National Geographic Magazine Is 128 Years Old

A look back at Vol. I, No 1.

It took several decades for photos to appear alongside articles in National Geographic magazine. And the publication’s trademark yellow border framing the cover wouldn’t be displayed until even later, 1910.

So what filled the very first issue, published this month in 1888? Per a fun item by Kristin Romney, one of the half-dozen featured articles, about that year’s historic blizzard, encompassed a stupendous level of subject-matter expertise:

The Great Storm of 1888 is considered “the deadliest, snowiest, and most unusual winter storm in American annals,” dumping more than five feet of snow in parts of New York, and leaving more than 400 dead.

The three-page summary of remarks provided by Society founding member Adolphus Greely, however, characterize it as “no means as violent as others which have occurred in the eastern part of the United States,” and go on to provide a cut-and dry account of the progress of the storm across the country.

Brigadier General Greely, however, had already seen much, much worse. As leader of the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition of 1881, Greely survived a three-year struggle in the Arctic involving two failed resupply attempts, the loss of two-thirds of his crew and accusations of cannibalism.

Wow. The price for Vol. I, No. 1 was 50 cents. We were curious how that would translate into today’s terms, and according to one calculator, we’re talking $12.00. Read the rest of Romney’s summary look at the issue here.

Previously on FishbowlNY:
30 Years Later, ‘Afghan Girl’ National Geographic Cover Still Resonates

@hollywoodspin Richard Horgan is co-editor of Fishbowl.