor a geographer, Hubbard represented the Society's desire to reach out to the layman.
Nine months after its inception, the Society published its first issue of National Geographic magazine. Readership did not grow, however, until Gilbert H. Grosvenor took over as editor in 1899. In only a few years, Grosvenor boosted circulation from 1,000 to 2 million by discarding the magazine's format of short, overly technical articles for articles of general interest accompanied by photographs. National Geographic quickly became known for its stunning and pioneering photography, being the first to print natural-color photos of sky, sea and the North and South Poles.
The Society used its revenues from the magazine to sponsor expeditions and research projects that furthered humanity's understanding of natural phenomena. In this role, the National Geographic Society has been instrumental in making possible some of the great achievements in exploration and science. To date, it has given out more than 1,400 grants, funding that helped Robert Peary journey to the North Pole, Richard Byrd fly over the South Pole, Jacques Cousteau delve into the sea and Jane Goodall observe wild chimpanzees, among many other projects.
Today, the National Geographic Society is one of the world's largest non-profit scientific and educational institutions. National Geographic continues to sell as a glossy monthly, with a circulation of around 9 million. The Society also sees itself as a guardian of the planet's natural resources, and in this capacity, focuses on ways to broaden its reach and educate its readers about the unique relationship that humans have with the earth.
Also on this day, in 2010 "The Catcher in the Rye" author J.D. Salinger died. The author of this classic American novel about a disillusioned teenager, died of natural causes at age 91 at his home in Cornish, New Hampshire. Prior to his death, the best-selling writer spent some 50 years shunning the spotlight and living reclusively on a 90-acre hillside compound.
Jerome David Salinger was born on January 1, 1919, in New York City, the second of two children. As a teen, he flunked out of a Manhattan private school and was sent to Valley Forge Military Academy in Pennsylvania. The school would later serve as a model for Pencey Prep, which Salinger’s famous character Holden Caulfield is expelled from in “The Catcher in the Rye.” After graduation from Valley Forge in 1936, Salinger did brief stints at several colleges, and traveled to Europe with his father, a successful food importer, before opting out of the family business.
In 1939, Salinger enrolled in a writing course at Columbia University, and soon began publishing his short stories in magazines. In 1941, after previous rejections, he sold his first story to The New Yorker, a leading literary publication of the time. The story, “Slight Rebellion off Madison” marked the first appearance of Holden Caulfield; however, the magazine put off publishing the story until 1946. After being drafted into the U.S. Army in 1942 during World War II, Salinger saw bloody combat duty in Europe. Back in New York after the war, he continued writing, and by the late 1940s was a regular contributor to The New Yorker.
In 1951, “The Catcher in the Rye” was published and became a best-seller. As The New York Times described the book in Salinger’s obituary: “With its cynical, slangy vernacular voice (Holden’s two favorite expressions are “phony” and “goddam”), its sympathetic understanding of adolescence and its fierce if alienated sense of morality and distrust of the adult world, the novel struck a nerve in cold war America and quickly attained cult status, especially among the young. Reading ‘Catcher’ used to be an essential rite of passage, almost as important as getting your learner’s permit.” Over the years, “The Catcher in the Rye” has sold millions of copies; annual paperback sales continue to top over 250,000 copies.
Having achieved literary success and fame, Salinger soon soured on it. He ordered his publisher to remove his photograph from his book’s back jacket, and in 1953, he moved from Manhattan to New Hampshire, where he built a tall fence around his property and rarely gave interviews to the media.
“The Catcher in the Rye” was the only novel ever published by Salinger, who married three times and had two children. His other works include the 1953 collection “Nine Stories,” along with 1961’s “Franny and Zooey” and 1963’s “Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction.” The latter two were compilations of previously published stories about the fictional Glass family. Salinger’s last work to appear in print was a story for The New Yorker titled “Hapworth 16, 1924,” which filled most of the magazine’s June 19, 1965, issue.
|On This Day in History: January 27th, 1888 - "National Geographic" is Founded! + Author J.D. Salinger Dies!|
|Posted: 01/27/2012 11:07 by herodotus||Comments: 4|