Samuel Shenton, a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and the Royal Geographic Society, founded the Flat Earth Society in 1956, after renaming it from the Universal Zetetic Society. He led the Flat Earth Society from its founding in 1956 until his death in 1971, at which time leadership passed to Charles K. Johnson. Shenton collected material, gave lectures and generated publicity for the Society so that by his death in 1971 the Society had over 100 members.
Samuel Shenton managed to acquire a fairly large following and remained the president of the society until his death in 1971. When the first photographs of the earth were published early in the early years of spaceflight, Shenton dismissed them as an optical illusion caused by a wide-angle lens which made the earth seem curved when it was not. Later he would dismiss all the photos as fakes along with the entire space program.