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Travel: literature and guidebooks

Finding travel literature in Special Collections

To browse finding aids for Princeton collections related to travel, go to and choose Travel from the subject list.

The Grand Tour

In 1999, Princeton University Library presented an exhibition based on our holdings of materials on the Grand Tour in the 18th century. As described in the press release:

In Search of Art: The English Grand Tour Princeton, N.J. -- The current exhibition in Main Gallery of Firestone Library, In Search of Art: The English Grand Tour, tells the story of the Grand Tour with original art and beautifully illustrated rare books in the library collections of Princeton University. The idea of travel as a means of personal enlightenment first emerged in 18th-century England, where a journey abroad was eventually regarded as a cultural necessity, as the culmination of a young gentleman's education. English travelers generally headed toward Italy by way of France and Switzerland, seeking the classical landscapes and artistic treasures of Rome, Naples, Florence, and Venice as their ultimate destination, the crowning experience of the Grand Tour. Many great artists and writers passed that way, and learned new tastes which helped to bring about the stylistic revolution known as the Classical Revival. Examples of their work will be shown in original editions along with travel guides, souvenirs, satirical prints, and landscape views printed in aquatint and other innovative printmaking processes.

The labels from the items in the exhibition can be found at

Travel accounts

In addition to the Kane and McCormick Collections (see AMERICANA in this Guide), the Library has a substantial number of such accounts, which are classified between Ex 1003 and Ex 1999. The following notes only hint at what the Library has.

The Julian W. Feiss '27 Collection of Africana concentrates on works dealing with African travel experiences of Europeans (19th century). See: Edward A. Tiryakian '52, "An important addition to Princeton's Africana" in the Princeton University Library Chronicle XXIII, 4 (Summer, 1964) pp. 178-181 [ full text].

A collection purchased from Gilbert Chinard (some 500 volumes) ranges over a very broad area of subjects but includes noteworthy volumes of travel accounts and imaginary voyages. It includes, among others,


  • Anacharsis Brissot de Warvill. Voyage au Guazacoalcos, aux Antilles et aux Etats-Unis (Paris, 1837).
  • Dralsé de Grandpierre. Relation de Divers Voyages Faits dans l'Afrique, dans l'Amérique, & aux Indes Occidentales (Paris, 1718).
  • Relation d'un Voyage du Pole Arctique au Pole Anarctique par le Centre du Monde (Amsterdam, 1723).
  • Simon Tyssot de Patot. La Vie, les Avantures, & le Voyage de Groenland du Révérend Père Cordelier Pierre de Mésange (Amsterdam, 1720).
  • Gabriel de Foigny. Les Aventures de Jacques Sadeur (several editions).
  • Simon Tyssot de Patot. Voyages et Aventures de Jacques Massé (several editions).

The accounts also include, as a gift from Timothy N. Pfeiffer '08, the handsomely printed and illustrated Historiale description de l'Afriqve, published by Jean Temporal at Lyons in 1556 [(Ex) 1804.579.11q]; the first French edition (Paris, 1686) of Exquemelin's famous history of the buccaneers (the fountain-head of all pirate stories) [(Ex) 1330.332.12]; and the author's presentation copy of Claude Le Beau's Avantures du Sr. C. Le Beau, avocat en parlement, ou Voyage curieux et nouveau parmi les Sauvages de l'Amérique Septentrionale (Amsterdam, 1738) [(Ex) 1070.569].

[From Steve Ferguson's Guide to Selected Special Collections]