Long before Rick Steves and Peter Greenberg showed us how to travel, Burton Holmes was delighting audiences with original travelogues and short films. The fascinating Burton Holmes Archive has a treasure trove of information about early travel writing and the earliest travel films.
“The Burton Holmes Archive is the world’s largest repository of films, photographs, programs, scrapbooks, and other ephemera related to the life and career of Burton Holmes, the “Father of the Travelogue”.
Burton Holmes coined the term “Travelogue” in 1904 to advertise his unique live stage presentations combining stories of his travels with slides and motion pictures. Sophisticated and elegantly attired, Holmes became the world’s most famous traveler during the first half of the 20th century through his books, magazine articles, lectures and films. Born into a prosperous Chicago family in 1870, Holmes turned a chance encounter in the early 1890’s with John L. Stoddard, the then reigning 19th century travel lecturer, into a lifelong career. Each summer for over fifty years Holmes would roam the globe and then tour American auditoriums in the winter; during the 1945-46 season alone, at age 75, he gave 157 two-hour lectures. Slowed by ill health and television, Holmes retired to Hollywood in 1952 and died there in 1958. His company, Burton Holmes International, survived into the 1970s.”
You can discover some of Holmes’ film clips from the 20s and 30s on Youtube.