Leisure, Travel and Mass Culture

The History of Tourism

Indulge with the wealthy as they experience health inspired visits to luxury spas. Assess the entrepreneurial activities of businessmen such as Thomas Cook who democratised longer-range travel. Discover the pleasures of nineteenth and twentieth century leisure travel and the dramatic growth of tourism for the masses.

This collection charts the development of one of the world’s largest and most culturally significant industries. The growth of leisure travel has profoundly influenced global society in the past two hundred years and the unique primary sources in this resource allow scholars and students to trace the evolution and impact of this phenomenon.

From the emergence of travel agencies in the 19th century, to the impact of wilderness tourism on American national identity, and the golden age of package holidays in the 1970s, this content offers a wealth of essential material for any scholar or student of social, cultural and business history.

Material is sourced from a wealth of international archives, including the unique archives of Thomas Cook, the world’s best known travel agency and a pioneer of tourism for the masses.

Key Data

Period Covered

  • 1850-1980


  • Records of package travel innovator Thomas Cook from its first tour in 1841 through to the modern era.
  • Material on iconic seaside resorts such as Coney Island, Rockaway Beach and Blackpool.
  • Early accounts of the ‘American Grand Tour’ describing the birth of American vacations.
  • Guides to wilderness tourism destinations such as Yosemite, Yellowstone and the White Mountains.
  • Marketing materials showing the extraordinary growth of international package holidays in the 1960-1980s.
  • Promotional films from the 1930s-1960s encouraging leisure travel.

Source Archives

  • Blackpool Central Library Local History Centre
  • Brooklyn Historical Society
  • California Historical Society
  • Camping and Caravanning Club Archive
  • John W. Hartman Center, Duke University
  • George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
  • Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans
  • Massachusetts Historical Society
  • Michigan State University
  • The National Archives, UK
  • The Newberry Library
  • New Hampshire Historical Society
  • New York Academy of Medicine Library
  • Thomas Cook Archives
  • University of Westminster Archives

Material Types

  • Travel diaries and journals
  • Scrapbooks
  • Photographs
  • Guidebooks
  • Film
  • Posters
  • Postcards
  • Leaflets and brochures
  • Correspondence
  • Periodicals
  • Maps
  • Government documents
  • Printed books
  • Ephemera
  • Prints, engravings, illustration and sketches

Editorial Board

  • Brad Beaven, University of Portsmouth
  • Sean Griffin, Brooklyn Historical Society
  • Marguerite Shaffer, Miami University
  • Tony Sharkey, Blackpool Central Library Local History Centre
  • Paul Smith, Thomas Cook Archive
  • Anthony Stanonis, Queens University, Belfast
  • Michele Strong, University of South Alabama
  • Eric G. E. Zuelow, University of New England, Editor of Journal of Tourism History

Key Brands

  • Thomas Cook
  • Rand McNally
  • Wagon-Lits
  • Lunn Poly (Polytechnic Touring Association)
  • Camping and Caravanning Club
  • American Hotel Association (AHLA)
  • Pullman Company
  • Cunard White Star Line
  • Raymond and Whitcomb Tours


  • Social and cultural history
  • Tourism and leisure
  • Sociology
  • Advertising and consumerism
  • Globalisation and transnationalism
  • Business and industry
  • The Great Outdoors
  • Road, Rail and Air Travel
  • Package Tours, Cruises and Organised Travel
  • Seaside and Coastal Destinations
  • Historical, Cultural or Religious Tourism
  • Health and Medical Travel
  • International Relations
  • Urban Tours and City Breaks
  • Accommodation, Hospitality and Entertainment
  • Planning and Business
  • Women and Tourism
  • Children and Families

Key Features

  • Interactive world map enables quick and easy searches by region, country and US state.
  • Interactive chronology charting the history of tourism through the ages.
  • The Business of Travel, an A-Z biographical list of the major businesses and organisations.
  • Contextual essays written by leading academics and collection specialists.
  • Fully searchable image gallery
  • Read first-hand accounts of fascinating journeys in Eyewitness Travels.
  • Carefully selected external links to aid research.
  • Search directories providing useful keywords, countries and states found within Leisure, Travel & Mass Culture: The History of Tourism.


Suitable for historical research by high-school and college students and for scholarly research.

This resource is a multi-archive collection that explores the evolution of European and American working-class tourism from the mid-nineteenth to late twentieth centuries. Sources include the collections ......

Useful starting point for scholars interested in developing particular case studies within this history.

The History of Mass Tourism is a multi-archival, interactive, online resource, which allows students and researchers to trace the emergence of mass tourism in Britain and America, from the ......

This is highly recommended for academic libraries.

Adam Matthew Digital's History of Mass Tourism database has been described as a "scrapbook." Containing many scans of original source material, I would agree that this is an apt ......

The History of Mass Tourism is a promising and abundant database that has potential appeal to researchers and browsers alike

VERDICT The History of Mass Tourism is a promising and abundant database that has potential appeal to researchers and browsers alike. Academic libraries, particularly ones that specialize in hospitality management ......

Highly recommended. Undergraduates through advanced scholars.

The documents are beautifully captured in full color and supplied with ample metadata and information about copyright, and the system supports export of records to popular citation-management tools. Users ......