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.

19th Year Flyer - 1911

We also own the collection of Andre de la Varre, a cameraman and travel filmmaker  closely associated with Burton Holmes for more than fifty years.  Born in Washington D.C. in 1902, de la Varre quit school at age 17, bought a motion picture camera, and went to Europe to find adventure. He began making his own travel films and in 1924 became  Holmes’ chief cameraman. In the early 1930’s, de la Varre went out on his own as “The Screen Traveler” and made theatrical shorts for independent release as well as for many of the major Hollywood Studios. He traveled and filmed constantly. In an autobiographical sketch, he wrote: “During the winter of 1938-39 I drove more than 10,000 miles through Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. I covered not only cities and coastal regions but criss-crossed back and forth over the Atlas, Djurdjura, Kebelie, and Aures mountains. I also visited many of the oases on the Northern Sahara and crossed over trails or no trails in the deserts and mountains.” In the mid-1950s de la Varre returned to the Holmes organization and produced films for them after Holmes death. He retired to Vienna, Austria in the 1970s and  died there in 1989.