Société de Géographie

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Société de Géographie

The Société de Géographie (French: [sɔsjete də ʒeɔgʁafi]; lit.'"Geography Society"'), is the world's oldest geographical society. It was founded in 1821 as the first Geographic Society.[1] Since 1878, its headquarters have been at 184 Boulevard Saint-Germain, Paris. The entrance is marked by two gigantic caryatids representing Land and Sea. It was here, in 1879, that the construction of the Panama Canal was decided.


The Geographical Society was founded at a meeting on 15 December 1821 in the Paris Hôtel de Ville. Among its 217 founders were some of the greatest scientific names of the time, including Pierre-Simon Laplace (the Society's first president), Georges Cuvier, Charles Pierre Chapsal, Vivant Denon, Joseph Fourier, Gay-Lussac, Claude Louis Berthollet, Alexander von Humboldt, Champollion, and François-René de Chateaubriand. Most of the men who had accompanied Bonaparte in his Egyptian expedition were members: Edme-François Jomard, Conrad Malte-Brun, Jules Dumont d'Urville, Jules Paul Benjamin Delessert, Hottinguer, Henri Didot, Bottin and others such as Jean-Baptiste Benoît Eyriès.

Although the Society rarely funded scientific travel, by issuing instructions to voyagers, encouraging research through competitions, and publishing the results of their work, it served in its early years as "an important institutional support" for the study of Mesoamerica. Two members in the "active core" of the society played central roles in this regard: Jomard and the Irish exile David Ballie Warden.[2] Their terms for a competition for the best new work on "American antiquities", including maps "constructed according to exact methods" and "observations on the mores and customs of the indigenous peoples, and vocabularies of the ancient languages."[3] extended decades-old scientific practices to a new field of anthropological inquiry.[2]

The society was to be associated in time with the greatest French and foreign explorers from René Caillié, the first European to return alive from the town of Timbuktu, to the underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau, and leading geographers, among them Vidal de la Blache, founder of the French School of Geopolitics.[4]

The Society was the location of the Arab Congress of 1913, which took place from June 18 to June 23 of that year and marked the confluence of events surrounding the decline of the Ottoman Empire, the beginnings of Arab nationalism, and early Arab reaction to Zionist immigration to Palestine.


The Society's revue has appeared monthly since 1822, as Bulletin de la Société de Géographie (1822–1899) – offering in octavo format early news of all the discoveries of the nineteenth century – or quarterly, as La Géographie, with a break from 1940 until 1946. Since 1947 the Society's magazine has appeared three times a year, as Acta Geographica.

The Society's library, map collection and photograph collection are among the world's deepest and most comprehensive.

List of presidents[edit]

1822 Marquis Pierre-Simon de Laplace (1749–1827)
1823 Marquis Claude-Emmanuel de Pastoret (1755–1840)
1824 Vicount François-René de Chateaubriand (1768–1848)
1825 Gilbert Joseph Gaspard de Chabrol de Volvic (1773–1843)
1826 Louis Becquey (1760–1849)
1827 Count Christophe Chabrol de Crouzol (1771–1836)
1828 Baron Georges Cuvier (1769–1832)
1829 Jean-Guillaume Hyde de Neuville (1776–1857)
1830 Duke Ambroise-Polycarpe de La Rochefoucauld (1765–1817)
1831 Antoine Maurice Apollinaire d'Argout (1782–1858)
1832 Admiral Count Henri de Rigny (1782–1835)
1833 Duke Élie Decazes (1788–1860)
1834 Count Camille de Montalivet (1801–1880)
1835 Baron Prosper de Barante (1782–1866)
1836 Lieutenant-General Baron Jean-Jacques Germain Pelet-Clozeau (1777–1858)
1837 François Guizot (1787–1874)
1838 Count Narcisse-Achille de Salvandy (1795–1856)
1839 Baron Jean Tupinier (1779–1850)
1840 Count Hippolyte Jaubert (1798–1874)
1841 Abel-François Villemain (1790–1867)
1842 Laurent Cunin-Gridaine (1778–1859)
1843 Admiral Baron Albin Roussin (1781–1854)
1844 Vice-admiral Baron Ange-René-Armand de Mackau (1788–1855)
1845 Baron Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859)
1846 Baron Charles Athanase Walckenaer (1771–1852)
1847 Count Louis-Mathieu Molé (1781–1855)
1848 Edmé François Jomard (1777–1862)
1849 Jean-Baptiste Dumas (1800–1884)
1851 Rear-Admiral Pierre-L.-A. Mathieu
1853 Vice-Admiral (1853) C. Laplace (1793–1875)
1854 Hippolyte Fortoul (1811–1856)
1855 Noël Jacques Lefebvre-Duruflé (1792–1877)
1856 Joseph-Daniel Guigniaut (1794–1876)
1857 Pierre Daussy (1792–1860)
1858 General Eugène Daumas (1803–1871)
1859 Jean-Baptiste Élie de Beaumont (1798–1874)
1860 Gustave Rouland (1806–1878)
1861 Admiral Joseph Romain-Desfossés (1798–1864)
1862 Count Victor de Persigny (1808–1872)
1863 Count Alexandre Florian Joseph Colonna Walewski (1810–1868)
1864 Marquis Prosper de Chasseloup-Laubat (1805–1873)
1873 Vice-Admiral Camille Clément de La Roncière-Le Noury (1813–1881)
1881 Ferdinand de Lesseps (1805–1894)
1890 Jean Louis Armand de Quatrefages de Bréau (1810–1892)
1892 Antoine d'Abbadie d'Arrast (1810–1897)
1893 Gabriel Auguste Daubrée (1814–1896)
1894 Auguste Himly (1823–1906)
1895 Jules Janssen (1824–1907)
1896 Anatole Bouquet de La Grye (1827–1909)
1897 Alphonse Milne-Edwards (1835–1900)
1901 Alfred Grandidier (1836–1921)
1906 Charles Marie Le Myre de Vilers (1833–1918)
1909 Ernest Hamy (1842–1908)
1910 Prince Roland Bonaparte (1858–1924)
1925 Henri Cordier (1849–1925)
1926 Ernest Roume (1858–1941)
1928 Édouard-Alfred Martel (1859–1938)
1931 Marshal Louis Félix Marie François Franchet d’Esperey (1856–1942)
1939 General Georges Perrier (1872–1946)
1947 Emmanuel de Martonne (1873–1955)
1953 Robert Perret (1881–1965)
1960 Engineer-General Louis Hurault (fr) (1886–1973)
1965 Jean Despois (fr) (1901–1978)
1975 Aimé Perpillou (1902–1976)
1976 Roger Blais (1926–2009)
1983 Jacqueline Beaujeu-Garnier (1917–1995)
1995 Jean Bastié (fr) (1919–2018)
2009 Jean-Robert Pitte (fr) (1949–)


Grande Médaille d'Or des Explorations[edit]

The Grande Médaille d'Or des Explorations et Voyages de Découverte (Great Gold Medal of Exploration and Journeys of Discovery) has been awarded since 1829 for journeys whose outcomes have enhanced geographical knowledge. Notable recipients have been John Franklin (1829), John Ross (1834), David Livingstone (1857), Ernest Shackleton (1910) and Roald Amundsen (1913).[5]


  1. ^ Other geographic societies were soon founded: Berlin (1828), London (1830), Frankfort (1836), St. Petersburg (1845), New York (1852), Vienna (1856), Geneva (1858), Mexico City (1859).
  2. ^ a b Edison, Paul N. (2004). "Colonial Prospecting in Independent Mexico: Abbé Baradère's Antiquités mexicaines (1834-36)". Proceedings of the Western Society for French History. 32. hdl:2027/spo.0642292.0032.012. ISSN 2573-5012.
  3. ^ Bulletin de la Société de géographie 5 (1826): 595-96.
  4. ^ "Qui sommes-nous ?". Société de Géographie (in French). 2016-10-30. Retrieved 2021-08-02.
  5. ^ "Grande Médaille D'or Des Explorations et Voyages De Découverte (in French)". Société de géographie. Archived from the original on 6 December 2014. Retrieved 1 December 2014.


External links[edit]