Travel History Collections

Our collections are arranged geographically and by period so items on travel writing are located in different sections of the library, usually according to the region being described. This page shows some examples from the collections.


The IHR library's collections are arranged geographically, by period and type of material, so items on travel writing are located in different sections of the library, usually according to the region being described. The library collects bibliographies and archive guides, reference works, historiography, published primary sources and periodicals, covering western Europe and its colonial history, from the fifth century onwards.

Within the primary sources are a lot of editions of travel writing, including the publications of the Hakluyt Society, a vast series of "editions of primary records of voyages, travels and other geographical material". Different types of travel are represented, for example pilgrimage, exploration, leisure and educational travel. Material is generally collected in its original language. The items listed below are just a selection highlighting the range of material we hold, you can browse our full holdings on the catalogue.

Highlights from the Collections

Bibliographies and Archive Guides

Useful as a starting point into sources on the subject, these range from general to specific subjects. Although not for all collections, these are usually at the start of the relevant classmark sequence, e.g. B.0 for British history, EF.0 for French history etc.

Reference Works, Biographical Dictionaries and Historiography

Published Sources

We hold a huge range of editions of travel writing, including the volumes of the Haklyut Society, shelved together in the Colonial section (classmark C) and the Linschoten Vereeniging publications, in the Low Countries collection (ENA). A large proportion is also held in the General collection (E), arranged chronologically. There is also some material within the regional collections usually, but not always, classified according to the place being described rather than the nationality of the traveller. 


We hold a range of journals which include relevant articles. Current copies of our journals are on open access in the library, and back issues can be ordered from the stack. Many are also available online within the building via the links on the catalogue entry. BBIH and JSTOR are examples of the online databases that can be used to locate journal articles.

Online Resources

See full list of online resources. Below are a few examples of resources that could be useful for this subject (most are available onsite in the IHR or via subscription only):

Other Collections

Within IHR library

Senate House Library

Other libraries, archives, organisations

Further Help

Contact us if you would like help on finding or using our collections, or if you have any comments or suggestions about the content of this guide. We are happy to help.

You can also book a tour or training session.