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Travel Writing

Hakluyt Society

The Hakluyt Society publishes scholarly editions of historic voyages and travels. Their website includes a complete list of what they have published. They have also produced regional guides that provide more information about the contents of the travel narratives published about that region.

The Library owns many of these publications. Works out of copyright can also often be found in HathiTrust. For example, the book The quest and occupation of Tahiti by emissaries of Spain during the years 1772-1776 told in despatches and other contemporary documents can be found in UC Library Search and HathiTrust

Search tips

A good strategy for locating travel narratives using UC Library Search is to start in the Advanced Search. Search within "Articles, books, and more" to include the holdings of the other nine UC campus Libraries, plus many of our ebook collections. Limit the Material type to books so that you won't retrieve articles, audiovisual materials, maps, etc. 

Under search filters, change Any field to Subject and search for the phrase (in quotes) "description and travel", then on the next line you can search a geographic area as a subject. As shown in the example, you can search for more than one geographic area at a time, but they should be separated by a capitalized OR.

A search in articles books in more for the subject "description and travel" AND the subject peru OR chile. Limit material type to book

Additional searches you might try follow. To search for these terms as phrases, put them in quotation marks. Where words appear in brackets, you can insert variations. For example "Travelers' writings [nationality]" could be "Travelers' writings American" or "Travelers' writings Brazilian"

In many cases you will have better results if your search is subject is (exact) rather than subject contains.

Travelers [Country of destination] 
Travelers' writings
Travelers' writings [nationality]
Visitors, foreign [Country of destination]
Voyages and travels
Women travelers

Locating the travel narrative

The strategies outlined above will help you search for travel writings. If you have used another tool, such as an encyclopedia or bibliography, to identify a work you want to explore, you can use UC Library Search to determine whether we have a copy available. In Advanced Search, conduct a title search or an author search, and limit the material type to Book

UC Library search includes the print holdings of the 10 UC campus libraries, and it also includes links to ebooks. Some travel narratives have had multiple editions published, all of which will have their own catalog record. Try the limiters "Available Online"  or "Held by Library" to see which copies are most easily accessed. 

If your title search is not fruitful, try an author search instead. There may be variations in the title across multiple editions.

If the title is not available in UC Library Search, try searching for it in HathiTrust. HathiTrust provides access to books from academic libraries that were scanned by Google Books. If the travel narrative was published before 1925, the full text may be available. As the Library is a member of HathiTrust, after logging in with your Calnet ID and passphrase, you will be able to download a PDF of the text.

The full text of the book may also be available for short-term checkout at the Internet Archive.

Google Books

Why use Google Books? Library catalogs (like UC Library Search don't search inside books; using a library catalog, you can search only information about the book (title, author, Library of Congress subject headings, etc.).  Google Books will let you search inside books, which can be very useful for hard-to-find information.  You can then use Google Books' Find in a Library link to locate the book in a UC Berkeley library, or search UC Library Search to see if UC Berkeley owns the book. Try it now:

Google Book Search