19 November 2008

Old Travel Guides

You may have links to some old maps that show where your family lived, but there is one travel guide from about 100 years ago that was superior then and remains a window into that time. These are the Baedeker Guides. These old guides are still traded, sold, and collected. They are that good. Some of the buildings that are describe may have disappeared, but often their detailed description are in these books.


You might find a copy in a large public library, or for sale online, or viewable online through websites like Google [some even download-able.]


There are other search engines that can find these books, but let me use Google as the example.


I start with the search term "Karl Baedeker" [the quotes are included.]
First you see the web search. Wikipedia, LibraryThing and others have information about the man and his company. Please don't stray yet, you can come back to look.


At the top-left of the webpage you will see: Web Images Maps News Shopping Gmail more now click more you will see a drop-down-list click Books from the list.


The results provide on each result-find a "linked" title of the book, next lines are a very brief description, and the last line of the result is about your accessibility and more place the book might be found. Lets deal with the accessibility: "Full view" - is just that you can page through the book by clicking the title on the first line and for most books download the book to your computer [if you want]. "Snippet view" and "no preview available" - are implying that the book is still under copyright and likely for sale [the Karl Baedeker firm still exists.] Some of these books are for sale by old book dealers. Back to the top of this webpage, there is a blue bar with the words Books Showing all books. If you want to see just the "full view" books, then click the words all books and other choices are listed click full view only. I notice that there are only 63 books left as results. You should look at at least the titles of each and explore the ones you are interested in.


Karl Baedeker being German started in Germany so the older books are on Germany, but all of Europe is included. I see Egypt and Palestine & Syria are on the list. I see Canada and Alaska too. Some of the books address specific areas inside countries. There are many additional books that are not yet available.


Did your ancestor live in Hamburg, Venice, Paris, or London and have need to use, work in, travel on one of the items described in the book?


There are other old travel guides, maybe not this old that are available. Look for Murray, WPA [American Guide Series] and others, however copyright restrictions [AAA books are too recent] will limit the view online.


There are copies of Baedeker Guide to The United States, with an excursion into Mexico are in the John Germany Library in downtown Tampa.

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