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Historic Travel Documents Make Online Debut

Press release by the European Library

Take a journey to the North Pole, book your ticket on a 1930s car trip through eastern Europe or flip through hundreds of historic postcards, maps and guidebooks. These are among over 500 items that have been collected from 13 prestigious national and university libraries in Europe for Travelling Through History – a virtual exhibition created by The European Library.

The opening of the exhibition marks the first time that many of these important historical documents can be accessed online. They were digitised for the EuropeanaTravel project, and the assembled collection covers a broad geographical and historical range. India, Japan, Central Africa and the South Pacific are some of the destinations represented, with objects dating from the 12th century to modern times.

A leather-bound photograph album, documenting a tour around Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina by British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans, is one of the exhibition highlights. Evans was a prolific traveller, who became famous for his excavation of Knossos Palace on the Greek island of Crete. The trip in 1932 retraces a similar journey Evans made on foot in 1875.

The visitors’ book of Dutch scientist and physician Bernardus Paludanus (1550-1633) is also fascinating. This bulky little album with about 1,900 contributions was signed by the many people who visited Paludanus at his home in the Netherlands. It also accompanied Paludanus on his travels to places as far away as Palestine, and includes illustrations by Italian artists of Venetian beauties and a gondola voyage.

Other curiosities include an 1821 visitors’ guide to Poland, and a Baroque map in the shape of a Rose. Vienna – the capital of the Hapsburg Empire – forms the stem of the flower, while the petals of the flower spread across Bohemia. The map is embellished with the crown and the motto of King Leopold I, who ruled over much of Central Europe in the 1680s.

Each object in Travelling Through History is accompanied by curatorial information in English and the main language of the contributing institution. Most objects can also be downloaded.