Selection Criteria

Illumination of a man meeting with messengers, from Le Livre des Merveilles.

The content in Age of Exploration has been selected in close collaboration with collection staff at participating libraries, archives and museums and specialist academic editorial board members. Feedback from focused conferences also played a large part in ensuring material is relevant and appropriate for students and scholars.

The resource tells the story of European maritime exploration from c.1420-1920 and focuses primarily on western European explorers: British, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch. We have endeavoured to cover their sea-faring voyages in search of ‘new lands’, trade routes, and the establishment of colonies and settlements whilst advancing their scientific knowledge over a five-hundred-year period.

These histories are presented through correspondence, diaries and journals, rare manuscript and printed books, scientific and government papers, ships’ logbooks, and charts and maps.

For more information on the collection, please see our Nature and Scope, Participating Libraries and Editorial Board pages.

A note on exclusions

Age of Exploration is a major resource covering a wide range of voyages, regions and nationalities. Although key topics are well-represented, the scale of the period and complexity of the discipline prevents the inclusion of every collection or piece of material that might be relevant.

A lengthy process of discussion between many different archives, libraries and museums across the globe has resulted in the twelve partner institutions that contribute to the resource. Where exclusions have been made, this has largely been due to:

  • Collections falling outside the defined remit of this resource
  • Existing open-access content
  • Copyright and permission considerations
  • Reasons of privacy and data protection