Gilbert Melville Grosvenor

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Gilbert M. Grosvenor
Born Gilbert Melville Grosvenor
(1931-05-05) 5 May 1931 (age 86)
Washington, D.C.
Nationality American
Citizenship U.S.A.
Alma mater Yale College, Class of 1954
Occupation Chairman Emeritus, National Geographic Society
Parent(s) Melville Bell Grosvenor, Helen Rowland Grosvenor

Edwin S. Grosvenor, brother

Gilbert H. Grosvenor, grandfather
Awards Presidential Medal of Freedom (2005)

Gilbert Melville Grosvenor, born on May 5, 1931, became president and chairman of the National Geographic Society after having served as the editor of National Geographic Magazine.[1] In 2011, he retired after 23 years as Chairman of the Society.[2]

Grosvenor has received 14 honorary doctorates and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005 for his leadership in geography education. "As the world grows smaller and more interdependent daily, our country's future absolutely depends on our ability to see the connections between ourselves and our global neighbors," Grosvenor told an interviewer recently.[3]


Born in Washington, D.C., Grosvenor is the son of Melville Bell Grosvenor and the great-grandson of Alexander Graham Bell. He received a B.A. in psychology from Yale University in 1954. Between his junior and senior years, he volunteered in the Netherlands in efforts to recover from the North Sea flood of 1953 and co-authored an article that was published in the National Geographic. "Although I'm not sure I realized it at the time, it changed my life," Grosvenor recently recalled. "I discovered the power of journalism. And that's what we are all about—recording those chronicles of planet Earth."[4] He subsequently joined the staff of the magazine as a picture editor.

In 1970, Grosvenor assumed the position of editor of National Geographic Magazine.[1] He served as editor until 1980, when he became president of the National Geographic Society. Since his retirement in 1996, he has served as chairman of the board of trustees of the Society as well as an honorary director of The Explorers Club.

In 1996, Grosvenor was awarded a Gold Medal by the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and the Scottish Geographical Medal by the Royal Scottish Geographical Society.[1][5]

Grosvenor was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States, by President George W. Bush on June 23, 2004.



  1. ^ a b c Lanken, Dane. "The bee in Grosvenor's bonnet", Canadian Geographic, Vol. 116.6, November–December 1996: pp. 95-96.
  2. ^ Heath, Thomas (October 27, 2010). "Gilbert Grosvenor steps down as National Geographic Society chairman after 23 years". Washington Post. 
  3. ^ "Interview of Gilbert M. Grosvenor". The Gilbert M. Grosvenor Center for Geographic Education. 
  4. ^ "Why National Geographic Is a Family Affair". February 15, 2015. 
  5. ^ Royal Scottish Geographical Society Awards and Medals Archived February 12, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ "The Water Crisis". Huffington Post. 


External links[edit]

Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by
President of the National Geographic Society
March 1980 – 1996
Succeeded by