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Historical Travels: About

Reconstructing journeys from the past


Whether researching details for historical fiction writing, trying to understand the life experiences of your ancestors, or uncovering mysteries and filling holes in the timelines of other people from  the past, you might have a need or curiosity to figure out how a trip was made from one place to another in a different era.  

  • What modes of transportation were possibly used?    
  • What route was followed?    
  • How much time did it take?
  • How much did it cost?

This guide is designed to help researchers answer these kinds of questions. While there is a heavy concentration on resources for North America, this guide also includes materials on an international scope. As such, the guide aims to help researchers develop a strategy by showing: 

  • the relevant kinds of resources held by NYPL
  • the terminology helpful for discovering additional similar resources in our catalogs
  • online digitized resources beyond NYPL

Click the above tabs to learn more about how Maps, Travel Guides, Timetables, and Additional Resources can assist your research into historical travel. Make sure to click these main heading tabs before exploring the dropdown menus, to get a clear introduction about the material type. 

Fall River Line NYPL Digital Collections Image ID 57037345

Fall River Line NYPL Digital Collections Image ID 57037345

How Recommended Selections are Organized in this Guide

The recommended items in this research guide are only a selection of the vast amount of materials we have at NYPL. As such, make sure to utilize the page Using Our Catalogs, as well as the "Catalog Tips" on each page, to ensure that you are searching our entire collection. 

In addition, please note that the selection of recommended materials in this research guide are organized alphabetically by title.

Under each title are bullet points. These bullet points will include, in the following order:

  • A call number. Certain items might have more than one call number- if so, additional call numbers will be listed.
  • If not apparent from either the title or call number, the area of coverage will be included as a bullet point. 
  • If any additional information might prove useful to understanding the item in the context of historical travels (i.e. Digitized copies, materials at other institutions, publishing companies, etc.), that information will be listed as an additional bullet point. 

Need Assistance? Contact Us!

If you have any questions about our collection or inquiries related to your research, please email us at

You can make a virtual consultation with our reference librarians to talk about your research and formulate next steps. Click here to make a virtual consultation appointment.

For certain cartographic items in the Map Division, you will need to register for a NYPL Special Collections account. With this account, you can request cartographic materials to view in advance of your visit. 

To do so, you can visit the Online Research Catalog to search for collections and use the “Request Appointment” or “Request to Use On-Site” buttons to make your requests. If an item does not have either button, please contact 

If you are requesting materials specifically from the printed Dictionary Catalog, please use your Special Collections account to fill out this specific form.  

Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division Reference Librarians

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Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division Reference Librarians
Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
476 Fifth Avenue (42nd St and Fifth Ave)
First Floor , Room 117
New York, NY 10018
(212) 930-0587

Apply for a Library Card

NYPL Library Card

Apply for a NYPL Library Card by clicking here!

With your card, you can:

  • make advance requests to see maps from the Map Division
  • make appointments or virtual consultation requests
  • use our databases

Please note that you do not need to live in New York City to receive a card!

In memory of

This research guide is completed in memory of Nancy Kandoian, beloved Cataloger and Librarian of the Map Division at NYPL.