The American Geographical Society (AGS) was founded in New York City to promote the collection of geographical information and to establish and maintain a library with a collection of maps, charts, photographs, and instruments. In late 2011, the UWM Libraries received a grant from the Andrew Mellon Foundation through the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) to organize and process the archives of the AGS. The records date from the Society’s beginnings in 1851 and include approximately 350 cubic feet of material, with documents relating to well-known figures in American exploration and the larger field of geography from the mid–nineteenth century through most of the twentieth.

The images selected for this digital collection focus on explorers and expeditions, particularly to the Polar Regions. Highlights include log books, diaries, photographs, and artifacts of early Polar expeditions, such as the papers of Robert E. Peary (who served as President of the Society) and Isaac Israel Hayes, sketches of Inuit life by Robert Flaherty, records from the Transcontinental Excursion of 1912, and correspondence with such individuals as David Livingstone, Franklin D. Roosevelt (a councilor), Charles Lindbergh, and Louise A. Boyd to name only a few. The collection also contains correspondence, publications, reports, maps, meeting minutes, ledgers, and records on expeditions, explorers, and other geographic organizations and activities. The digital collection is under development as more items continue to be scanned and added to the collection.

A full finding aid to the collection can be found here: