The desire to explore and innovate is intrinsic to human nature, connecting us to each other and to our forebears. Whether directed inward to study the human condition, or outward to investigate the unknown or uncharted world around us, the yearning for new information, new spaces, and new ways of doing things has shaped the course of history.
One of the Library’s greatest strengths is the Americana collection assembled by James Lenox, which is rich in early printed books of voyages and travels. His library is one of the foundational collections of The New York Public Library and forms the core of the Rare Book Division. Often these documents and artifacts simultaneously serve as evidence of the colonialism, dispossession, oppression, and genocide intertwined with Europeans’ arrival in the Americas. Along with collections of original prints, drawings, photographs, and a wealth of cartographic resources, the Americana collection records pivotal moments of history and conveys the excitement and danger of discovery.
Please note when viewing in the gallery: some items listed here as "on view" have undergone page changes, or have been replaced by similar works from the same series, to preserve and maintain the valued artifacts in accordance with conservation guidelines.