Medals and Awards

Since the founding of AGS in 1851, the Society has awarded various honors, awards, and prizes to many historic figures in geography and exploration.  One of the most prestigious honors is to be invited to sign the Fliers and Explorers Globe.  As of today, 79 fliers and explorers have signed the Globe.  AGS also makes provision for 9 distinguished medal awards as well as Honorary Fellowships which are made on a regular basis.  The Medals (in order of their establishment) include:  the Cullum Geographical Medal, the Charles P. Daly Medal, the Samuel Finley Breese Morse Medal, the David Livingstone Centenary Medal, the George Davidson Medal, the O. M. Miller Cartographic Medal, the Van Cleef Memorial Medal, the Paul P. Vouras Medal, and the Alexander and Ilse Melamid Medal.AGS also recognizes excellence through the awarding of special prizes.  Currently, the Society awards the Wrigley-Fairchild Prize.

The Awards and Honors Committee of the Board of Councilors is responsible for submitting nominees of all awards and honors to the full Board of Councilors.  The Board of Councilors is then responsible for the final selection of all awards and honors recipients.



The Cullum Geographical Medal


The Cullum Geographical Medal,was established in 1896 and was the first medal to be awarded by AGS. It was founded by a bequest from Major General George W. Cullum of the United States Army who was also a Vice President of AGS from 1874 until his death in 1892. According to the terms of General Cullum’s will, the medal was to be awarded “…to those who distinguish themselves by geographical discoveries, or in the advancement of geographical science.” The medal was designed by Lydia K. Emmet.



Charles P. Daly Medal


The Charles P. Daly Medal was established in 1902 by the will of Judge Charles P. Daly, President of AGS from 1864 to 1899. He stipulated that it be awarded by the Society “…for valuable or distinguished geographical services or labors.” The first design for this medal was the work of Victor D. Brenner, but in 1924 the dies were destroyed and the current design was executed by Brenda Putnam.



Samuel Finley Breese Morse Medal

Samvel Finley Breese Morse Medal

The Samuel Finley Breese Morse Medal was established in 1902 with funds bequeathed to the Society by Professor Morse, inventor of the recording telegraph, upon his death in 1872, “…for the encouragement of geographical research.” The medal was designed by Laura G. Fraser.



David Livingstone Centenary Medal


The David Livingstone Centenary Medal was founded at the initiative of the Hispanic Society of America in March 1913, on the one-hundredth anniversary of the birth of the great African traveler, Dr. David Livingstone.  The medal is awarded by AGS “…for scientific achievement in the field of Geography of the Southern Hemisphere.”  Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor of Mt. Rushmore, was the designer of the medal.



George Davidson Medal

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The George Davidson Medal derives from a bequest in 1946 from the estate of Ellinor Campbell Davidson for the establishment of a medal and research fund in memory of her father, George Davidson, the California scientist and geographer. AGS awards the medal for “…exceptional achievement in research for exploration in the Pacific Ocean or the lands bordering thereon.” The medal was designed by Paul Manship.



O.M. Miller Cartographic Medal


The O. M. Miller Cartographic Medal was founded by the AGS Council in 1968 for outstanding contributions in the field of cartography or geodesy.  It was named for Mr. Miller who had recently retired from the AGS staff after 46 years.  Mr. Miller was responsible for initiating a School of Surveying at the Society.  His work brought to geographical science new map projections, original survey methods and instrumentation, pioneer developments in aerial photography and photogrammetry and new cartographic techniques.


Van Cleef Memorial Medal

 Van CleefVan Cleef back

The Van Cleef Memorial Medal was established in 1970 through a gift from Dr. Eugene Van Cleef, Professor Emeritus of Geography at the Ohio State University, who contributed a medal fund in memory of his wife, Frieda.  Dr. Van Cleef gave the first course in urban geography in an American University in 1923 and published the first book by an American geographer in urban themes in 1937.  The award is conferred on scholars who have done outstanding original work in the field of urban geography, preferably, though not necessarily in applied rather than theoretical aspects.  The medal was designed by Joseph DiLorenzo.



Paul P. Vouras Medal

AGS Paul P Vouras Medal

The Paul V. Vouras Medal was established in 1988 through a gift from Dr. Vouras, Emeritus Professor of Geography at William Patterson College in New Jersey.  It is awarded for outstanding work in regional geography.  The medal was designed by Hilary Lambert Hopper.



Alexander and Ilse Melamid Medal

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The Alexander and Ilse Melamid Medal was established in 2002 through and endowed gift from Ilse Melamid. It is awarded for outstanding work on the dynamic relationship between human culture and natural resources. The medal was designed by Ilse Melamid.



Wrigley-Fairchild Prize

The Wrigley-Fairchild Prize was established in 1994 as a way to promote scholarly writing among new scholars.  The prize is given every three years to the author of the best article by an early-career scholar published in the most recent three volumes of the Geographic Review.


Best Paper Award

The Geographical Review is proud to announce the creation of an annual Best Paper Award. There is no need to enter. All articles published within a volume year – including articles in special features – will be eligible for the award. The winner will be selected by the members of theGeographical Review editorial board and the winner will be notified by January of the following year. The prize will be given at the Association of American Geographers Annual Conference. If you have any questions, please contact Dr. David Kaplan