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American Women: Resources from the General Collections

Travel Accounts & Missionary Journals

Fitz W. Guerin. [2 women, one in man's clothing, on sailboat}. 1902. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

Travel accounts of all sorts—published and unpublished, by women and men, by foreigners and Americans, written for pleasure, pay, or spiritual expression—can provide a wealth of unusual detail on topics such as manners, clothing, education, childcare, health, regional differences, interpersonal relationships, and political events.

Such works are rarely indexed, so only patient perusal of individual volumes will uncover the gold. In these often overlooked sources you can explore important questions of gender, class, race, and national identity and observe interactions among people of different cultures.

To locate travel accounts, search the Library of Congress Online Catalog using Library of Congress Subject Headings:

  • African Americans--Travel--History--Sources
  • Travelers
  • Travelers--United States.
  • Travelers' writings.
  • Travelers' writings, American
  • Travelers' writings, American—Bibliography
  • United States--Description and travel.
  • Visitors, Foreign—United States
  • Voyages and travels
  • Voyages and travels—Bibliography
  • [Name of country or state]—Description and travel
  • Women travelers--United States--History.
  • Women travelers
  • Women travelers in literature
  • Women travelers--Bibliography.
  • Women explorers--Biography.
  • Women travelers--Biography.
  • [Name of country or state]—Description and travel

In addition to general or broad search terms, consider the specific terminologies used for various types of travels. Furthermore, consider how these terms translate into foreign languages. Some examples:

  • Female Pedestrian or female walker or (Pedestrienne)
  • Female cyclist 
  • Female motorist
  • Female pilot

This list is meant to serve as a starting point for researchers and is not meant to be comprehensive. Many of these women have yet to be written about or researched. Writers with materials in the Library:

  • Adams, Almeda C., 1865- . Wrote about her experience as a blind traveler. She toured Europe three times.
  • Ahl, Frances Norene.
  • Allen, Harriet Trowbridge. Wrote about Europe and "the East."
  • Anderson, Isabel, 1876-1948. Traveled to East Asia.
  • Bridgman, Eliza Jane (Gillett), Mrs. [from old catalog]. Wrote about China.
  • [Bullard, Anne Tuttle Jones, Mrs.] [from old catalog]. Wrote about Europe.
  • Cazneau, Jane Maria (McManus), 1807-1878. [from old catalog]. Wrote about life in Texas border town, which discusses the U.S. Government relations with Native Americans at that time.
  • Cushing, Caroline Elizabeth Wilde, 1802-1832. Wrote about France and Spain.
  • Delaplain, Sophia, pseud. Wrote about Cuba.
  • Eames, Jane Anthony, 1816-1894. Wrote about Bermuda, and "the East."
  • Faithfull, Emily, 1836?-1895. Forbes, A. S. C., Mrs. Wrote about California including missions and landmarks.
  • Haight, Sarah Rogers.
  • Hall, Margaret Hawthorne
  • Sophia Peabody, 1809-1871. Wrote a journal about traveling in Cuba, ND237.H38 A3 1985.
  • Kemble, Fanny, 1809-1893.
  • Kirkland, Caroline M. (Caroline Matilda), 1801-1864.
  • Le Vert, Octavia (Walton), Mrs., 1810?-1877. [from old catalog]. Europe.
  • [Lippincott, Sara Jane Clarke], 1823-1904. [from old catalog].
  • [Miller, Anna C. (Johnson), Mrs.] [from old catalog].
  • Morrell, Abby Jane, 1809- . Recounts sea voyage between 1829 and 1831 from New England to the South Pacific. Paine, Caroline. Tent and Harem: Notes of an Oriental Trip (1859) is available online via HathiTrust.
  • Palmer, Phoebe, 1807-1874.
  • Ripley, Eliza, 1832-1912. Wrote about New Orleans, Cuba, & Mexico.
  • Schriber, Mary Suzanne, 1938-
  • Scott, Anna M. Sheldon,
  • Mary French, 1847-1936. Traveled "alone" but with an extensive staff. Wrote about her extensive travels of Africa. Shepherd,
  • Mary Rice Young. Travels in Mexico.
  • Shuck, Henrietta Hall, 1817-1844. Wrote about China, also about religion.
  • Smith, Abigail Adams, 1765-1813.
  • Wallis, Mary (Mary Davis). Wrote about Fiji or "Feejee."
  • Willard, Emma (Hart), Mrs., 1787-1870. [from old catalog].
  • Workman, Fanny Bullock, 1859-1925. Two Summers in the ice-wilds of Eastern Karkoram: DS485.K2 W9.
  • Wright, Elizabeth Steel
An English mission in New Guinea. 1919. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Women's experiences far from home can also be found in reports and letters published in women's missionary journals. The general collections have several thousand books and pamphlets by missionaries and missionary organizations. The kind of information you can find includes:

  • names of members of the denomination with home towns
  • donors and dollar amounts
  • obituaries
  • excerpts from letters and journals of women missionaries and foreign women who have been converted
  • annual budgets and meeting reports
  • texts of original hymns sung at meetings and composed by women
  • information on Native American women

Follow the links below to browse these appropriate Library of Congress Subject Headings for locating missionary journals:

Library of Congress Call Numbers: BV2612 and BV2350 (for some missionary journals).

Selected Missionary or Colonial Religious Accounts

Selected Missionary Journals

In journals such as Heathen Woman's Friend (Methodist, 1869-94), Life and Light for Woman (Congregational, 1869-1922), and Messenger of Our Lady of Africa (Roman Catholic, 1930-) you may find names of members of the denomination with home towns; obituaries; excerpts from letters and journals of women missionaries and foreign women who have been converted; texts of original hymns sung at meetings and composed by women; and much more.

Selected Travel Periodicals & Guidebooks

Secondary Sources

The following selected materials link link to more detailed bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog.

Digital Collections

Subscription Databases

The subscription resources marked with a padlock  are available to researchers on-site at the Library of Congress.  If you are unable to visit the Library, you may be able to access these resources through your local public or academic library.

Katsushika, Hokusai, artist. Yokkaichi. 1804. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

To find primary sources related to women and travel in the Library of Congress print collections, you can search the online catalog by keyword, name, or Subject Heading. Earlier publications can be difficult to find, as titles and authors are unknown.

This list is not comprehensive, but is meant to provide a representative sample of formats in the General and International Collections.