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Personal narratives in the US collection – part 2 (travel writing)

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This post was written for us by library intern Lisa Smoltino.

pile_of_booksTravel writing is quite the trend these days, with books and blogs gaining popularity more and more every day.    People have been interested in this style of writing for decades, however, and a look through the IHR US collection reveals travel diaries from as early as the 1700s.

The Dominguez-Escalante Journal chronicles a journey through the Rocky Mountains in an effort to find a route from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Monterey, California.  Much like Hernando Cortes’ writings, these journals were intended to give a detailed description to the King of Spain.  This diary gives a look at how America was viewed in the earliest days of exploration.

Published in 1845 Travel in North America by Charles Lyell compiles geological observations into two volumes of detailed travel writing.  Writing in a first person, diary style format, Lyell describes various places such as Boston, Massachusetts and New Haven, Connecticut throughout varies times of the year.

The Gold Rush played a part in the exploration and settlement of the American West. Everyday citizens became adventurers and travellers as they searched for a new, prosperous life in little known areas of the country.  In Bound for Montana: Diaries from the Bozeman Trail, the reader gets a sense of what it was like to cross a rugged trail in search of a new life.  The book combines the daily diaries of seven men who travelled along the trail, dealing with harsh landscapes and dangerous Indian encounters.

Yellowstone National Park is perhaps one of the most well known travel destinations in the American West, but what was it like before all the traffic and tour buses started to arrive? Yellowstone and the Great West: Journals, Letters and Images from the 1871 Hayden Expedition allows the reader to get a feel for what travelling there before the crowds would have been like.

This is just a sample of personal narratives from the IHR’s US collection.  More detailed information about the rest of the collection can be found in the United States collection guide.