Introduction

Southwestern University's A. Frank Smith, Jr. Library Center's Special Collections holds approximately 200 book titles as well as more than 2500 maps printed before 1900 related to travel and description of foreign countries, including the Republic of Texas. These historical accounts of early travel include books, journals, and diaries ranging in subject matter and location from Harriet Beecher Stowe's description of small town life in Connecticut to David Livingstone's depiction of Africa. Written by explorers, missionaries, soldiers, jurists, and literary figures, these works satisfied the curiosity of nineteenth century readers unable to travel beyond the pages of books and maps.

This online exhibit displays just a few of these many works. The quotation that titles the exhibit, and it will be quite unlike any land that you know about, is taken from Rudyard Kipling's 1890 edition of Letters from the East. The quote refers to Burma.

Among the oldest —and smallest— works is a 1627 travel book about Switzerland, Heluetiorum Respublica, written in Latin. The largest travel book is an 1848 elephant folio volume related to Afghanistan. This British work by James Rattray describes the various tribes and regions of Afghanistan in the context of the British struggles there—all illustrated with magnificent color plates.

In addition to the many maps found in books, the Cox Map Collection has a total of over 4,000 maps, most of North America and about half printed before 1900. Many of the maps appear to have been removed from government publications. In addition to illustrating lands, they survey canals, dams, rivers, harbors, military bases, mines, and even tornadoes and diseases. The Clark Map Collection holds 78 maps, mostly of Texas and Mexico.

To browse these titles and more relating to travel and description, please see our online Voyager catalog or visit the library's Special Collections department during weekdays Monday-Friday from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm and 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm.

 

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