A reading list exploring aspects of the Society's past
The Society has a long and complicated history. Founded in 1830, our status as a leading UK institution emerged from the structures of imperialism and colonialism. In recent decades, historical geographers and others have worked to tell complex, critically-engaged histories of geography and of the Society. Below we share a developing list of key reading on these topics.
The following list of literature realting to the history of the Society is dynamic. If you know of other resources or publications you think we should be sharing, we’d be happy to hear from you at email@example.com
The Society does not accept responsibility for the content of the external sites. Inclusion on this list does not equate to an endorsement of any content or organisation. Please contact the external site for questions regarding individual resources.
Heffernan, M. (2011) Learned Societies, in Agnew, J.A. and Livingstone, D.N. (eds). The SAGE handbook of Geographical Knowledge. London: Sage Publications pp.111-125.
Livingstone, D. N. (1992) The geographical tradition: episodes in the history of a contested enterprise. Oxford: Blackwell.
Stoddart, D.R. (1986) On Geography and its History. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
Stoddart, D.R. (1980) 'The RGS and the "New Geography": Changing Aims and Changing Roles in Nineteenth Century Science', The Geographical Journal,146(2) pp.190-202.
Blunt, A. (1994) Travel, gender and imperialism. New York: The Guilford Press.
Maddrell, A. (2009) Complex locations: women’s geographical work in the UK 1850-1970 (RGS-IBG Book Series). Oxford: Blackwell.
Evans, S.L. (2016) ‘Mapping terra incognita: women’s participation in Royal Geographical Society-supported expeditions 1913-1939’, Historical Geography, 44, pp.30-44.
Keighren, I.M. (2017) ‘“A Royal Geographical Society for Ladies”: The Lyceum Club and Women’s Geographical Frontiers in Edwardian London’, The Professional Geographer, 69(4), pp.661-669.
Bell, M. and McEwan, C. (1996) 'The admission of women fellows to the Royal Geographical Society, 1892-1914: the controversy and the outcome', The Geographical Journal, 162, pp.295-312.
Evans S. L., Keighren I. and Maddrell A. (2013) 'Coming of age? Reflections on the centenary of women’s admission to the Royal Geographical Society.' The Geographical Journal, 179(4), pp.373-376.
Maddrell, A. (2007) 'Teaching a Contextual and Feminist History of Geography through Role Play: Women's Membership of the Royal Geographical Society (1892-1893)', Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 31, pp.393-412.
Barnett, C. (1998) Impure and worldly geography: the Africanist discourse of the Royal Geographical Society, 1831-73, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 23(2), pp.239-251.
Bell, M., Butlin, R., and Heffernan, M. (1995) Geography and Imperialism 1820-1940. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Burnett, D. Graham. Masters of All They Surveyed: Exploration, Geography, and a British El Dorado. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.
Collier, P. and Inkpen, R. (2002) The RGS, exploration and Empire and the contested nature of surveying. Area. 34(3), pp. 273-283.
Cox, N. (2020) “Easy Chair Geography”: The Fabrication of an Immobile Culture of Nineteenth-Century Exploration, in Lambert, D. and Merriman, P. (eds.) Empire and Mobility in the Long Nineteenth Century. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Driver, F. (1991) Henry Morton Stanley and His Critics: Geography, Exploration and Empire, Past & Present, 133, pp.134-166.
Driver, F. (1992) Geography’s empire: histories of geographical knowledge, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 10, pp.23-40.
Driver, F. (2001) Geography militant. Cultures of exploration and empire. Oxford: Blackwell.
Kearns, G. (1997) The Imperial Subject: Geography and Travel in the Work of Mary Kingsley and Halford Mackinder, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 22(4), pp.450-472.
Hudson, B. (1985) The New Geography and the New Imperialism: 1870–1918, Antipode, 17(2-3) pp.35-41.
Jones, M. (2005) Measuring the World: Exploration, Empire and the Reform of the Royal Geographical Society c. 1874-93, in Daunton, M.J. (ed.), The Organisation of Knowledge in Victorian Britain (British Academy centenary monographs). Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.313-337.
Burnett, D.G. (2002) It is impossible to make a step without the Indians’: nineteenth-century geographical exploration and the Amerindians of British Guiana, Ethnohistory, 49(1), pp.3-40.
Driver, F. and Jones, L. (2009) Hidden Histories of Exploration. London: RGS-IBG.
Driver, F. (2015) Intermediaries and the Archive of Exploration, in Konishi, S., Nugent, M. and Shellam, T. (eds.) Indigenous Intermediaries: New Perspectives on Exploration Archives. Acton, ACT: Australian National University Press, pp.11-30.
Heffernan, M. (1996) Geography, Cartography and Military Intelligence: The Royal Geographical Society and the First World War, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 21(3), p.504.
Heffernan, M. (2000) Mars and Minerva: Centres of Geographical Calculation in an Age of Total War, Erdkunde, 54(4) (2000): 320–33.
Rae, E. Souch, C. and Withers, C. W. (2015). Instruments in the Hands of Others: The Life and Liveliness of Instruments of British Geographical Exploration, c.1860–c.1930. In F. MacDonald, and C.W. Withers (eds). Geography, Technology and Instruments of Exploration. London: Routledge
Wess J.A. and Withers C.W.J (2018). Instrument provision and geographical science: the work of the Royal Geographical Society, 1830–ca 1930 in Notes and Records of The Royal Society vol 73 no 2
Hayes, E. (2018) Geographical light: the magic lantern, the reform of the Royal Geographical Society and the professionalization of geography c.1885-1894, Journal of Historical Geography, 62, pp.24-36.
Hayes, E. (2019) Slidescapes: three Royal Geographical Society lantern lectures by Vaughan Cornish, Early Popular Visual Culture, 17(1), pp.71-88.
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