The Collections: Guide to the Collections: Voyages & Exploration
The end of the Middle Ages in Europe led to an increasing interest in the world beyond the narrow confines of the continent. The discoveries made at that time changed Western concepts of the world and the role of Europeans in that world. These discoveries had an impact on the scientific thought, theology, economy, and even the social structure of the West.
The Lilly Library has extensive holdings of manuscripts, printed books, and pamphlets describing travelers' impressions of exotic lands, reporting on expeditions, and documenting the contacts between Europeans and the inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere and the Far East.
Resources are particularly good for the study of the Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch colonial empires. The Bernardo Mendel Collection, with 40,000 printed pieces and 26,000 manuscripts, covers the Spanish overseas empire in Latin America and the Philippines from discovery through independence, with special emphasis on the Andean countries and on Mexico. The library of historian Charles Boxer provides extensive materials on the Dutch and Portuguese colonies, together with interesting rare books on Japan and China. Accounts by French, English and Scottish explorers of the interiors of North America and Africa also are well represented in the Library. The outstanding holdings of early atlases that form part of the Mendel Collection provide visual evidence of the development of geographical knowledge and document the growth of European influence throughout the globe.
Some highlights of the collection include:
- Ptolemy's Cosmographia, with maps (Rome, 1478)
- Bernhard von Breydenbach's Peregrinatio in terram sanctam, with panoramic maps by Erhard Reuwich: the first illustrated book on travel ever printed (Mainz, 1486)
- printed letters of Christopher Columbus describing the new world:
two Stephen Plannck Latin editions (Rome, 1493), a 1494 Basle edition, and a 1497 Strassburg edition
- the famous collection of voyages published by Theodore de Bry in Frankfurt between 1590 and 1655, including the Grands Voyages (to America and the West Indies) and the Petits Voyages (to the East Indies)
Related exhibition catalogues include:
- The Bernardo Mendel Collection [ online version available ]
- I. Discovery [ online version available ]
- XIV. Exotic Printing and the Expansion of Europe 1492-1840 [ online version available ]
- XVI. Brazil from Discovery to Independence [ online version available ]
- XXV. Indians of Latin America [ online version available ]
- XXXIV. Africana in the Lilly Library [ online version available ]
- LVI. Voyages of Scientific Discovery to the New World 1700-1850 [ online version available ]