|The Royal Geographical Society map room in 1912.|
On this day in 1913 the members voted overwhelmingly to admit women, after 82 years as an all-male organization. However, the society did occasionally let women in before 1913. In 1882 Isabella Lucy Bird (1831–1904), arguably the greatest Victorian lady traveller, was inducted as the first woman Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society. While the British Empire swept across continents, Bird migrated to far-flung places, many of which barely register on a traveller’s radar even today. She documented her journeys in detailed books with matter-of-fact titles such as Six Months in the Sandwich Islands (1875), A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains(1879), Unbeaten Tracks in Japan (1880), and Korea and Her Neighbors(1898).
|A Mantzu family, Sichuan, China, 1895, by Isabella (Bird) Bishop|
Another fellow was Mary Kingsley (1862-1900), a British explorer who made two pioneering trips to West and Central Africa and was the first European to enter remote parts of Gabon.
|Mary Kingsley source|
The Royal Research Ship Discovery was commissioned by the Royal Geographical Society in 1900 and built by the Dundee Ship Building Company. Discovery was the first ship built in Britain for scientific research and one of the last wooden three masted sailing ships to be constructed. It was launched on 21 March 1901 at a cost of £44,322.