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Early American History: Primary Source Collections
Guide to resources for Early American history research- Originally created for Dr. Shannon Duffy's history classes
The Massachusetts Historical Society presents the complete four volume set of Revolutionary-era Boston newspapers and pamphlets collected, annotated, and indexed by Harbottle Dorr, Jr., a shopkeeper in Boston.
The Record of Fugitives in its entirety consists of two notebooks and several pages of addenda.
These materials are presented on this website in three different view formats. Using the navigational options to the left, researchers can examine individual pages of the record, with each image accompanied by its transcribed text. To read the record in this way, click on "Book 1" to get started. It is also possible to view and download the entire document in either an image (facsimile) or textual (transcription) version.
The New Netherland Research Center is making available digitized versions of translations and transcriptions of documents relating to New Netherland. Written in an archaic hand, these seventeenth-century documents were damaged by fire and water, but they are our best source of knowledge about the former Dutch colony. Available on this website are government records held by the New York State Archives, private and corporate papers from the collections of the New York State Library, and selected documents from other repositories. Scanned originals of many of these documents are available on the websites of the New York State Archives and New York State Library.
Scroll down the page for finding aids to this rich collection.
Specialized collection within Hathi Trust Records of the American Colonies Published documents--legislation, court proceedings, records, correspondence, etc.--from the 13 original colonies and their predecessors.
The Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive and Transcription Project consists of an electronic collection of primary source materials relating to the Salem witch trials of 1692 and a new transcription of the court records. From University of Virginia
The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database has information on almost 36,000 slaving voyages that forcibly embarked over 10 million Africans for transport to the Americas between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries.
The newspapers and news pamphlets gathered by the Reverend Charles Burney (1757 - 1817) represent the largest single collection of 17th and 18th century English news media. The 700 or so bound volumes of newspapers and news pamphlets were published mostly in London, however there are also some English provincial, Irish and Scottish papers, and a few examples from the American colonies, Europe and India.
Coverage: 17th and 18th centuries
Primary source newspaper content from the 19th century, featuring full-text content and images from numerous newspapers from a range of urban and rural regions throughout the U.S. With an emphasis on such topics as the American Civil War, African-American culture and history, Western migration and Antebellum-era life.
Coverage: 19th century
Social Sciences, History, Literature & Language, and The Arts. American magazines and journals published from colonial days to the dawn of the 20th century. Titles range from Benjamin Franklin's General Magazine and America's first scientific journal, Medical Repository; popular magazines such as Vanity Fair and Ladies' Home Journal; regional and niche publications; and groundbreaking journals like The Dial, Puck, and McClure's.
Literature, philosophy, history, science, the fine arts and the social sciences. British Periodicals Collection I consists of more than 160 journals that comprise the UMI microfilm collection Early British Periodicals, the equivalent of 5,238 printed volumes containing approximately 3.1 million pages.
Contains virtually every book, pamphlet, and broadside published in the American colonies or the United States between 1639 and 1819. Among the vast range of publications included are: advertisements, almanacs, bibles, catalogs, charters and by-laws, contracts, cookbooks, elegies, eulogies, laws, maps, narratives, novels, operas, plays, poems, primers, sermons, songs, speeches, textbooks, tracts, travelogues, and treaties. Based upon records for Charles Evans American Bibliography and Ralph Shaw and Richard Shoemaker's American Bibliography.
American History. This collection is officially named Early American newspapers Series I, 1690-1876. Explore essential newspapers from 23 states and the District of Columbia from the 17th century. There are 350,000 fully searchable issues from over 710 historical American newspapers. This online collection is based on Clarence S. Brigham’s “History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690-1820.” Click here for title list.
Contains every significant English-language and foreign-language title printed in Great Britain during the 18th century, along with thousands of important works from the Americas. Subject areas include history, geography, social sciences, fine arts, literature, language, religion, philosophy, law, medicine, science, and technology.
Contains more than 32,000 entries and is a comprehensive guide to printed records about the Americas written in Europe before 1750. It covers the history of European exploration as well as portrayals of Native American peoples. A wide range of subject areas are covered; from natural disasters to disease outbreaks and slavery.
Correspondence of and between America's founding fathers. Read and search through thousands of records from George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison debating the Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence.
This database combines content from Thomson Gale's 19th Century UK Periodicals; 19th Century US Newspapers; Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO); The Making of the Modern World :The Goldsmiths’-Kress Library of Economic Literature, 1450-1850; 17th and 18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers; Archives Unbound; Times Digital Archive; Illustrated London News Historical Archive; Sunday Times Digital Archive; American Civil Liberties Union Papers, 1912-1990; Archives of Sexuality & Gender; Associated Press Collections; British Library Newspapers; Sabin Americana, 1500-1926.
Coverage: 15th - 21st centuries
Hispanic history, culture and daily life. This is the single largest compilation of Spanish-language newspapers printed in the U.S. during the 19th and 20th centuries. The distinctive collection features hundreds of Hispanic American newspapers, including many long scattered and forgotten titles published in the 19th century. It is based on the “Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Project.” Early American Newspapers Series 1, 1690-1876 and The Historical Dallas Morning News, 1885-1984 can also be accessed from this site.
Based on Joseph Sabin's famed bibliography, Bibliotheca Americana – A Dictionary of Books Relating to America From its Discovery to the Present Time, Sabin Americana, 1500–1926 is an online collection of books, pamphlets, serials and other works about the Americas, from the time of their discovery to the early 1900s. It provides primary source material critical to the understanding of the society, politics, religious beliefs, literature, customs and momentous events of the times.
The Serial Set includes reports and documents either produced or ordered by Congress, as well as presidential communications and treaty materials. It is a broken into parts (collections). Collection 1 begins in 1789 with the American State Papers and provides comprehensive, full-text access to Congressional and Executive branch documents and reports published in the U.S. Congressional Serial Set through 1969. Collection II provides coverage from 1970 to present. Collection II also contains Senate and Executive Documents and Reports 1817-1978.
This digital archive documents the revolution and war that created the United States of America. The collection examines the political, social, and intellectual upheaval of the age, as well as the actual war, and focuses on a diversity of issues through a wealth of original documentary material; allowing the reader to examine economics and international relations, contemporary religion and science, and the strategies and battlefield realities of combatants on both sides of the conflict. The experiences of commanders and common soldiers, women and slaves, Indians and Loyalists are all recorded in this collection, providing a richer sense of the causes and consequences of one of the great turning points in human history.
Readex Databases & Search Tips
Readex Corporation produces Both Early American Imprints and Early American Newspapers Databases (links listed at left) The databases contain primary source materials focused on Early America. Readex has developed a search engine to search across their several databases, including the Early American titles.
You may prefer this to searching their individual databases so, here's the link-