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Travel Writing, Spectacle and World History

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Women's Travel Diaries and Correspondence from The Schlesinger Library at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

There is a growing demand for sources for the study of travel and life writing and this project meets both of these needs.

It offers students and researchers a window to the past and transports them across continents. From the everyday to the extraordinary, these rare diaries and the supporting correspondence describe the travel experiences, destinations and desires of nineteenth and twentieth century American women.

The project has wide ranging interdisciplinary appeal, offering first hand accounts of major historical events as reported by eye witnesses, detailing key interests and themes in women’s lives, providing snapshots of cities, cultures and customs, and charting the rise of modern tourism and the travel industry.

Topics covered include:

  • Emigration and daily life
  • Missionary Work
  • World War I
  • World War II
  • Boxer War in China
  • Frontier Life in America
  • Personal Enlightenment through travel
  • Education and Finishing School
  • Sightseeing, Holidays and Tourism
  • Customs, culture and leisure

From the meticulous accounts of outings and sightseeing of the chaperoned young lady, to the impassioned descriptions of far continents by the determined explorer, these personal accounts are written by women of all ages, travelling for many different reasons, from all walks of life. They cover journeying for work, for pleasure, for charity, for enlightenment, by sea, air and land. The explorations range from vacations to intrepid adventures, and every type of trip in between.