The Explorers Club

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The Explorers Club is an American-based international multidisciplinary professional society dedicated to the advancement of field research. The club was founded in New York City, and has served as a meeting point for explorers and scientists worldwide, all of whom are united in the ideal that it is vital to preserve the instinct to explore.

The Explorers Club provides expedition resources including funding, online information, and member-to-member consultation. Expeditions promote the scientific exploration of land, sea, air, and space by supporting research and education in the physical, natural and biological sciences. The Club also hosts an Annual Dinner to honor accomplishments in exploration, which is known for its adventurous, exotic cuisine.[1][2]

The Explorers Club actively encourages public interest in exploration and the sciences through its public lectures program, publications, travel program, and other events. The Club also maintains an extensive Research Archives—including a library and map collection—to preserve the history of the Club and to assist those interested and engaged in exploration and scientific research.


In 1904, a group of men active in exploration met at the request of Henry Collins Walsh, to form an organization to unite explorers in the bonds of good fellowship and to promote the work of exploration by every means in its power. Among these men were Adolphus Greely, Donaldson Smith, Henry Collins Walsh, Carl Lumholtz, Marshall Saville, Frederick Dellenbaugh, and David Brainard. After several further informal meetings, The Explorers Club was duly incorporated on October 25, 1905. Women were first admitted in 1981, with a class including Sylvia Earle and Kathryn Sullivan.[3] Famous honorary members have included Theodore Roosevelt, John Glenn, Jim Fowler, Walter Cronkite, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and Albert I, Prince of Monaco.[4]

The Explorers Club is now spread across twenty-six chapters in the United States and around the world.[5] Chapters serve as local contact points for explorers, scientists, and students. Many chapters hold monthly dinners, lectures, and seminars, award field-research grants to students, publish newsletters, and organize expeditions, field trips, and educational events.

Charter Members[edit]

Famous Firsts[edit]

The Explorers Club is renowned for a series of "famous firsts" accomplished by its membership:[6]


The Explorers Club held its first regular meeting at its original headquarters in the Studio Building at 23 West 67th Street. The Club finished construction on their next Headquarters at 544 Cathedral Parkway in 1928 and there the Club continued to grow its extensive collection of artifacts, trophies, and books on exploration. In 1965, the Club purchased its current Headquarters at 46 East 70th Street on the Upper East Side, where it houses the James B. Ford Exploration Library, the Sir Edmund Hillary Map Room and a collection of artifacts from more than a century of exploration. The building was previously the home of Stephen C. Clark.

Lectures & Publications[edit]

In the 1920s, the Club began to invite both explorers returning from the field and visiting scientists to tell of their experiences and findings. By the 1930s these informal gatherings developed into academic lectures and illustrated talks. The Club continues to provide weekly lectures and programs, which are often open to the public at its Headquarters in New York City.[7] In November 1921 The Explorers Club published the first edition of The Explorers Journal to share news from the field, remarks from headquarters, recent acquisitions, obituaries, and book reviews. The Explorers Journal is still published quarterly,[8] with articles and photography from Explorers Club Members in the field.

The Explorers Club Flag[edit]

The Explorers Club flag has been carried on hundreds of expeditions by Club Members since 1918. It has flown at both poles, from the highest peaks, traveled to the depths of the ocean, to the lunar surface, and outer space.

To obtain permission to carry the flag, a Club Member must show that an expedition holds the promise of scientific results. Once approved, the flag must be exhibited at every suitable opportunity on the expedition, and must be returned to the Club along with a written record of the expedition—the Flag Report. The Club’s Research Collections is the repository for these unique reports, including the original “Flag Book”—a bound journal of hand-written reports, vintage prints, clippings, and assorted records submitted by the explorers who first carried The Explorers Club flag on expeditions.

Today there are 202 numbered flags, each with their own history. These include flags carried on such expeditions as:

Honors & Grants[edit]

The Explorers Club Medal, the highest honor that can be bestowed by the Club, is awarded for extraordinary contributions directly in the field of exploration, scientific research, or to the welfare of humanity. Past recipients include:[12]

Beyond The Explorers Club Medal, the Club also presents The Lowell Thomas Award, The Sweeney Medal, a Citation of Merit, The Buzz Aldrin Space Exploration Award and The Tenzing Norgay Award, among others.[15]

The Club also awards a range of grants for field science and exploration, including The Youth Activity Fund Grant, The Exploration Fund Grant,[16] and the Scott Pearlman Field Awards for Science and Exploration.[17]


  1. ^ Richardson, Lynda (2004-12-03). "PUBLIC LIVES; Explorers Club: Less 'Egad' and More 'Wow!'". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-02-01. 
  2. ^ "Eating Maggots: The Explorers Club Dinner". Retrieved 1 April 2010. 
  3. ^ "A Gathering Place". The Explorers Club. Retrieved 2011-02-02. 
  4. ^ "The Explorers Club Honorary Members". The Explorers Club. Retrieved 2013-09-26. 
  5. ^ "The Explorers Club Chapters". The Explorers Club. Retrieved 2013-09-26. 
  6. ^ "Famous Firsts". The Explorers Club. 
  7. ^ "Explorers Club Events Page". The Explorers Club. 
  8. ^ "The Explorers Journal: The Official Quarterly of The Explorers Club since 1921". Retrieved 2014-03-28. 
  9. ^ "James Cameron Reflects on Exploration". Retrieved 2013-03-20. 
  10. ^ "Solar Impulse Visits The Explorers Club". The Explorers Club. Retrieved 2014-01-25. 
  11. ^ "F1 Engine Recovery Updates: Congratulations Team!". Retrieved 2014-03-16. 
  12. ^ "The Explorers Club Medal". The Explorers Club. 
  13. ^ "Astronauts Celebrate Adventure at Explorers Club Dinner". Retrieved 20 March 2013. 
  14. ^ "Medal Honors Scripps Icon Walter Munk’s Lifetime of Science and Exploration". UC San Diego. 
  15. ^ "The Explorers Club Honors". The Explorers Club. 
  16. ^ "The Explorers Club Grants". The Explorers Club. 
  17. ^ "The Scott Pearlman Field Award". The Explorers Club. 

External links[edit]