Feb 16, 1845 CE: Happy Birthday, George Kennan

Feb 16, 1845 CE: Happy Birthday, George Kennan

On February 16, 1845, explorer, journalist and National Geographic Society founder George Kennan was born in Norwalk, Ohio.


9 - 12


Anthropology, Arts and Music, Geography, Human Geography, Physical Geography

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On February 16, 1845, George Kennan was born in Norwalk, Ohio. Before he turned 20, Kennan was on a ship to the remote Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia, on an expedition to establish the world’s first telegraph line from Europe and Asia to North America. That endeavor failed, as an undersea cable was laid beneath the Atlantic Ocean before Kennan’s longer cable could be laid. Kennan’s two years in isolated Kamchatka, however, began his career as a journalist and explorer. Kennan returned to Russia several times, documenting the stark beauty and surprising biodiversity of the Siberian wilderness. He also wrote about the culture and traditions of Siberia’s Arctic peoples, such as the Korak, Chukchi, and Yakut. The last time he visited Russia, Kennan reported on its harsh prison system—and was promptly banned from ever returning to the country. In addition to chronicling life in 19th-century Russia, Kennan also wrote about the modernization of Japan and the devastating explosion of the Mt. Pelee volcano on the Caribbean island of Martinique. In 1888, Kennan was the only journalist among the 33 founders of the National Geographic Society.

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National Geographic Society
National Geographic Society
Last Updated

October 19, 2023

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