Famous 19th Century Geographers

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 1 Peter Kropotkin

Peter Kropotkin
6
Famous As: Anarchist, Socialist & Historian
Birthdate: December 9, 1842
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: February 8, 1921

Russian philosopher Peter Kropotkin was a passionate advocate of anarcho-communism. He was also an activist, revolutionary, economist, and sociologist. He was arrested and imprisoned for his activism in 1874. However, he managed to escape and lived in exile for over 40 years in different countries across Europe. He returned to Russia after the Russian Revolution in 1917. 

 2 Halford Mackinder

Halford Mackinder
3
Famous As: Geographer
Birthdate: February 15, 1861
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Gainsborough, England
Died: March 6, 1947

Halford Mackinder was an English geographer, politician, and academic. He is considered one of the founding fathers of geostrategy as well as geopolitics. Mackinder’s work helped establish geography as a separate discipline in the UK. An influential academic, Halford Mackinder held important positions in popular universities, including the University Extension College and the London School of Economics.

 3 Richard Francis Burton

Richard Francis Burton
4
Famous As: Translator
Birthdate: March 19, 1821
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Torquay
Died: October 20, 1890

Richard Francis Burton was a British explorer, soldier, and scholar. He is best remembered for his explorations in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Along with John Hanning Speke, Burton was the first European to witness the Great Lakes of Africa. A prolific writer, Burton wrote several scholarly articles about numerous subjects like sexual practices, falconry, human behavior, travel, and ethnography.

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 4 Alfred Russel Wallace

Alfred Russel Wallace
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Famous As: Naturalist, Explorer, Geographer, Anthropologist and Biologist
Birthdate: January 8, 1823
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Llanbadoc
Died: November 7, 1913

British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace is largely remembered for his theory of evolution through natural selection, which inspired Charles Darwin’s studies. He began his career as a surveyor’s apprentice and later introduced concepts such as reinforcement in animals, also known as the Wallace effect. He was awarded the Order of Merit.

 5 George Everest

George Everest
3
Famous As: Geographer
Birthdate: July 4, 1790
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: London, England
Died: December 1, 1866

George Everest was a British geographer and surveyor. From 1830 to 1843, he served as Surveyor General of India. His work and contributions were honored by naming Mount Everest, the world's highest peak, after him.

 6 Carl O. Sauer

Carl O. Sauer
3
Famous As: Geographer
Birthdate: December 24, 1889
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Warrenton, Missouri, US
Died: July 18, 1975

 7 William Morris Davis

William Morris Davis
3
Famous As: Geographer, Geologist, Meteorologist
Birthdate: February 12, 1850
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: February 5, 1934
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 8 Douglas Mawson

Douglas Mawson
3
Famous As: Explorer, Geologist
Birthdate: May 5, 1882
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Shipley
Died: October 14, 1958

Douglas Mawson was an Australian Antarctic explorer, geologist, and academic. Counted among the most important leaders of the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration, Mawson was honored with a knighthood in 1914. Best remembered for his contribution to Australian geology, Mawson was featured on the Australian one-hundred-dollar note from 1984 to 1996.

 9 Matthew Fontaine Maury

Matthew Fontaine Maury
3
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: January 14, 1806
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Spotsylvania County, Virginia, United States
Died: February 1, 1873

American astronomer, naval officer, oceanographer and author Matthew Fontaine Maury, who first served the United States Navy and then the Confederacy States Navy, made significant contributions in oceanography. His book Physical Geography of the Sea is counted among the first comprehensive books on oceanography. Navies and merchant marines across the world adopted his uniform system of recording oceanographic data.

 10 Paul Vidal de La Blache

Paul Vidal de La Blache
2
Famous As: Geographer
Birthdate: January 22, 1845
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Pézenas, France
Died: April 5, 1918

 11 Ellen Churchill Semple

Ellen Churchill Semple
2
Famous As: Geographer
Birthdate: January 8, 1863
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Died: May 8, 1932

 12 Friedrich Ratzel

Friedrich Ratzel
5
Famous As: Biologist, Geopolitician, Geographer, Zoologist, Political scientist, University teacher
Birthdate: August 30, 1844
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Karlsruhe
Died: August 9, 1904

Friedrich Ratzel was a German ethnographer and geographer. He was the first person to use the term Lebensraum, which would later become an important and popular word among the National Socialists. Also an influential writer, Friedrich Ratzel's works served as a justification for imperial expansion. 

 13 Peter Aufschnaiter

Peter Aufschnaiter
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Famous As: Explorer, Cartographer, Geographer, Rock climber
Birthdate: November 2, 1899
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Kitzbühel
Died: October 12, 1973

 14 Sven Hedin

Sven Hedin
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Famous As: Geographer
Birthdate: February 19, 1865
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Stockholm, Sweden
Died: November 26, 1952

Sven Hedin was a Swedish topographer, geographer, photographer, explorer, illustrator, and travel writer. He is best known for making four expeditions to Central Asia. He later shared his experience in a book titled From Pole to Pole. A respected explorer, Hedin was honored with several prestigious awards and medals during his lifetime.

 15 Elisee Reclus

Elisee Reclus
3
Famous As: Geographer, Anarchist, Writer
Birthdate: March 15, 1830
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Sainte-Foy-la-Grande, France
Died: July 4, 1905

Elisee Reclus was a renowned French geographer, writer, and anarchist best known for his 19-volume masterwork, La Nouvelle Géographie universelle, la terre et les hommes ("Universal Geography"). He received the Gold Medal of the Paris Geographical Society for this work in 1892. He opposed cruelty to animals and advocated nature conservation. He was also a proponent of naturism. 

 16 Nikolay Przhevalsky

Nikolay Przhevalsky
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Famous As: Geographer, Explorer
Birthdate: April 12, 1839
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Smolensk, Russia
Died: November 1, 1888

Nikolay Przhevalsky was a Russian imperial geographer. A renowned explorer of Central and East Asia, he traveled through regions then unknown to the West. He is credited to have made a substantial contribution to European knowledge of Central Asian geography. However, despite his attempts, he could never reach his ultimate goal, the holy city of Lhasa in Tibet.

 17 Hubert Wilkins

Hubert Wilkins
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Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: October 31, 1888
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Mount Bryan, Australia
Died: November 30, 1958

Australian-born British explorer and ornithologist Hubert Wilkins is best remembered for pioneering the use of the submarine for polar exploration. While he initially studied photography and engineering, he later embarked on the world’s first transpolar airplane flight across the Arctic and the first over parts of Antarctica.

 18 Henry Schoolcraft

Henry Schoolcraft
3
Famous As: Geographer
Birthdate: March 28, 1793
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Guilderland, New York, United States
Died: December 10, 1864

 19 James Rennell

James Rennell
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Famous As: Geographer
Birthdate: December 3, 1742
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Chudleigh, England
Died: March 29, 1830

James Rennell was an English historian and geographer. A pioneer of oceanography, Rennell is often referred to as the Father of Oceanography. Rennell, who served as a Surveyor General of Bengal, India, is credited with producing some of the earliest accurate maps of Bengal. James Rennell is also credited with co-founding the Royal Geographical Society in London in 1830.

 20 Ernst Georg Ravenstein

Ernst Georg Ravenstein
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Famous As: Geographer
Birthdate: December 30, 1834
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Frankfurt, Germany
Died: March 13, 1913

Ernst Georg Ravenstein was a German-English cartographer and geographer. His efforts to introduce scientific methods in cartography in the United Kingdom earned him the first Victoria gold medal from the Royal Geographical Society. Ernst Georg Ravenstein is also credited with establishing a sporting association in London called the German Gymnastics Society in 1861.     

 21 Ferdinand von Mueller

Ferdinand von Mueller
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Famous As: Physician & Geographer
Birthdate: June 30, 1825
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Rostock, Germany
Died: October 10, 1896

Ferdinand von Mueller was a German-Australian geographer, physician, and botanist. He is credited with founding the National Herbarium of Victoria, the oldest scientific institution in Victoria. He is also credited with naming several Australian plants. Such is his popularity that many plants, animals, journals, and places in Australia are named after him. 

 22 Ferdinand von Richthofen

Ferdinand von Richthofen
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Famous As: Geographer, Traveler
Birthdate: May 5, 1833
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Pokój, Poland
Died: October 6, 1905

Ferdinand von Richthofen, also known as Baron von Richthofen, was a German geographer who discovered quite a few places in and around China, thus contributing to his book China, the Results of My Travels and the Studies Based Thereon. He worked on chorography and chorology and also developed geomorphology.

 23 Roland Bonaparte

Roland Bonaparte
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Famous As: Prince
Birthdate: May 19, 1858
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: April 14, 1924

Roland Bonaparte was the grandson of Lucien Bonaparte, who was the brother of Emperor Napoleon I. A geographer and photographer, he was part of the research on the Sami community of Norway and the Australian Aborigines. He also headed the Société de Géographie and the Société Astronomique de France.

 24 Arnold Henry Guyot

Arnold Henry Guyot
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Famous As: Geologist, Geographer
Birthdate: September 28, 1807
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Boudevilliers, Switzerland
Died: February 8, 1884

 25 Vasily Dokuchaev

Vasily Dokuchaev
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Famous As: Geologist
Birthdate: March 1, 1846
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Milyukovo, Russia
Died: November 8, 1903

 26 Jedidiah Morse

Jedidiah Morse
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Famous As: Geographer
Birthdate: August 23, 1761
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Woodstock, Connecticut, United States
Died: June 9, 1826

 27 James Croll

James Croll
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Famous As: Geographer, Geologist
Birthdate: January 2, 1821
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Little Whitefield, Perthshire, Scotland
Died: December 15, 1890

 28 Ellsworth Huntington

Ellsworth Huntington
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Famous As: Professor
Birthdate: September 16, 1876
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Galesburg, Illinois, United States
Died: October 17, 1947

 29 Francisco Moreno

Francisco Moreno
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Famous As: Naturalist, Explorer, Anthropologist, Geographer
Birthdate: May 31, 1852
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Died: November 22, 1919

Argentine explorer Francisco Moreno, better known as Perito Moreno, is remembered as one of his country’s greatest heroes. His explorations helped define the border of Chile. He discovered Patagonian treasures such as Mount Fitz Roy and established Argentina’s first national park, Nahuel Huapi. His accolades include the Cullum Geographical Medal.

 30 Joseph Nicollet

Joseph Nicollet
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Famous As: Geographer
Birthdate: July 24, 1786
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Cluse, France
Died: September 11, 1843

French explorer and mathematician Joseph Nicollet had begun his career as a math teacher at age 19. Faced with financial issues, he later moved to the U.S., where he was financially helped by a wealthy family. His exploration of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers helped him chart maps of the region.

 31 Alexander Dalrymple

Alexander Dalrymple
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Famous As: Geographer and hydrographer
Birthdate: July 24, 1737
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: New Hailes, Scotland
Died: June 19, 1808

 32 Lev Berg

Lev Berg
1
Famous As: Geographer
Birthdate: March 14, 1876
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Bender, Moldova
Died: December 24, 1950

 33 Isaiah Bowman

Isaiah Bowman
1
Famous As: Geographer
Birthdate: December 26, 1878
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Waterloo, Canada
Died: January 6, 1950

 34 Joachim Lelewel

Joachim Lelewel
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Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: March 22, 1786
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Warsaw, Poland
Died: May 29, 1861

Joachim Lelewel was a Polish historian, bibliographer, geographer, politician, and polyglot. He is credited with co-founding the Democratic Society for Unity and Brotherhood of All Peoples along with Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx in 1847. Joachim Lelewel is also credited with strongly influencing the Russian revolutionary anarchist Mikhail Bakunin.

 35 Erich von Drygalski

Erich von Drygalski
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Famous As: Geographer
Birthdate: February 9, 1865
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Königsberg, Russia
Died: January 10, 1949

Erich von Drygalski was a German geographer, polar scientist, and geophysicist. He is best remembered for leading two expeditions to explore the unexplored area of Antarctica in the early 1890s with the help of the Society for Geoscience of Berlin. Erich von Drygalski also served as a professor of geophysics and geography in Berlin.

 36 Alfred Hettner

Alfred Hettner
1
Famous As: Geographer
Birthdate: August 6, 1859
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Dresden, Germany
Died: August 31, 1941

 37 Conrad Malte-Brun

Conrad Malte-Brun
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Famous As: Geographer
Birthdate: August 12, 1775
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Thisted, Denmark
Died: December 14, 1826

Conrad Malte-Brun was a Dano-French journalist and geographer. Malte-Brun is best remembered for coining the name Indo-China as well as the name Oceania, a geographic region that includes Melanesia, Micronesia, Australasia, and Polynesia, around 1812. Conrad Malte-Brun is also known as the father of Victor Adolphe Malte-Brun, who was also a famous geographer.

 38 Henry Gannett

Henry Gannett
1
Famous As: Geographers, Explorers
Birthdate: August 24, 1846
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Bath, Maine, United States
Died: November 5, 1914

 39 John George Bartholomew

John George Bartholomew
1
Famous As: Cartographer
Birthdate: March 22, 1860
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: April 14, 1920

 40 Berthold Laufer

Berthold Laufer
1
Famous As: Anthropologist
Birthdate: October 11, 1874
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Cologne, Germany
Died: September 13, 1934

German anthropologist and historical-geographer Berthold Laufer who virtually remained the only sinologist working in the US for over three-decades, made significant contributions in shedding light on the attributes of the Chinese and Tibetan culture. He served as the curator of Asiatic Ethnology and Anthropology at the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, and made major contributions to its collections.

 41 Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore

Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore
1
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: October 14, 1856
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Clinton, Iowa, United States
Died: November 3, 1928

 42 Albrecht Penck

Albrecht Penck
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Famous As: Geographer
Birthdate: September 25, 1858
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Leipzig, Germany
Died: March 7, 1945

German geographer and geologist Albrecht Penck is noted for exercising a major influence on the development of modern German geography and also for his research that confirmed the four ice ages of the European Pleistocene (Gunz, Mindel, Riss, Würm). He co-authored Die Alpen im Eiszeitalter with Eduard Bruckner, which served as a standard reference on the ice ages for many decades.

 43 Carl Humann

Carl Humann
1
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: January 4, 1839
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Essen, Germany
Died: April 12, 1896

Carl Humann, one of the 19th century self-made archaeologists who never studied archaeology nor did any advanced degree in the field, rose to prominence after he discovered the Pergamon Altar that is counted among the finest examples of Hellenistic sculpture. His excavation of the ancient Greek city of Pergamum also brought to light much about Hellenistic city planning.

 44 Zamfir Arbore

Zamfir Arbore
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Famous As: Political activist
Birthdate: November 14, 1848
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Chernivtsi, Ukraine
Died: April 2, 1933

 45 Luigi Robecchi-Bricchetti

Luigi Robecchi-Bricchetti
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Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: May 21, 1855
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Pavia, Italy
Died: May 31, 1926

Italian explorer Luigi Robecchi-Bricchetti was the first person from Europe to cross the Somali peninsula. An illegitimate son of a landowner, he was raised by his mother. Initially interested in civil engineering, he later deviated toward geography and geology, even learning languages such as Arabic and German.

 46 Gerhard Rohlfs

Gerhard Rohlfs
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Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: April 14, 1831
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Vegesack, Germany
Died: June 2, 1896

Being the son of a physician, geographer Gerhard Rohlfs was expected to take up medicine but was more interested in exploring uncharted territories and thus joined the French Foreign Legion. Best known for his journeys across North Africa, he had initially learned Arabic to travel to Morocco disguised as an Arab.

 47 Fritz Graebner

Fritz Graebner
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Famous As: Geographer
Birthdate: March 4, 1877
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: July 13, 1934

German ethnologist Robert Fritz Graebner is known as a pioneering figure of the Vienna School of Ethnology and promoted the theory of Kulturkreise, or culture complex. During World War I, he was interned in Australia as an enemy but utilized his time in studying the different types of culture there.

 48 Arnaud-Michel d'Abbadie

Arnaud-Michel d'Abbadie
1
Famous As: Geographers
Birthdate: July 24, 1815
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Died: November 13, 1893

 49 Aaron Arrowsmith

Aaron Arrowsmith
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Famous As: Cartographer
Birthdate: July 14, 1750
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Winston, England
Died: April 23, 1823

Aaron Arrowsmith was an English cartographer, publisher, and engraver. Aaron, who belonged to the famous Arrowsmith family of geographers, is best remembered for producing the maps of Scotland and North America, which are counted among his most celebrated productions.

 50 Friedrich Benjamin von Lütke

Friedrich Benjamin von Lütke
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Famous As: Navigator
Birthdate: September 28, 1797
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: St. Petersburg, Russia
Died: August 20, 1882