For our second stop of the day, we popped into the Royal Geographical Society. I didn’t really know what to expect when Dr. Welsh told us we would be visiting their archives, but I really enjoyed the visit and saw some amazing artifacts!
In all honesty, I wasn’t really sure what the Royal Geographical Society was. But, the archivist/librarian did an excellent job describing the history and foundation of the RGS. It was founded in 1830, by a group of men who had previously formed a dinner club around the topic of travel. They decided to create a more formal society in order to collect geographical knowledge from around the world and disseminate that knowledge to those who were interested. The archive began as people returned from their expeditions and donated objects from around the globe.
The archive is mostly made up of cultural items, scientific instruments, and belongings of explorers. The archive is also focused on a few main areas: Africa, the Polar regions, and the Central Asia. The RGS has funded expeditions to climb Mount Everest and to discover the origins of the Nile! Currently, the archive and library hold over two million items, including: more than one million maps, half a million images, numerous globes, 250,000 volumes, correspondences, planning documents, and a special collection on individuals and instruments.
The best part of the visit was hearing the stories Eugene told about the explorers. We learned all about David Livingstone, Richard Burton, George Mallory, and more. We got to see Dr. Livingston’s hat and George Mallory’s boot plus many more interesting artifacts!
Mallory’s Boot, Maps, and a Geographical Instrument