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ENNC 8500: Narrative and Travel

Alison Booth · Spring 2016

Finding scholarly journal articles about travel literature

Start by searching the MLA International Bibliography (MLAIB), the most comprehensive resource for finding scholarly articles (as well as books and dissertations) about literature in all languages.  You can search for travel literature as a subject heading to find works that focus on that genre, or search for travel within the literary theme field to find criticism on works with a thematic focus on travel.  To get the full text of an article, click on “Find article @ UVa Libraries”, or look up the journal title in VIRGO. 

Finding biographies

The Dictionary of National Biography contains profiles of over 50,000 notable British men and women, from the pre-Roman era to the present, who “have left a mark for any reason, good, bad, or unusual.”  You can search for an individual by name, or open a "People Search" to limit by date range, field of interest, gender, and other categories.  For example, selecting "Travel and exploration" as the field of interest and limiting to "Female" will return biographies of 130 women travellers.

The Dictionary of Literary Biography is a terrific general resource for author biographies.  There are mulitple volumes devoted to biographies of travel writers, which can be accessed directly or through the Literature Resource Center database:

Finding full-text travel literature

Literature Online (LION) contains a surprisingly complete collection of full-text poetry, prose, and drama from Anglo-Saxon times up to the early 20th century. You can search within a particular author or title, or limit by date, gender, ethnicity, or literary movement.  For example, you can search for the word "travel" in all of 19th-century poetry, or search for all texts by British women authors that mention Italy.  Many authors on your syllabus (Equiano, Trollope, James, Wharton, etc.) have searchable texts available in LION.

Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) contains searchable page images of virtually every text published during the 18th c. (mostly British, although some American works are included). In addition to literary works, ECCO contains prose works, including travel guides and memoirs, which you can find by searching for keywords (like "travel*") in the title and limiting the subject area to "History and Geography".

Early American Imprints is similar to ECCO, but primarily for American imprints.  It has a handy index for browsing by genre, featuring "Travel Literature" as a category.  Series I (Evans) covers 1639-1800, and Series II (Shaw-Shoemaker) extends coverage from 1801-1819.

Women's Travel Diaries, a digital archive at Duke University Libraries, contains high-resolution page images of "over 100 diaries written by British and American women who documented their travels to places around the globe, including India, the West Indies, countries in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, as well as around the United States." 

Finding articles in newspapers and periodicals

The library has vast collections of newspapers and periodicals, historical and current, in print, on microfilm, and online.  Listed below are just a few of the online resources for finding historical newspapers and periodicals; consult the newspapers guide for more information.  For current newspapers, LexisNexis and Factiva are your best bets.


ProQuest Historical Newspapers is a searchable archive of major US newspapers, dating back to their initial dates of publication: the NY Times (1851-1999), the Wall Street Journal (1889-1995), the Chicago Tribune (1890-1969), the Washington Post (1877-1987), and the LA Times (1881-1985).

The Times Digital Archive contains full text of the London Times from 1785-1985, including articles, advertisements, illustrations, and photographs.

America's Historical Newspapers is a searchable full-text collection of US newspapers from 1690 to 1922.

The Burney Collection Newspapers are a large collection of full-text British newspapers from the 17th and 18th century.

19th Century British Library Newspapers includes searchable full text and page images of 48 national and regional British newspapers from the collections of the British Library.


American Periodicals Series includes full text of over 1000 journals published in the US between 1740 and 1900.

Finding maps and geographical resources

In addition to the resources listed below, the Scholars' Lab in Alderman Library provides a comprehensive list of digital tools and resources related to maps.  Alderman also has a large physical map collection, located on the 3rd floor and described in the maps guide. 

The David Rumsey Collection is a privately held map collection housed in California. It specializes in 18th and 19th century cartography of the Americas. Areas included, but not limited to: Washington DC, San Francisco, Boston, Lewis and Clark Expedition, Japan Historical.

The Library of Congress Digital Map Collections include thousands of historical and current maps from all over the world. Browse for maps of cities and towns, railroads and other transportation maps, conservation and environment, discovery and exploration, military battles and campaigns, and general maps.

The Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection at the University of Texas is a general collection of more than 250,000 maps covering all areas of the world. More than 5,000 map images from the collection are available online. This includes the general use maps such as those produced by the CIA as well as some historic city  plans that are included from travel guides and bluebooks.

Artstor is a huge database of images that includes maps, photographs, and architectural and city planning images.

Humanities GIS projects

The GeoHumanities site, maintained by the Alliance for Digital Humanities Organizations, maintains a list of Humanities GIS projects.