Age of Exploration

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Age of Exploration is a multi-archive collection relating to major events in European maritime history from c.1420-1920. It focuses primarily on western European explorers – British, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch in particular – and their sea-faring voyages to locate “new lands,” trade routes, establish colonies and settlements, and advance scientific knowledge during this 500 year period.

Highlights include:

  • Captain James Cook’s secret instructions, ships’ logs and journals from three voyages of Cook. These documents relate to early British Pacific exploration and the search for Terra Australis and were written by various crew members and Cook himself.
  • Detailed accounts of John Franklin’s first two attempts to find the Northwest Passage as well as several documents related to his lost expedition and subsequent rescue attempts.
  • Sino-Spanish Codex (Boxer Codex) – this beautifully illustrated document describes countries and peoples bordering the China Sea – especially Japan, China and the Philippines – and is an important piece on early encounters.
  • Marco Polo’s Le Livre des Merveilles, including the illuminations of Maître d’Egerton. This illuminated manuscript compendium dates from c.1410-1412 and is comprised of geographical works and accounts of travels in Asia and Africa.
  • South: Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Glorious Epic of the Antarctic (1919). This silent film includes footage from Shackleton’s Endurance expedition which is considered the last major expedition of Antarctic Exploration.

Material Types:

  • Diaries, journals and ships’ logbooks
  • Printed and manuscript books
  • Correspondence, notes and ephemera
  • Scientific papers, surveys, reports and government documents
  • Publicity and newspaper clippings
  • Maps and charts
  • Artwork, photographs and objects
  • Film footage and audio

Provider: Adam Matthew
Coverage: c.1420-1920