Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Bell the Geographer

MassMoments is a daily message about historic anniversaries in Massachusetts history. Today it reminds readers that it was on March 7, 1876 that Alexander Graham Bell received his first patent for the telephone. He had done much of his work in Boston, and many of the early transmissions were between Boston and New York. The article is somewhat vague on which events happened in Boston and which elsewhere, but there were several direct connections to the city.

The article does not mention -- and few people know -- that Alexander Graham Bell became the first president of a small scientific society that had little more than a newsletter when he became involved. He and his son-in-law Gilbert Grosvenor built the National Geographic Society into the now-familiar worldwide organization, and every president since the founding has been a descendant, all named Gilbert Grosvenor.

According to a 2010 news release from ESRI, the Society's most prestigious award is the Alexander Graham Bell Medal. In 2010, two medals were awarded to pioneers in the development of GIS.

A few years ago, on a behind-the-scenes tour of the National Geographic Headquarters, I visited Bell's original office, where I was somewhat disappointed to see a cheap 1980s telephone on the desk!

No comments:

Post a Comment