The spread of photography coincided with the heyday of colonialism and the rise of tourism: the second half of the 19th century and the early 20th century. Photography was used to explore new parts of the world, and share it with the home front, often in the form of photo albums.
From the middle of the 19th century, the development of the European rail network and the advent of steamships made it easier to satisfy the curiosity for other cultures. Italy had long been the goal of the ‘Grand Tour’, and the cultural treasures of other European countries were recorded in photo albums as well. America also became a destination, and the cultural centers along the Mediterranean came within reach.
The travel albums collection from the Leiden Print Collection (part of the Special Collections of the Leiden University) is a unique addition to the already known material in the Netherlands. The albums/photographs in the collection give a fascinating impression of Western European perceptions of domestic and foreign cultures at the time.
The collection Travel Photography Albums on the Memory of the Netherlands provides digital access to albums from c. 1865-1940, in relation to Europe (for example, Italy, Switzerland and Norway), America (for example, the United States), the Middle East (Turkish/Arab world) and the Far East (for example, Japan). The photographic quality of the material is excellent.