Jerusalem from the mount Scopus by J.D. Woodward, Picturesque Palestine, Sinai, and Egypt.

Dreamland: American Travelers to the Holy Land in the 19th Century

The National Library of Israel, Jerusalem, Israel

December 2010 - March 2013


1. Explorers

2. Twain, Melville, and Other Writers

3. Holy Land Travel

4. Souvenirs

5. Guest Rooms

6. Famous Visitors

7. Women, Children, and Missionaries

8. Appendix

The image of the Holy Land in 19th-century America derived from religious and cultural sentiment, encouraged by several key groups: missionaries and tourists, archaeologists and Bible scholars, settlers and consular officers. Each had different motives for going to Palestine and were influenced by the interests of Western nations and improvements in transportation and accessibility. From these visits emerged an interest in the Holy Land that has influenced American politics to the present day. 

This is the first exhibit in a series on the American presence in the Holy Land. The year 2010 coincides with the centennial of the death of Mark Twain, who traveled to the Holy Land in 1867 and recorded his observations in The Innocents Abroad (1869). Twain’s writing had a great impact on American perceptions of the Holy Land and the developing new age of travel in the Near East.