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Golden Age of Piracy: A Resource Guide

Compiled by Mark F. Hall, Digital Reference Specialist

Engraving of Blackbeard the Pirate holding a sword
Blackbeard the pirate. 1 print : engraving, 1725.
Prints & Photographs Division.
Reproduction Number:
LC-USZ62-62069 (b&w film copy neg.)
Illus. in F2161 .D4 1725 [Rare Book RR]

The Golden Age of Piracy spanned the period from approximately 1650 to 1726. During this period, bands of pirates menaced commercial (and sometimes even military) shipping in the Caribbean, along the North American eastern seaboard, the West African coast, and the Indian Ocean. The characters from the Golden Age of Piracy and their exploits form the basis of the modern conception of pirates as depicted in popular culture. The Library of Congress collections contain a wide variety of materials, both primary and secondary, for the study of this period. This guide lists many of these materials, particularly those that are available online, either through the Library's website, or beyond.


Library of Congress Web Site | External Web Sites | Selected Bibliography

Digital Collections

The Capital and the Bay: Narratives of Washington and the Chesapeake Bay Region

This collection comprises 139 books selected from the Library of Congress's General Collections and two books from its Rare Book and Special Collections Division. It includes first-person narratives, early histories, historical biographies, promotional brochures, and books of photographs.

The official letters of Alexander Spotswood, Lieutenant-Governor of the colony of Virginia, 1710-1722 contain a number of references to pirates, particularly to Blackbeard, who was brought to justice under Spotswood's orders.

Map Collections

The focus of Map Collections is Americana and Cartographic Treasures of the Library of Congress. These images were created from maps and atlases selected from the collections of the Geography and Map Division.


In Custodia Legis, September 18, 2015

Check Out Our Pirattitude. Legal scholars can investigate the latest additions to our hoard, and many earlier piracy law titles as well, the next time they visit the Law Library.

Library of Congress Blog, September 19, 2013

A Pirate’s Life For Me. Links to selected items form the Library's collection in honor of International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

In the Muse, September 19, 2011

Arrr, it’s the Sheet Music of the Week Pirate Edition, Matey! Selected items from the Performing Arts collections.


Exploring the Early Americas

Exploring the Early Americas features selections from the more than 3,000 rare maps, documents, paintings, prints, and artifacts that make up the Jay I. Kislak Collection at the Library of Congress. Among these is an early printing of The Buccaneers of America.

Law Library

Piracy Trials

The Law Library of Congress has digitized its collection of pre-1923 piracy trial. This historical collection of piracy trials is critical for understanding how the various nations of the world handled piracy issues before the year 1900. The full texts of these titles are available online.

Prints & Photographs Division

Prints & Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC)

Search PPOC using "pirates" or the names of individual pirates to find additional prints and other digital images related to the Golden Age of Piracy. Some highlights:

Rare Book and Special Collections Division

By the King, a proclamation for the more effectual reducing and suppressing of pirates and privateers in America.

A proclamation for the more effectual reducing and suppressing of pirates and privateers in America. London, 1688.


Kislak Pirates Symposium

An all-day symposium, "Pirates and Corsairs of the Americas in History and Literature," was sponsored by the Rare Book and Special Collections Division and the Hispanic Division in conjunction with the "Exploring the Early Americas" exhibition. Webcasts of the presentations are available on our site.

Wise Guide

March 2007

A digital magazine designed to introduce users to the many fascinating, educational, and useful resources available on the Library's Web site. The June 2010 Wise Guide includes an article on Pirates or Privateers? that features items from the Library's collections.

External Web Sites

Golden Age of Piracy External Link

Online exhibit from the Royal Museums Greenwich.

The Last Days of Blackbeard External Link

An in-depth article from Smithsonian Magazine.

Pirates in the Atlantic World External Link

Pirates cruised the Caribbean Sea and the North American coast searching for likely targets. At the height of Atlantic world piracy around 1720, some 2,000 pirates were attacking ships and threatening trade. This site from the Smithsonian Museum of American History profiles some of the pirates and shows artifacts.

Pirates on the Chesapeake Bay External Link

Pirates and privateers (thieves who had the blessings of their home countries) were major players in Chesapeake Bay history. For nearly 200 years, pirates roamed the Bay’s waters looking for prey and outfitting themselves to search for prizes in other parts of the world.

Selected Bibliography

Primary Sources

Dampier, William. Dampier's Voyages; New York, E. P. Dutton & co. 1906.
[Catalog Record] [Full Text] External Link

Defoe, Daniel, ed. Madagascar; or, Robert Drury's journal, during fifteen years captivity on that island. London, Printed and sold by W. Meadows, 1729. [Catalog Record] [Full Text] External Link

Exquemelin, A. O. (Alexandre Olivier). The buccaneers and marooners of America; being an account of the famous adventures and daring deeds of certain notorious freebooters of the Spanish Main; ed. by Howard Pyle. London, T.F. Unwin, 1897.[Catalog Record] [Full Text] External Link

Johnson, Charles. A general history of the pyrates: from their first rise and settlement in the Island of Providence, to the present time. London : Printed for, and sold by T. Warner, at the Black-Boy in Pater-Noster-Row, 1724. [Catalog Record] [Full Text] External Link

The Pirates own book. Portland, Me., F. Blake, 1856. [Catalog Record] [Full Text] External Link

Rogers, Woodes. A cruising voyage round the world: first to the South-seas, thence to the East-Indies, and homewards by the cape of Good Hope. Begun in 1708, and finish'd in 1711 ...London, Printed for A. Bell and B. Lintot, 1712. [Catalog Record] [Full Text] External Link

Secondary Sources

Cordingly, David. Pirate hunter of the Caribbean : the adventurous life of Captain Woodes Rogers. New York : Random House, c2011. [Catalog Record]

Cordingly, David. Under the Black Flag. New York : Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2006. [Catalog Record]

Dow, George Francis. The pirates of the New England coast, 1630-1730. Salem, Mass., Marine research society, 1923. [Catalog Record] [Full Text] External Link

Duffus, Kevin. The last days of black beard the pirate : within every legend lies a grain of truth. Raleigh, NC : Looking Glass Productions, Inc., 2014. [Catalog Record]

Konstam, Angus. Blackbeard's last fight : pirate hunting in North Carolina 1718. Botley, Oxford : Osprey Publishing, 2013. [Catalog Record]

Konstam, Angus. Piracy : the complete history. Oxford ; New York : Osprey Pub., 2008. [Catalog Record]

Woodard, Colin. The republic of pirates : being the true and surprising story of the Caribbean pirates and the man who brought them down. Orlando : Harcourt, c2007. [Catalog Record]

Popular Literature

Barrie, J.M. Peter and Wendy [i.e. Peter Pan]. New York : Charles Scribner's Sons, 1911. [Catalog Record] [Full Text] External Link

Defoe, Daniel. The life and strange surprizing adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, mariner: who lived eight and twenty years all alone in an un-inhabited island on the coast of America, near the mouth of the great river of Oroonoque; having been cast on shore by shipwreck, wherein all the men perished but himself. London, W. Taylor, 1719. [Catalog Record] [Full Text] External Link

Pyle, Howard. Howard Pyle's Book of pirates; fiction, fact & fancy concerning the buccaneers & marooners of the Spanish Main: from the writing & pictures of Howard Pyle: comp. by Merle Johnson. New York, London, Harper & Brothers, 1921. [Catalog Record] [Full Text] External Link

Pyle, Howard. The Rose of Paradise : being a detailed account of certain adventures that happened to Captain John Mackra, in connection with the famous pirate, Edward England, in the year 1720, off the island of Juanna in the Mozambique Channel. New York : Harper, 1888.[Catalog Record] [Full Text] External Link

Sabatini, Rafael. Captain Blood, his Odyssey. Boston and New York, Houghton Mifflin company, 1922. [Catalog Record] [Full Text] External Link

Scott, Walter. The Pirate. Edinburgh, A. and C. Black, 1863. [Catalog Record] [Full Text] External Link

Stevenson, Robert Louis. Treasure Island. New York, G. Munro [1886] [Catalog Record] [Full Text] External Link


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  February 15, 2017
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