UCL News


UCL collections to enrich European cultural heritage portal

9 June 2009


EuropeanaTravel logo europeana.eu/portal/" target="_self">Europeana
  • UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies
  • Books, maps and manuscripts from the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES) that date back nearly 500 years will reach a global audience on a new cultural heritage portal giving access to digital content on the themes of travel, tourism, trade routes and exploration from Europe's leading libraries.

    Under the auspices of EuropeanaTravel - a two-year digitisation project funded by the European Union - UCL SSEES will contribute around 160,000 pages from 300 books and other works to Europeana.eu, providing comprehensive coverage of travel writing relating to Central, Eastern and Southern Europe, and Russia from 1557-1860. Two-thirds of the collection is written in English, but significant works in French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Latin, Polish and Russian will also be represented.

    Supplementing the book collection are two volumes of previously unpublished photographs and sketches by Arthur John Evans (1851-1941), who became famous for his archaeological excavations of Knossos Palace in Crete in 1899-1907. Two handwritten diaries of his wife Margaret detail a journey taken in 1883 with her husband to Greece, Macedonia and Bulgaria. In addition, over 200 historic maps, some dating back to the 16th century, will be made available.

    Lesley Pitman, Librarian & Director of Information Services at UCL SSEES, said: "Many volumes have outstanding plates of drawings and folded maps, some in colour. Some of the most attractive volumes date from the 17th century. They include works by Edward Brown, such as his A brief account of some travels in Hungaria, Servia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Thessaly, Austria, Styria,Carinthia, Carniola, and Friuli which has attractive engravings. Other important authors featured in the collection include William Coxe, the Marquis de Custine, August Haxthausen, Alexander von Humboldt, Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz, Peter Simon Pallas, Sergei Pleshcheev, Edmund Spencer and Ferdinand Wrangel."

    As pressure grows on the world's wildernesses, and air travel and mass tourism threaten the ecology of unspoilt destinations, it is intended that Europeana.eu will provide a focus for the study of the origins and impacts of travel and tourism.

    EuropeanaTravel will also demonstrate that economic migration is not a new phenomenon, as ancient trade routes and population movements will be tracked in the project. The portal already links to nearly five million digital resources from the museums, archives, libraries and audiovisual collections of Europe.

    Paul Ayris, Director of UCL Library Services, said: "The single most important thing libraries can do to help foster the new digital culture in arts, humanities and social sciences is to create more digital content. This is what EuropeanaTravel aims to do in the fields of travel and tourism. Academic researchers and students in a range of areas - such as history, the environment and European studies - will benefit from the digitised items created by this project, opening up new areas of research and study. It's a major contribution to creating a body of quality digital material in these areas."

    Images: 'A Hungarian man' (top) and 'A Bulgarian woman' from a rare travel book in UCL SSEES Library by Edward Brown, dated 1685 and entitled A brief account of some travels in divers parts of Europe : viz. Hungaria, Servia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Thessaly, Austria, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola, and Friuli, through a great part of Germany and the Low-Countries ... : with some observations on the gold, silver, copper, quick-silver mines, and the baths and mineral waters in those parts, as also the description of many antiquities, habits, fortifications, and remarkable places


    UCL context

    The UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies is one of the world's leading specialist institutions, and the largest national centre in the UK, for the study of Central, Eastern and South-East Europe and Russia.

    Involvement in EuropeanaTravel builds on longstanding research activity in travel writing at SSEES. Since 2003, Dr Wendy Bracewell has led 'East Looks West', a project on East European travel writing aimed at researching, developing resources and publishing work on East European travel writing, 1600-2000 and beyond.
    Funding for this project has been provided by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Modern Humanities Research Association, the Leverhulme Trust, the British Academy and the British Council.

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