The Newberry houses an extraordinary collection of maps and sources relating to the history and culture of travel. The geographical coverage is best for the Americas and Western Europe, but all regions of the world are well represented. These materials include maps, published texts, manuscripts, art and photography, and ephemera. The holdings for travel history and culture are also strongest for Europe and the Americas, from the sixteenth through the mid-twentieth century.
Most of these resources may be accessed through the Newberry’s Online Catalog, the Newberry Library Cartographic Catalog or, through separately published specialized catalogs. Many of these materials came to the library as collections assembled by private collectors or corporate entities. Among the most important of these for the study of cartography, travel, and exploration are the Edward E. Ayer Collection, the Everett D. Graff Collection, the William B. Greenlee Collection, the Roger Baskes Collection, the Rand McNally Collection, the Gerald F. Fitzgerald Collection, the H.H. Gousha Collection, The General Drafting Collection, The Illinois Central Railroad Archives, and the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Archives.
Visit Catalogs and Guides to perform a quick search of our cartographic catalog, or visit our Cartographic Catalog directly to search over 75,000 records of maps and reference materials. Browse Research Guides for subject-specific guides that introduce researchers to relevant materials in the Newberry’s collections; or go directly to Special Map Collections and Strengths or the Concise Bibliography of the History of Cartography. Descriptions of the Newberry’s cartographic collection are in a bibliographic guide, Cartography – Publications about the Newberry Library Collections.
The Maps, Travel, and Exploration collection’s special strengths include:
Maps, including separate maps and maps in series, books, and atlases
Original manuscript maps, tracings, and photostats related to the exploration and settlement of the Americas, including a fine collection of portolan charts dating from the 15th into the 17th centuries.
Atlases, with examples of all the great printed land and sea atlases from Ptolemy onwards and extensive holdings in 19th and 20th century general, national, state, and county atlases.
Maps of European regions and cities from the 16th through 18th century.
General maps of the Americas with particular strengths in local history, the West, Midwest and Chicago from the 16th through 19th century.
Travel and transportation maps, primarily of North America, including the largest catalogued collection of railroad maps in the United States and the largest collection of automobile road maps, including the archive of Rand McNally, H. M. Gousha and General Drafting Co.
Narratives dating from the 15th to the 20th centuries, including manuscript and printed accounts by individuals, voyages of exploration and discovery, reports of official, scientific, and commercial expeditions, popular travel accounts, and travel fiction.
Particular strengths include:
Manuscript accounts: Accounts to the early 20th century in Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish; focusing on the Americas, with particular strengths in the North and Central America.
Printed (published) accounts: Accounts in all categories, late 15th century – 1800, in major European publishing or colonial languages; embracing worldwide travel, with emphasis on the Americas and Polar regions; in all categories, 1800-1900, with increasing emphasis on North and Central America (including Hawaii and the Philippines) and Polar regions, though still embracing worldwide travel. Major languages represented; since 1900, focused on North and Central America, Hawaii, the Philippines, and Polar regions, most volumes pre-date 1950, with selective titles after 1950
Guidebooks published in the 19th and 20th centuries, including guides for migrants to and within North America and major series of commercial guidebooks of worldwide interest, such as Baedeker, Michelin, Ward Lock, and Hachette’s Blue Guides. Mostly in English, French, and German, though works published in Dutch, Italian, the Scandinavian Languages, Spanish, and other European languages are also present. Guidebooks serving users of all modes of travel are well represented, with strengths in railroad oriented travelers after 1850 and automobile oriented travelers after 1900 in North America.
Ephemera primarily dating from the 19th and 20th centuries, including travel brochures, timetables, scrapbooks, tickets, and other paper memorabilia. These are global in scope, though the primary emphasis is North American and European travel.
Related Collections of Original Source Literature of Geographical Interest
Geographical textbooks and general geographical works from the 15th into the early 20th century: These include publications for adults and juveniles; and geographical journals. Scientific and popular journals include accounts of expeditions, field work, photography and maps.
Local histories: Including histories of North America, especially Chicago, Illinois, and the Midwest, including city and county directories, gazetteers, and county landownership atlases
Art, views, illustrations and photographs: Materials relating to North America, Hawaii, the Philippines, and Polar Regions from the Renaissance to the 20th century
This includes history of cartography, geography and travel; map reference cartobibliographies; history of printing and travel, exploration/American encounters; and place name literature.