The Explorers Club

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File:Explorers Club Headquarters.jpg
New York City headquarters of The Explorers Club

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 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 spread across 26 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

Famous firsts

The Explorers Club is renowned for a series of "famous firsts" accomplished by its membership:[7]


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 its 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 and publications

In the 1920s, the club began to invite both explorers returning from the field and visiting scientists to relate 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, a six-story Jacobean revival mansion on East 70th Street, in New York City.[8] 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,[9] with articles and photography from Explorers Club Members in the field.

The Explorers Club flag

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 and grants

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:[13]

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.[16]

The club also awards a range of grants for field science and exploration, including The Youth Activity Fund Grant, The Exploration Fund Grant,[17] and the Scott Pearlman Field Awards for Science and Exploration,[18] and the Presidents Award for Exploration and Technology.


Presidents of the Explorers Club are elected by a vote of the Board of Directors after the Annual Meeting. Men and women may offer their name for consideration.

# From To President[19]
1 1905 1906 Adolphus Greely
2 1907 1908 Frederick Cook
3 1909 1911 Robert Peary
4 1912 1913 David Legge Brainard
5 1913 1916 Robert Peary
6 1917 1918 Carl Akeley
7 1919 1922 Vilhjalmur Stefansson
8 1922 1925 George Gustav Heye
9 1926 1927 James Ford
10 1928 1930 George Gustav Heye
11 1931 1934 Roy Chapman Andrews
12 1935 1937 Walter W. Granger
13 1937 1939 Vilhjalmur Stefansson
14 1940 1943 Herbert Spinden
15 1944 1946 Alexander Wetmore
16 1947 1948 Clyde Fisher
17 1949 1950 James Chapin
18 1951 1952 John Tee-Van
19 1953 1954 Edward Weyer, Jr.
20 1955 1958 Serge Korff
21 1959 1961 Charles Hitchcock
22 1961 1963 John Pallister
23 1963 1965 Serge Korff
24 1965 1967 Edward Sweeney
25 1967 1971 Walter Wood
26 1971 1973 Hobart Van Dressen
27 1973 1975 Russell Gurnee
28 1975 1976 E. Lovell Becker
29 1976 1978 Virgil Kauffman
30 1978 1981 Charles Brush
31 1981 1985 George V.B. Cochran
32 1985 1987 John Levinson
33 1987 1989 John Bruno
34 1989 1991 Nicholas Sullivan
35 1991 1993 David Swanson
36 1993 1996 John Loret
37 1996 2000 Alfred McLaren
38 2000 2002 Faanya Rose
39 2002 2006 Richard Wiese
40 2006 2009 Daniel Bennett
41 2009 2012 Lorie Karnath[20]
42 2012 2015 Alan Nichols
43 2015 Ted Janulis [21]


  1. Richardson, Lynda (2004-12-03). "PUBLIC LIVES; Explorers Club: Less 'Egad' and More 'Wow!'". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-02-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Eating Maggots: The Explorers Club Dinner". Retrieved 1 April 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "A Gathering Place". The Explorers Club. Retrieved 2011-02-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "The Explorers Club Honorary Members". The Explorers Club. Retrieved 2013-09-26.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "The Explorers Club Chapters". The Explorers Club. Retrieved 2013-09-26.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Finding aid to the Arctic Club of America" (PDF). The Explorers Club. Retrieved 2015-07-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Famous Firsts". The Explorers Club.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Explorers Club Events Page". The Explorers Club.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "The Explorers Journal: The Official Quarterly of The Explorers Club since 1921". Retrieved 2014-03-28.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "James Cameron Reflects on Exploration". Retrieved 2013-03-20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Solar Impulse Visits The Explorers Club". The Explorers Club. Retrieved 2014-01-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "F1 Engine Recovery Updates: Congratulations Team!". Retrieved 2014-03-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "The Explorers Club Medal". The Explorers Club.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Astronauts Celebrate Adventure at Explorers Club Dinner". Retrieved 20 March 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Medal Honors Scripps Icon Walter Munk's Lifetime of Science and Exploration". UC San Diego.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "The Explorers Club Honors". The Explorers Club.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "The Explorers Club Grants". The Explorers Club.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "The Scott Pearlman Field Award". The Explorers Club.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "About the Club - History - Club presidents, 1905 to present". The Explorers Club. Archived from the original on 28 September 2006.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Ross, Michael Elsohn (1 March 2014). A World of Her Own: 24 Amazing Women Explorers and Adventurers. Chicago Review Press. p. 10. ISBN 978-1-61374-441-3. Retrieved 13 February 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "The Explorers Club Elects Ted Janulis as 43rd Club President"

In Popular Culture

The Explorers Club idea was used as the basis for The Count of Nine, a Cool and Lam detective story by Erle Stanley Gardner, who set it in a similar, fictional club in Los Angeles. The resulting rather jaundiced view was due to the needs of crime fiction, rather than an accurate description of the real institution in New York.

External links