Date of Completion


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Ann Holder

Second Advisor

Judith Smith


This project analyzes a selection of representative guidebooks produced between 1848 and 1910, to illustrate the development of a tourist industry in Boston and to indicate how the changing nature of the city influenced a similar change in the tourist experience. It also provides the necessary context in which to place this narrative. Part I introduces two key elements essential to understanding the relevance of urban tourism in Boston: the city’s experiences with the national phenomena of electrification and urban planning in the mid- to late-nineteenth century, and Boston’s distinctive role in nineteenth-century America’s developing national identity and history. In Part II, an interpretation of Boston guidebooks during this time period can be seen as providing a unique way of viewing Boston’s history—the writers of these guidebooks are presenting their city as they knew it to us, visitors not from another place, but from another time. They tell us what they think is important to know about Boston, and their words highlight the pride they took in their city as well as hint at underlying social tensions and changes in progress. Readers of this project, then, can experience Boston of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as tourists themselves, and thus gain a better awareness of how that experience is essential to understanding urban tourism’s importance in the history of the American city.



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