For one, people of color within the United States were overwhelming left out of the magazine's coverage; when they were included, they were shown occupying menial positions.
The magazine chose to do this, as Ms. Goldberg put it, because "we have a duty, in every story, to present accurate and authentic depictions-a duty heightened when we cover fraught issues such as race".
After 130 years of publication, editors of National Geographic magazine acknowledged that their past coverage of people of color, both in and out of the US was racist, according to a essay in their April issue devoted to the topic of race. She requested the aid of John Mason, a professor at the University of Virginia who specialises in African history and photography. But rarely - if ever - did National Geographic show African Americans or anyone not Caucasian at home or overseas in positions as much else than laborers or "workers". "Black people are pictured". "To rise above our past, we must acknowledge it".
So what kind of racism are we talking about here?
"It's not a flawless article, but it acknowledges the oppression", Mason said.
"People of color were often scantily clothed, people of color were usually not seen in cities, people of color were not often surrounded by technologies of automobiles, airplanes or trains or factories", he said.
White teenage boys "could count on every issue or two of National Geographic having some brown skin bare breasts for them to look at, and I think editors at National Geographic knew that was one of the appeals of their magazine, because women, especially Asian women from the pacific islands, were photographed in ways that were nearly glamour shots".
But the historian also acknowledged the good work the magazine did even during this period in showing its readers the wider world. "Trying to integrate the magazine media with more hiring of diverse writers and minorities in the magazine field is how we apologize for the past", Husni said. "National Geographic comes into existence at the height of colonialism, and the world was divided into the colonizers and the colonized", Goldberg quotes him as saying. "It really creates this us-and-them dichotomy between the civilized and the uncivilized".
Goldberg, the first female editor of the magazine, said Aboriginal Australians were called "savages" in a 1916 story; California cotton workers were dubbed offensive slurs like "pickaninny"; and admitted that Haile Selassie's coronation as Ethiopia's king in 1930 wouldn't have been covered if he was a black man in America. It now can be found in 172 countries and in 43 languages every month.