The Road Less Traveled: Travelogues in Symphony Hall, 1900-1950

Travelogues-ExhibitThe Road Less Traveled: Travelogues
in Symphony Hall, 1900-1950

Symphony Hall Travelogues

Travel lectures were a popular source of entertainment at Symphony Hall in the early 20th century. The engaging talks by amateur and professional travelers and explorers were often accompanied by colored lantern slides and moving images that transported the audience to far-flung destinations.

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Featured Photographs and Documents
Click the images and links below to view the full documents.



Garrett P. Serviss at Symphony Hall (PDF)
Program of the 1901-1902 lectures by Garrett P. Serviss, an astronomer, journalist, and science fiction writer who gave some of the earliest travel talks in Symphony Hall accompanied by colored lantern slides.


Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd at Symphony Hall (PDF)
Program of Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd’s December 19, 1926, lecture about his flight to the North Pole Rear Admiral Byrd was a naval officer who specialized in feats of exploration. A pioneering aviator and polar explorer, he claimed to be the first to reach the North and South poles by air.


Commander Robert E. Peary at Symphony Hall (PDF)
Poster of Commander Robert E. Peary’s lecture at Symphony Hall, February 17, 1910. Commander Peary (1856-1920) was an American explorer who claimed to have been the first person to reach the geographic North Pole on April 6, 1909.

Travelers Elmendorf, Homes, and Newman
Professional travelers Dwight L. Elmendorf, Burton Holmes, and E.M. Newman gave regular lectures about their travels on the stage of Symphony Hall during the first half of the 20th century, bringing the world to Boston’s door.

Elmendorff was the most elegant, presenting his travels as sophisticated grand tours, while Holmes brought a more informal and chatty approach. Newman’s talks differed with a down-to-earth quality that did not shy away from discussions of poverty and postwar conditions in many countries.

Burton Holmes Travelogues Program,
1916-17 Season
Burton Holmes Travelogues Program,
1918-19 Season
Burton Holmes Travelogues Program,
1926-27 Season
The Elmendorf Lectures brochure,
1916-17 Season
Newman Traveltalks brochure,
1918-19 Season