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The USGS Henry Gannett Award

Introduced at the 125th anniversary of the USGS Topographic Mapping Program on December 3, 2009, the Henry Gannett Award commemorates Gannett's varied contributions and passions for American geography and cartography while recognizing sustained and distinguished contributions to contemporary USGS topographic mapping.

If you have ever used a topographic map to find your way around a remote part of the country, or if you've ever taken note of how geographic names reflect the history of the land and the culture of its inhabitants, you'll appreciate the pioneering work of Henry Gannett, an early American geographer often considered to be the father of topographic mapping in the United States.


Henry Gannett


Henry Gannett
Born in Bath, Maine, in 1846, and educated at Harvard University, Gannett began his career in topographic mapping with the Hayden Survey in 1871. The USGS Geography Program was established under his direction, and he served as Chief Geographer of the Survey from 1882 to 1914. Under his command, the program's first topographic map sheets were produced. Through his work as a geographer of the U.S. censuses of 1880, 1890, and 1900 and the Philippine, Cuban, and Puerto Rican censuses, Gannett became interested in place names. His efforts to resolve difficulties caused by the confusion and duplication of geographic names, especially in Western lands, contributed to the establishment of the U.S. Board of Geographic Names in 1890. Gannett was also one of the founders of the National Geographic Society (founding member, 1883; president, 1910-14), the Geological Society of America, and the Association of American Geographers.

Related Articles

Henry Gannett, Early American Geographer

    A USGS Science Feature 'Top Story', in support of Earth Science Week, October 14-20, 2012.

Henry Gannett: National Geographic Founder and "The Man Whose Brain Conceived It"

    From the National Geographic's "Founders Series", marking the 125th anniversary of the National Geographic Society occurring in 2013.

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