National Geographic has been exploring the world and bringing back its most compelling stories since 1888. At its start, the Society sought to promote public understanding of science and “increase and diffuse geographic knowledge.” With those lofty goals in mind, it funded expeditions around the globe—supporting explorers who trekked to the North and South Poles, documented wildlife in oceans and forests, climbed towering mountains, and excavated ancient ruins.
Follow the journeys of these intrepid adventurers in this gallery of historic National Geographic photographs.
Lead Image: Members of a British expedition team pause for a photograph while skiing through Antarctica. The group, led by Royal Navy officer Robert Falcon Scott, began their trek through the icy tundra in 1910. Though Scott and four crew members reached the South Pole in 1912, the entire team perished on their return journey. PHOTOGRAPH BY HERBERT G. PONTING, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC