History of Mass Tourism | Reference eReviews, February 1, 2017

History of Mass Tourism
Adam Matthew, a SAGE company;
Free trial available


By Brett Rohlwing

CONTENT This unique database provides access to thousands of documents, pictures, brochures, and other ephemera related to the study of travel and its social, cultural, and economic relevance. The breadth of materials included serve the interests of academics, travel and tourism professionals, business researchers, and those interested in the development of tourism as an industry and pastime. Whether searching for a specific item or simply browsing by topic, the database is an ample and useful tool.

The focus is the “evolution of British and American working class tourism from c.1850 to 1980.” The considerable growth of tourism as an industry serving all social and economic classes coincides with this time period. Content comes from multiple sources. Primarily, it makes available material from the Thomas Cook Archives, the foundational British travel agency. The booklets, pamphlets, guides, maps, itineraries, and other promotional materials published by Cook are included here.

Further materials are derived from several municipal, state, and national archives from across the United States and Great Britain, and originate not only from published promotional and geographical resources but also from personal items, such as diaries and eyewitness accounts. Video files of promotional films can also be found here.

From the British perspective, information on the rise of working-class resorts (“holiday camps” as they are called), passenger train travel, package tours, and trips to continental Europe, and far-flung outposts of the British Empire is provided. From the American perspective, the rapid rise of train, automobile, and subsequently air travel throughout the country and world is covered, as well as the popularity of scenic or recreational destinations such as national parks, museums, zoos, and amusement parks.

USABILITY There are a variety of ways to access material in this resource. Beyond the standard keyword search box and advanced search options, the collection may be accessed in Galleries of Images, Maps, Promotional Films, and Online Exhibitions for two popular vacation destinations of this time period—Coney Island, Brooklyn, in the United States, and Blackpool in England. Other ways to explore include an interactive World Map and various topical themes such as the business of travel, tourism and children, as well as tourism and women. These themes are carefully curated and rich in content.

There is also a Chronology option, which includes historical travel events along an interactive time line that leads users to brief descriptions of the subject. It covers from 1756 to the present. Searches therein can also be limited by region and/or category. Categories cover such topics as “Transportation,” “The Great Outdoors,” and “Seaside Destinations.”

For some of the material, there are links to related images from the database, although this is not always clear. If the source of the image is mentioned, that source is named as a hyperlink, but the link goes to the image or, at times, to an outside source (even Wikipedia images). Other images have no link at all. Perhaps future iterations of the Chronology will offer a richer selection of links to sources both within and outside of the database to enhance the usefulness of this tool.

This file offers a selection of “Search Directories.” This is simply a list of common subject headings or keywords. There are proper names and places, topics, types of destinations, and other terms in the directory. A separate tab contains the names of countries and U.S. states. While useful to an extent, no context is provided for these terms once selected. A click on “politics,” for example, does not lead to any information on why these items fit into that heading, merely to the various archived items themselves. Users may find this frustrating.

Beyond basic keyword searching and the aforementioned search means, other options for finding information are available. On the advanced search page, there are additional enhancements for browsing by Document Type, Theme, Library (source location), and Regions. The last is broken down primarily by continent and other large areas (e.g., the Caribbean). These limiters can be used simultaneously, allowing for searching along more than just one of those parameters.

Overall, navigating and searching throughout the collection is straightforward and familiar. It should be noted, however, that some topics of interest may elicit unexpected or irrelevant results. A search for “Route 66” for example, produced 19 results. Only five had specifically to do with the famous American highway; the majority of the items highlighted here are from years well before the route’s construction. A search for “I-94” had similar results. As so much of the American travel experience is defined by its roadways, and the concept of the “road trip,” more curating and subject definition along those lines would have been most welcome.

Finally, there is an option titled “My ­Archive,” which allows users to create an account and save the items they have found. This is easy and intuitive to use. One distinctive feature in My Archive is My Lightbox. This is an area to save images from the database. My Lightbox includes a slide-show feature for users to create and display their own presentations from the materials.

PRICING Please contact your Adam ­Matthew representative for pricing.

VERDICT The History of Mass Tourism is a promising and abundant database that has potential appeal to researchers and browsers alike. Academic libraries, particularly ones that specialize in hospitality management and business, will welcome this addition to their database collections. Public libraries might also find this a worthy offering, though it may not be a high-budget priority.

Brett Rohlwing is Business and Patents Librarian at Milwaukee Public Library

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