Veracruz to Zimbabwe

Veracruz map

Veracruz, Mexico

Map, 1846

Daniel Garrison Brinton (1837–1899) was the scholarly version of an armchair traveler.  Dedicating himself to anthropological and linguistic studies of the indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere, particularly in Mesoamerica, he undertook no fieldwork or expeditions, but he was a serious collector of publications and archival materials, a prolific writer of scholarly books and essays, and a professor of American linguistics and archaeology at the University of Pennsylvania from 1886 until his death. His papers include correspondence, writings, notes and notebooks, drawings, photographs, and maps, all accumulated from his position at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, where his personal library was used to establish the Museum Library in 1900.  This beautiful map of part of the department of Veracruz, on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico northwest of the city of Veracruz, was made by an unknown hand in 1846, the year that the Mexican-American War began.

Daniel Garrison Brinton papers, 1869-1901, undated, Ms. Coll. 690

(Vermont): Letter from Henry the Cat to his owners George and Helen Seldes


Letter from Henry the Cat to Pop and Mom, a.k.a. George and Helen Seldes, 1962

Henry the Cat writes to George and Helen Seldes (Pop and Mom) describing his trip from Barnard to Cousin Judith's house in Vermont, which is to be his home until the Seldeses return from their own trip to Spain. Henry is quite observant and has a lot to say about his “hectic trip” (Judith took the wrong turn and drove too fast), the changes to Judith's property, and their evening activities. Being a cat, Henry makes sure to add a bit of a guilt trip, writing, "I cried a little because I knew I would not see you for quite a long time, but … I will be brave."

George Seldes papers, Ms. Coll. 1140 (in process)

Warwick map

Warwick, England

Map, 1616

This map comes from the only Latin edition of John Speed’s Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine, an atlas with the first county maps of England and Wales. The Latin text on the back lists prominent citizens of Warwick County and provides a brief history of the region. Happily, Coventry is in Warwick County, so the legend of Lady Godiva’s naked ride through that city features prominently. Speed’s town plans (here, in the upper corners of the map) are considered by many to be his most important contribution to cartography since they were the first detailed representations of many cities. “A Scale of Pases” in the Warwick plan indicates that Speed mapped it himself; he relied on other people’s research for the plan of Coventry.

Mapcase G5753.W3 1616 .S7

(West): Wagon Train: A Family Goes West in 1865


Wagon train : a family goes west in 1865, by Courtni C. Wright ; illustrated by Gershom Griffith. New York: Holiday House, [1995]

This is the story of an African American family who travels "West," to explore a land of opportunity and freedom that might not exist in the "East," particularly in Virginia. The family travels from Virginia, through Missouri, and along the Oregon Trail before finally arriving in California. Like so many who traveled West, this family's experience was filled with challenges, hardships, worry, and fear.

Joanna Banks Collection of African American Children's Books, E185.925 .W75 1995

Xanadu: Kubla Khan : a pop-up version of Coleridge's classic


Kubla Khan : a pop-up version of Coleridge's classic, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge; illustrated by Nick Bantock; designed by Barbara Hodgson and Nick Bantock; paper engineering by Nick Bantock and Dennis K. Meyer. New York: Viking, 1994

This dramatic pop-up book puts Samuel Coleridge's poem "Kubla Khan" in a 3-D visual world. The almost magical and dream-like feel to the pop-up illustrations is particularly apt since Coleridge apparently wrote the poem after he experienced an opium-influenced dream. Xanadu is a fictional place based upon Shangdu, near present-day Duolun in Inner Mongolia where Kublai Khan governed the Mongols in the early 1260s. Since the poem was written, the name "Xanadu" has become common in popular culture.

PR4480 .K8 1994

(Xiamen) Watercolor drawing

Xiamen, China

Watercolor drawing, 1884

Xiamen, previously known as Amoy, is located on China’s east coast along the Taiwan Strait. This majestic panorama of the city is one of many documenting a French sailor's trip from Brest, France to China during the Sino-French War. Along the way, this very talented sailor, who was probably on board the D’Estaing, drew scenes from the ship, including coastlines and landmarks in Portugal, Spain, North Africa, the Suez Canal, Singapore and China.

Sketchbook by a French sailor, 1884, Ms. Coll. 781

(Yellowstone): Cubby in wonderland

Yellowstone, Wyoming

Cubby in wonderland, by Frances Joyce Farnsworth. New York: Abingdon Press, 1938

Cubby the Bear, with his mother, visits Yellowstone and all the delights of the park. Cubby explores the rivers, mountains, geysers, and lakes and meets all sorts of critters like red squirrels, muskrats, Rocky Mountain jays, mice, mule deer, big horn sheep, porcupines, woodchucks, skunks, water ouzels, Canadian geese, and even other bears!

Caroline F. Schimmel Collection of Women in the American Wilderness, Schimmel Fiction 2016 (in process)

(Yemen): A journey through the Yemen and some general remarks upon that country, by Walter B. Harris. Illustrated from sketches and photographs taken by the author.


A journey through the Yemen and some general remarks upon that country, by Walter B. Harris; illustrated from sketches and photographs taken by the author. Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1893

“No Englishman crossed the frontier into Turkish Yemen in January of 1892. No; the only stranger was a penurious Greek shopkeeper of Port Said, who rode his baggage-camel.” 

So writes Englishman Walter Burton Harris (1866-1933) of his cunning ploy to slip past Turkish authorities and enter Yemen. Disguise came naturally to the flamboyant Harris. At 19, he had moved to Morocco, where he was able to pass as a native because of his language skills and appearance. He explored and wrote about areas in Morocco other Europeans could not travel to. His work regularly appeared in The Times and, in 1892, the paper sent him to Yemen as Special Correspondent. This lively book describes his adventures there and provides a highly readable description of the region and its history. His love and admiration for the country and its people are palpable, as is his indignation when Turkish authorities finally discover his real identity and imprison him. The conflicts he describes—foreign powers fighting proxy wars in Yemen—are eerily similar to present-day events.

DS247.Y4 H3 1893

(Yugoslavia): Ephemera from a trip


Ephemera from a trip, 1951

George Seldes, an investigative journalist best known for the newsletter In Fact, traveled to Yugoslavia in 1951 to interview Josip Tito, President of Yugoslavia. Accompanied by his wife, Helen, he spent three months enjoying the Adriatic coast from the comfort of Tito’s Villa Scheherezade in Dubrovnik. This comfortable existence seems to have been rudely interrupted on June 22, “the night of a thousand mosquitos!” Ahh, George ... only a few words, but such a mighty visual!

George Seldes papers, Ms. Coll. 1140 (in process)

(Zanzibar): Through the Dark continent: or, The sources of the Nile, around the great lakes of equatorial Africa, and down the Livingstone river to the Atlantic ocean; by Henry M. Stanley ... With ten maps and one hundred and fifty woodcuts ...


Through the Dark continent: or, The sources of the Nile, around the great lakes of equatorial Africa, and down the Livingstone River to the Atlantic Ocean, by Henry M. Stanley ... With ten maps and one hundred and fifty woodcuts ... New York: Harper & Brothers, 1878

Henry Morton Stanley's 999-day trans-Africa expedition began in Zanzibar. Charged with exploring Lakes Albert, Victoria and Tanganyika, the Lualaba River, and identifying the source of the Nile, Stanley and his team traveled 7,000 miles, crossing the African continent from east to west. In 1878, he published Through the Dark Continent chronicling his journey. (Stanley is believed to have coined the term "Dark Continent.") The account is styled like a journal with dated entries. In a 1990 article in The New Yorker, Jeremy Bernstein writes that “the journal form preserves the illusion that Stanley did not know the outcome of the events he was writing about—who had survived and who had died, who had behaved well and who had broken, what had been accomplished and what had failed.”  The resulting uncertainty readers experienced made it a page-turner, and an incredible success, but Stanley's legacy is mixed. Considered by many the greatest explorer of the 19th century, Stanley's reputation is tarnished by his often exagerated and self-aggrandizing accounts and by his treatment of Africans and attitudes towards women.

DT351 .S83

(Zimbabwe): Sally in Rhodesia / by Sheila Macdonald.


Sally in Rhodesia, by Sheila Macdonald. Sydney: Cornstalk Publishing Co., 1928

Shiela Macdonald was born in New Zealand in 1880. In 1907, she set off for Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) to marry her fiancé. The big, beautiful wedding she anticipated never happened. Instead, after drinking bad water and becoming horrifically ill, she was married from her hospital bed with only nurses in attendance. And so begins Shiela’s life in the British-ruled African colony. This autobiographical account of her experiences as a young bride and mother in Rhodesia is told though humorous letters written by “Sally” to her mother. Sheila seems to have relished her time there; the letters are full of delight and wonder at all she saw and experienced, but they also vividly expose white colonial attitudes and prejudices.

Library of Theodore Dreiser. DT962.4 .M3 1928

(Zimbabwe): Where are you going Manyoni? / Catherine Stock.


Where are you going Manyoni? by Catherine Stock. New York: Morrow Junior Books, 1993

Every morning Manyoni walks to school. Her daily journey along the Limpopo riverbed takes her past baobab and wild fig trees, through a kloof, along a krantz, and onto the open plains—all environments where Zimbabwe's diverse wildlife thrives. Catherine Stock's watercolors of Zimbabwe's sweeping landscapes, flora and fauna are stunning. Manyoni is in each one, and it is great fun trying to find her in all of them.

This book was designed by Atha Tehon, art director at Dial Books for Young Readers. Her papers are also at the Kislak Center and are available for research.

Atha Tehon Thiras Collection, PZ7.S8635 Wh 1993

Veracruz to Zimbabwe