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Road maps and travel ephemera collection

Identifier: Maps-Travel-Ephemera

Scope and Content of the Collection

Growing collection of printed travel and tourist ephemera, including travel brochures and automobile road maps, travel guides, museum flyers, local event calendars, hotel directories, theater programs, newspaper and magazine clippings, transportation timetables, postcards, local newsletters, and more. With some exceptions, chronological coverage spans the early 20th century through the early 21st century, though exact publication date ranges for many groups of material vary by a few years.

Mostly issued for free distribution by a variety of local and national businesses, regional commercial organizations, and government agencies. Scattered worldwide geographic coverage, but most extensive for the United States, Canada, and Europe.

Each state, province, region, and country is sorted in up to 4 broad categories, depending on abundance of material: (1) state road maps; (2) other material with statewide/countrywide coverage; (3) items with single county coverage; and (4) items issued for more local places, including towns, tourist attractions of all kinds, natural features, state and national parks, and other places. Geographic areas with limited coverage in this collection may not include all four categories. Below national and state levels, most brochures and maps are filed together by county and local place names. Material which relates to three or more counties or to a well-defined regional area (ie: the Spanish Riviera) is defined under statewide/countrywide coverage as a regional area.

Items for local tourist attractions, museums, restaurants, historic buildings, hotels, and other places are filed by town name (or nearest town name). Similarly, named transportation routes extending beyond city or county boundaries, including federal and state highways, and local or regional roads, are filed as separate places by their own names (in Illinois, examples include Interstate 55, the Illinois Tollway, and the Illinois and Michigan Canal). Materials for natural features are sorted in the same alphabetical sequence as local places, using prominently printed place names reflecting the commercial interests of their creators.

Materials for regions that cross state or country lines can be found in both state/country locations, and is dependent on prominent location listed on the item, for example Yellowstone National Park can be found in both Wyoming and Montana.

Materials relating to historical countries have been sorted by their names as printed on the material. Notes have been added to reflect the connections between historical countries and modern day equivalents (i.e.: Yugoslavia see: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia).


  • Creation: 1876-2018
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1950 - 1990



Materials are English, Spanish, Italian, French, German, and miscellaneous other languages.

Conditions Governing Access

The Road Maps and Travel Ephemera Collection are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Road Maps and Travel Ephemera Collection are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

History of Travel Ephemera

The core of this growing collection of maps and promotional brochures produced for travelers experienced phenomenal growth during the later nineteenth century and twentieth centuries, parallel to the growth of modern mass tourism. New types of transportation, including powered watercraft, locomotives, automobiles, and airplanes increased the speed and range of travel, lowering the cost and time required to reach ever more far flung destinations. Labor reform and rising incomes in many countries also meant that leisure time for recreational travel was available to proportionally larger populations.

Meanwhile, advances in inexpensive printing (including color printing) and the rise of modern advertising encouraged the publication of promotional materials and maps by public entities and private enterprises to capture the attention of travelers. The character and profile of travel destinations diversified and expanded apace, embracing natural and recreational attractions, sporting facilities, private and public resorts, parks and campgrounds, historic and cultural sites, restaurants and other gastronomic attractions, agricultural and industrial landscapes, amusement parks, and all manner of “tourist traps” and roadside attractions.

Automobile tourism, particularly in the United States, accounted for much of this material, while air travel greatly expanded the global reach of tourism after the mid-twentieth Century. The publishers and sponsors of these materials are equally diverse, ranging from large international enterprises such as commercial map publishers, oil companies, hotel and restaurant chains, and airlines to metropolitan, provincial, state, and county authorities, to local publishers and proprietors. Collectively these materials document the personal tastes and itineraries of the travelers who used, preserved, and donated them.


113.1 Linear Feet (91 record carton boxes, 57 full Hollinger boxes, 2 half size Hollinger boxes, and 1 oversize box)


Growing collection of printed road maps and travel ephemera issued to promote local tourism. Scattered worldwide geographic coverage, but most extensive for the United States, Canada, and Europe.


Papers are organized in the following record groups

Record Group 1: Middle West United States and Adjacent Canadian Provinces of Manitoba, Ontario, and Saskatchewan
Boxes 1-45
Record Group 2: United States National, Regional, and Non-Middle West Material
Boxes 1-70
Record Group 3: International Material and Material Related to Countries Other Than the United States
Boxes 1-35

Collection Stack Location

4a 19 1-4, 4a 20 1-2


Various gifts and purchases, 1980s-present.

Processed by

Patrick Morris and Emily Richardson, 2018.


Inventory of the Road Maps and Travel Ephemera Collection, 1876-2018, bulk 1950-1990
Patrick Morris and Emily Richardson
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States