June Blog Post: London Calling

During the month of June, I identified primary source materials for my thesis by exploring the online databases of the British Library in London and the Bodleian library at Oxford University. My goal was to locate first hand accounts of British travellers during the sixteenth and seventeenth century. I complied an extensive list of primary resource materials and booked my flight to the United Kingdom.

On June 5th I arrived in London and stayed at a bed and breakfast within walking distance of the British Library. For several days I worked on rare books, becoming accustomed to reading print with sixteenth and seventeenth century styles of spelling, diction, and sentence structure. For the remainder of my time in London I read handwritten manuscripts, including the journals of English travelers, memoirs commemorating their trips, and letters sent while traveling. Studying these manuscripts was challenging. Inscrutable handwriting and faded print were obstacles to overcome in reading the words and deciphering the meaning of these texts. I enjoyed finding unexpected and exciting diversions in these works, including hand-drawn sketches, passages of poetry, and encoded letters. On Sunday, when the British Library was closed, I visited the British Museum and spent an interesting day viewing their collections, including objects brought back from early trips to Europe and America.

Following my stay in London, I traveled to Oxford, and spent a day at the Bodleian Library. After completing the application process, I was granted admission to the special collections. With the permission of the library staff, I photographed a number of manuscripts to read when I returned to the United States. My trip to the United Kingdom to locate primary sources was a success, and I am excited to continue my research at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC!


  1. mkmcculla says:

    Your research sounds fascinating thus far! I had to do some of my own research at the Library of Congress, and I wonder how the application process to gain access to their collections compares to those of the Bodleian and British Library. Are you finding that there seem to be more guides for people who intend to travel or memoirs from those of who have already ventured forth? I look forward to hearing more about your honors research!