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American History & Jewish History Blog
Cook's Nile & Palestine Tours Poster, Shapell Manuscript Foundation
March 25, 2021

A Year Less Traveled

As we find ourselves already a year into reduced travel, it might be interesting (or tormenting) to have a look at some historic Thomas Cook travel posters from our Collection. In 1841, Thomas Cook, a cabinetmaker from Leicestershire, England, first started organizing excursions for people to attend temperance meetings by train. The eponymously named company’s excursions expanded from rail to sea, and eventually, to plane. The company also pioneered organized tourism to the Holy Land in the 1860s, as well as to Egypt. Many luminaries of the nineteenth century visited the Holy Land as a result of Cook’s work. Perhaps the most famous was Kaiser Wilhelm II.

The 178-year-old company, considered the world’s oldest travel firm, sadly collapsed in 2019. At the time of Thomas Cook’s dissolution, 150,000 Britons were on vacations organized by the company. The government, in coordination with the company, flew back all its citizens, making it the biggest peacetime repatriation in British history. Happily, Thomas Cook relaunched as an online travel agency this past December, ensuring their rich history will not soon be forgotten.

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