AGS Timeline

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1851

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In September a committee formed to draft a Constitution. On October 9th, 1851, a meeting held in John Dursturnell’s Geographical and Statistical Library at 179 Broadway in New York City adopted the Constitution. At the founding of the Society, women…

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1852

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George Bancroft is the first president elected by the Society and serves until December 1854.

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1857

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Volume 2 of the Bulletin of the American Geographical and Statistical Society is published.

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1863

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Asa Whitney read the first paper presented before the Society in 1851. Mr. Whitney’s topic proposed a railroad to the Pacific, a project that he had been ardently advocating.

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1864

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In May, 1864, Judge Charles P. Daly is elected President and served until September, 1899. Judge Daly was described as “more than an interested amateur of geography [unlike most AGS Councilors].” He was an “able and productive geographer in his…

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1871

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On April 8th 1871, the Society amended its Charter and drops the “and Statistical” from its title, thus becoming the “American Geographical Society.”

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1882

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In 1882, the AGS established a Committee on Lectures. This committee system developed to meet needs as they arose, rather than planning in advance.

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1886

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In an Annual Report for 1886, it was announced by Mr. William Remsen (aninfluential AGS Councilor) that “a reasonable certainty exists that, when the library and the maps shall have outgrown their present accommodations, an ample fire-proofbuilding will be in…

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1891

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Robert E. Peary lectures to the Society about his Polar travels.

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1896

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The Cullum Geographical Medal was designed by Lydia K. Emmet and was established in 1896. George W. Cullum willed to the Society the establishment of a medal given “to those who distinguish themselves by geographical discoveries or in the advancement…

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1902

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The Samuel Finely Breese Morse Medal was established in 1902. Designed by Laura G. Fraser, this medal recognizes achievements and pioneering in “geographical research.” Samuel Finley Breese Morse was a painter, but also noted inventor. After extensive travel in Europe,…

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1903

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Robert E. Peary became President of the AGS and served until January 1907.

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1907

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Archer M. Huntington elected President and served until April 1911. Huntington had been a Fellow of the AGS since 1893 and a Councilor since 1904. He was not only the Society’s outstanding financial benefactor but its most influential leader. By…

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1908

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The Cullum Geographical Medal was given to William Morris Davis. Professor Davis was recognized as a foremost authority in the field of physiography and as anardent advocate of new methods of teaching geography all along the line from primary school…

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1909

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Francisco P. Moreno and Sir Ernest Shackleton were honored with the Cullum Geographical Medal. Francisco P. Moreno (was a prominent explorer and academic in Argentina). He was known for his role in defending Argentine interests and his defining surveys leading…

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1910

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Herman Wagner received the Cullum Geographical Medal in 1910. Hermann Wagner was a German geographer and cartographer. In 1880, he became Professor of Geography at the University of Gottingen where he established the institute of geography.

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1911

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The Society moves to 3755 Broadway at 156th Street. The building was designed by Charles Pratt Huntington, while John Clark Udell served as the contractor. This three-story building was built on the land donated by Archer Milton Huntington’s mother. The…

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1912

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A Transcontinental Excursion is arranged and executed by the AGS in 1912. The idea for this excursion was generated by Professor W.M. Davis who, in 1908 “tried the unique experiment of conducting a geographical excursion in Europe, open to students…

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1913

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In March of 1913 The David Livingstone Centenary Medal was established by the Hispanic Society of America. The establishment commemorates the 100th anniversary of David Livingstone’s birth. Livingstone led the Zambezi Expedition from 1858 to 1864. He returned to Africa…

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1914

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The Cullum Geographical Medal was awarded to Sir John Scott Keltie and Ellen Churchill Semple. Sir John Scott was a Scottish geographer, best known for his work with the Royal Geographic Society. He joined the Royal Geographic Society in 1883,…

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1915

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Isaiah Bowman is appointed the Director of the Society. Dr. Bowman was already favorably known to the Society, with several articles by him appearing in the Bulletin of the American Geographical Society. He was known as Professor W.M. Davis’s “righthand man”…

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1917

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George W. Goethals received the Cullum Geographical Medal in 1917. Goethals was a United States Army officer and a civil engineer, best known for his supervision ofthe construction and the opening of the Panama Canal.

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1918

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Frederick Haynes Newell was awarded the Cullum Geographical Medal. Newellwas famed for the construction of twenty-six projects, including reservoirs, canals andrelated works which were completed in whole or part — notably the Roosevelt, Shoshone, Arrowrock, Gunnison Tunnel, irrigating canals and…

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1919

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Emmanel de Margerie and Henry Fairfield Osborn were each awarded the Cullum Geographical Medal. Margerie (1862–1953) was a French geographer after whom the Margerie Glacier was named, which he visited in 1913. Henry Fairfield Osborn an American geologist, paleontologist and…

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1921

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Albert I, Prince of Monaco was honored with the Cullum Geographical Medal. Albert showed his ingenuity by devising a number of techniques and instruments used formeasurement and exploration. Accompanied by some of the world’s leading marinescientists, he recorded numerous oceanographic…

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1922

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Edward A. Reeves received the Cullum Geographical Medal. Reeves was knownfor giving courses of instruction in survey methods at the Royal Geographical Society.Mr. Reeves work had impressed Dr. Alexander Hamilton Rice, who concluded that similar instruction should be offered at…

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1925

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In January, John H. Finley was elected as President of the AGS and served until January 1934. Finley has strong geographical interests and he loved to get close to landand people on walks of prodigious length. He was assistant editor…

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1926

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The Cullum Geographical Medal was presented to Professor Lucien Gallois in Paris. The medal was presented in this location as Professor Gallois was unable to come to New York to receive it, hence the Society often arranged to have the…

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1928

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Sir George Hubert Wilkins becomes the first recipient of the Samuel Finley Breese Morse Medal for using an airplane in “geographical research” – a means of transportation unknown in Morse’s day. The Samuel Finley Breese Morse Medal was established in…

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1929

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The American Geographical Society acquired the Fliers’ & Explorers’ Globe. The globe was a gift from the society’s President John H. Finley. At the time of the gift, John H. Finley was the assistant editor of the New York Times….

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1931

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The Cullum Geographical Medal was awarded to Mark Jefferson. Jefferson was amember of the Transcontinental Excursion and his career involved training geographyteachers. Isaiah Bowman (AGS Director) was taught by Jefferson in his early years, before he went to Harvard.

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1932

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Bertram Thomas was honored with the Cullum Geographical Medal. Thomas undertook anumber of expeditions into the desert, and became the first European to cross the Rub’ AlKhali from 1930 and 1931.

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1934

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Roland L. Redmond is elected President and served until February 1947. Redmond had been a member of the AGS Council for 11 years.

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1938

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Louise Arner Boyd was awarded the Cullum Geographical Medal. Boyd was an American explorer of Greenland and the Arctic, who wrote extensively of her explorations. The American Geographical Society sponsored a series of her scientificexpeditions to the east and north-east…

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1939

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The Cullum Geographical Medal was awarded to Emmanuel de Martonne. Emmanuel de Martonne was secretary of the Association de Geographes François, and produced a map portraying regions of interior damage.

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1940

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Robert Cushman Murphy was awarded the Cullum Geographical Medal. Murphy was an American ornithologist and former Lamont curator of birds for the American Museum of Natural History. He was the author of over 600 scientific articles throughou this scientific career.

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1945

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Archer M. Huntington was awarded the Samuel Finley Breese Morse Medal. Archer M. Huntington is a previous AGS President and Fellow and is deemed to be one of the Society’s most influential leaders.

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1946

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The George Davidson Medal honors the “exceptional achievement in research for exploration in the Pacific Ocean or the lands bordering therein.” George Davidson was ageographer and scientist noted for his work with the U.S. government exploring and charting the western…

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1948

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Hugh Hammond Bennett was awarded the Cullum Geographical Medal. Bennett was a pioneer in the field of soil conservation in the United States of America. He founded and headed the Soil Conservation Service, a federal agency now referred toas the…

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1950

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The Cullum Geographical Medal was given to Hans Wilson Ahlmann inrecognition of his studies of glaciers and climate fluctuations, as well as humangeography.

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1951

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In the spring of 1951, Dr. Seymour delivered at The John Hopkins University the first of the Isaiah Bowman Memorial Lectures, under a trust fund created by Mr. Huntington and administered by the American Geographical Society.

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1952

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The Cullum Geographical Medal was awarded to Roberto Almagia. Roberto Almagia was a geographer with a specialized interest in cartography and naturalism. In addition to writing numerous books, he collected and edited thefundamentals of MonumentaitaliaeCartographie, which are general and regional…

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1954

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The entire British Everest Expedition received the Cullum Geographical Medal.

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1956

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J. Russell Smith received the Cullum Geographical Medal. He began his teachingcareer as an instructor in the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce of the University of Pennsylvania, and he subsequently became professor and head of the Department of Geography…

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1958

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Charles Warren Thornthwaite received the Cullum Geographical Medal. Thornthwaitewas an American geographer and climatologist. He is best known for devising a climate classification system, published in 1948, that is still in use around the world, and also forhis detailed water…

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1960

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On January 28th, 1960 at the annual society dinner at the St. Regis Hotel in NewYork City, medals were awarded. Dr. Richard Hartshorne – who was part of a key geographical debate in the 1950s over the nature of geography…

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1961

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On April 26, 1961 the “Night of Exploration” dinner was held at the Explorer’s Club. Former President Herbert Hoover received the Explorer’s Medal “for his humanitarianachievements and for his exploration in Australia, Burma, and China as a miningengineer.”

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1963

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On October 7, 1963 the American Geographical Society awarded the Cullum Geographical medal to Rachel Carson, the author of “The Sea Around Us” and “SilentSpring.” Carson was an American marine biologist and nature writer whose writings arecredited with advancing the…

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1964

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John Leighly was awarded the Cullum Geographical Medal. Leighly regularly offered classes in climatology, meteorology, and cartography, as well as the history of geographic thought and, at times, the geography of Europe or of Scandinavia. He was best known for…

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1966

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The Samuel Finley Breese Morse Medal is awarded to Charles B. Hitchcock, who supervised the Society’s Hispanic-America program and was also an honorary Fellow ofthe AGS.

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1967

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Peter Haggett was awarded the Cullum Geographical Medal. Haggett is famed for hissignificant research contributions to the field of human geography, and is the author oreditor of over thirty books on geographical practice, theory, and individual research topics.In the latter…

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1968

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The O.M. Miller Cartographic Medal was established in 1968 by the AGS Council.Miller, whose forty-six year career with AGS was only one of the many accomplishmentsof his career. While on staff, Miller headed, researched, and taught at the Society’sSchool of…

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1969

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On July 20th Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin become the first andsecond people, respectively, to land on the Moon. This success was part of the Apollo 11mission, which was the first manned mission to land on the moon. Michael…

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1973

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Bruce Heezen was awarded the Cullum Geographical Medal. Heezen was anAmerican geologist. He is most famous as being the leader of a team from Columbia University which mapped the Mid-Atlantic Ridge during the 1950s.

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1975

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The Cullum Geographical Medal was given to Rene Dubos. René Dubos was aFrench-American microbiologist, experimental pathologist, environmentalist, humanist,and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction for his book; So Human An Animal. He is credited as an author of…

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1976

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Sarah Kerr Myers was appointed Director of the American Geographical Societyin 1976 until September 1982.

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1978

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In the summer of 1978, the AGS map, photograph, book, journal and atlas collections were transferred to new quarters in the library on the University of Wisconsin– Milwaukee, where its use has flourished and the collection continues to grow.

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1983

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Mary Lynne Bird was chosen as the Director of the American Geographical Society.

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1985

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Chauncy D. Harris received the Cullum Geographical Medal. Harris was a pioneer of modern geography. His seminal works in the field of American urban geography, along with his work on the Soviet Union during and after the Cold Warera established…

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1986

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The Geographical Review marked its seventieth anniversary during 1986.

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1987

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F. Kenneth Hare and Yi-Fu Tuan were each honored with the Cullum Geographical Medal. Hare was a Canadian climatologist and academic, who researched atmospheric carbon dioxide, climate change, drought, and arid zone climates and was astrong advocate for preserving the…

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1988

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Paul P. Vouras was an Emeritus Professor of Geography at William Patterson College in New Jersey. In 1988, he established the Paul P. Vouras Medal. Hilary LambertHopper designed this medal, which honors “outstanding work in regional geography.”

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1991

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Alexander Melamid received the Samuel Finley Breese Morse Medal. Melamid wrote an important publication entitled “Oil and the Economic Geography of the Middle East and North Africa,” which is unique in the genre in that it contains the major publications…

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1993

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The Wrigley-Fairchild Prize was established in 1993 with a gift from retired Geographical Review Editor, Douglas R McManis, in honor of two legendary predecessors, Gladys Wrigley (1916-1949) and Wilma Fairchild (1950-1972). The Wrigley-Fairchild Prize is awarded every three years to…

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1994

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Professor Paul F Starrs of the Department of Geography at the University of Nevada, Reno, is chosen as the new Geographical Review editor due to his excellent “vision andbroad ranging geographical interests.”

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1997

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The Society moved to 120 Wall Street. Melvin G. Marcus received the Cullum Geographical Medal and was described by AGS Councilors as having a “breadth of vision, commitment to education, and fascination with the world in which he lived.”

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1998

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At the 1998 Awards Ceremony and Banquet in Milwaukee, the Society’s most prestigious medals were presented. Award recipients include: Professor Arthur H. Robinson of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who literally “wrote the book” on modern cartography and geodesy; academician…

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1999

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Donald J. Lloyd-Jones received the Samuel Finley Breese Morse Medal for “extraordinary service to the Society and to the field of geography at large. ” Donald J.Lloyd-Jones was President of the American Geographical Society, and joined the AGS Council in…

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2000

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The AGS Prepares for its Sesquicentennial – 150 years of Geographical Inquiry.

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2001

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The Samuel Finley Breese Morse Medal was awarded to Douglas R. McManis. Dr. McManis edited the Geographical Review for nearly 20 years and fiercely upheldstandards that have made the Geographical Review a premier geographical publication. Wilbur Zelinsky received the Cullum…

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2002

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The Alexander and Ilse Melamid Medal was established by Isle Melamid in 2002. This medal honors “outstanding work on the dynamic relationship between human culture and natural resources.”

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2004

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Ronald F. Abler received the Samuel Finley Breese Morse Medal. The Samuel Finely Breese Morse Medal is awarded “for the encouragement of geographical research.” Abler was described as having “great impact on the contemporary landscape of American academic geography.” Jackie…

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2005

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On October 10,2005, Mary Upjohn Meader was made an Honorary Fellow of the American Geographical Society. Ms. Meader is termed not only a geographer, but also a pioneering aerial photographer, who, in 1937, photographed large portions of South America and…

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2006

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Jennifer Helzer wins the McColl Family Fellowship for 2007. Dr. Helzer used the fellowship to travel to Australia to work on a comparative study of Italian immigrants in California and Australia. She is interested in contrasting the role Italian immigrants…

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2010

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The Geographical Review publishes its 100th volume. Each issue contains essays commenting on the journal’s longstanding contributions to geographical knowledge and scholarship. The winners of the McColl Family Fellowship for 2010 are Chie Sakakibara and Kim Diver. This fellowship provides…

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2013

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Karl Zimmerer is awarded the Melamid Medal in recognition for his pioneering research on cultural ecology, particularly agrobiodiversity and conservation, in Latin America.

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