Leeds University Library

Geography and Travel

Geography and Travel Subject Strength

If you're researching historic travel and topography, Special Collections has a number of collections of books, maps, atlases and manuscripts from the 17th century to the mid 20th century that might be of interest.

Printed geography books

The Geography Collection consists mainly of books on travel and topography.

The collection covers a wide range of countries, notably the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Italy, Germany and the Middle East, among others.

We also have a number of gazetteers and atlases. The majority of the works were published in the 19th century, but there are also a good number of earlier ones.

The earliest books in the collection are two Latin travel books dated 1619.

The Whitaker Collection

The Whitaker Collection consists of over 500 atlases and maps of Great Britain, which were originally the private interest of Dr Harold Whitaker, a former member of the Yorkshire College.

The collection dates from the 17th to the mid-20th century and was donated in 1939. Road books and atlases showing the counties of England and Wales are a strong feature of the collection, which also includes a number of European and world atlases and maps.

Printed travel books

The travel section of the Brotherton Collection includes a large number of early printed books, which give accounts of travels, voyages and other topographical subjects.

The collection comprises over 300 books, including works translated into English, dating from around 1600 to 1750 and covering travels to various European, Middle Eastern and Asian countries.

Many of the works are descriptions of individual countries (including Russia, Turkey, Italy and Spain), by English travellers.

Other works deal with aspects of the history of certain countries - there are, for example, a number of works on slavery - or with specific cities, such as Paris or Rome.

Travel manuscripts

There is a small but interesting group of travel manuscripts of the 17th and 18th centuries in the Brotherton Collection.

The earliest of these manuscripts is Sir Charles Somerset's journey through western Europe in 1611-12.

Others of interest include: