Talking Travel Multimedia Paula Humfrey The Joseph Camp Story


Heritage Traveling

Whether we refer to it as vicarious traveling, armchair traveling, or even time traveling, some of the most interesting and engaging travel we do is through the mind's eye and the direct-to-source reports of those who have “gone there” long before us.

Heritage Travel is also a kind of travel that more and more people are discovering. And often such travel follows the personal paths and experiences of individuals who through their personal journals have preserved for us an historical and geographic framework that adds a unique dimension to our own travel experiences.

Despite the relentless passage of time, we can share perceptions of a destination with an individual who saw, heard, and felt what “it” was really like — all those years ago.


The Joseph Camp Story:
In Search of a Mythical Eden in the American West

In this multimedia presentation, Paula Humfrey demonstrates why the cultural and historic legacies of America have a direct effect on how and why we travel, and also how we perceive “the destination.”

In this paper, she travels with Joseph Camp by way of his private journals and we see why such journals are in themselves primary resource documents, but also authentic travel stories in their own right. In the excerpts that Paula reads from Camp's journals, we are able to hear his “voice” on both a physical and conceptual level. We hear and therefore identify with “the raw difficulty of frontier life” on the Great Plains.

And Paula takes us even deeper into Joseph Camp's story. Through her “reporting” and scholarly interpretation of the man, his journals, and the times, she allows us to expand our cultural perceptions. Her thesis is an intriguing one; that the American West was “sold” to small farmers in England in the same way that other Edenic myths with their pastoral traditions inculcate what Paula refers to as “a folklore of hope.”

This selling of the West was in fact a deliberate plan, a safety valve to English society in which migrants were “released” from overcrowded Britain. And as the journey unfolds, we see how agribusiness crossed the Atlantic and, supported and perpetuated by Anglo-American cultural and economic institutions, became a travel industry in the New World.

A case can be made that all travel is an encounter with history, and it is clear from this paper that the thesis is in the place.

Listen to and watch

The Joseph Camp Story:
In Search of a Mythical Eden in the American West


(Please note. You will need to have Apple Quicktime installed on your computer for this presentation to work.)

Paula Humfrey is an adjunct professor at Eastern Oregon University, Southern New Hampshire University, Laurentian University, and Lakeland College. She can be reached at

An admirer of the writings of Eckhart Tolle, Paula also pointed out recently the following:

Tolle argues that people are often more fully present and in “the now” (and so able to access the power of consciousness) when they travel. He says, “People feel more alive when they travel and visit unfamiliar places or foreign countries because at those times sense perception — experiencing — takes up more of their consciousness than thinking.”

For Tolle the true power of consciousness — its wellspring — is pre-cognitive because consciousness is so much more vast than cogitation makes it seem. We literally create reality in the moment before we start constructing intellectual opinions about it.

Following Joseph Camp's Western Journey

The following links will provide more information on some of the places Camp visited.

Newington, Connecticut

Niagara Falls


Starved Rock, Illinois

Omaha, Nebraska

Iowa City

Council Bluffs, Iowa

The Great Plains: America's Steppes

Hannibel, Missouri

Archival Traveling

The images in Paula's paper are examples of the kinds of treasures to be found in national, regional, and local archives. And many travel journalists will recommend that when covering a destination, a visit to that most community-oriented of all archives — the public library — is not to be missed.

And here are two important national archives:

The United States National Archives

The above provides a fascinating virtual visit to national historic documents such as the Declaration of Independance, Edison's Light Bulb Patent, and the Abolition of Slavery. Be sure to also follow the Google link to historic films and videos such as the Landing on the Moon.

The National Archives of Canada

This resource also contains unique features such as the Portrait Gallery. (The black and white image of Diana Krall is a thing of beauty.) Many will find the Shipwreck Investigations interesting.

The Joseph Camp Story: In Search of a Mythical Eden in the American West is a production of Desmond Grundy.