Although we have tried to be broadly inclusive in our selection of general sources on this topic, this listing is not comprehensive.
Some of the entries below include primary sources (digitized or transcribed) while others have both primary sources as well as other resources, particularly those that teach history. Some entries are likely to be places that would be good for research from this time period even though there may not be a large trove of digitized content available on-line.
Internet Sources | Map Collections
Issue 27: Spring 2017
The Colonies in America: Commerce, Business, and the Economy
Table of Contents
The Local Perspective
Trade & Mercantilism
Atlantic Slave Trade
Money, Prices, & Banking
Statistics & Data
Internet Sources & Map Collections
LC Subject Headings
Caption (image left):
Vuë de Boston. Prospect von Boston gegen der Bucht am Hasen Vuë de Boston vers le Cale du Port.
Habermann, Franz Xaver, 1721-1796.
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division
1492: An Ongoing Voyage (Library of Congress Exhibit)
This source includes online resources related to both pre- and post-contact America, as well as to the Mediterranean world at the same time.
Archives Portal Europe (APEnet Project)
This is a free web-based system where users can search across the holdings of 63 institutions with finding aids to archival material. These finding aids may include links to digitization versions of the materials at the institutions' own websites. As of 2017, the project's consortium consists of twelve national archives/national archive administrations and five associate members many of whom are national libraries such as the British Library. (To identify the members go to the Directory which also provides links to their web pages and/or other contact information).
Avalon Project (Yale University Law School)
This site includes transcripts related to American history and development. It includes Colonial Charters (by colony), grants, and other related documents. There is also an area related to American History beginning in the 15th century.
Leslie Brock Center for the Study of Colonial Currency
The site was created by Professor Emeritus Leslie V. Brock with the purpose to aid study of American Colonial currency. Contains transcription of Contemporary Writings, Pamphlets, and articles including the oft referenced Brock piece "Colonial Currency, Prices, and Exchange Rates."
Business History Centers
This is a collection of some of the libraries, universities, and organizations around the world that focus on the study of business history. Many have resources as well as offering a network of people who study the development of business around the world.
Company of London
This is an online project that presents some of Ferrar family papers in Magdalene College, Cambridge with some contents pulled from The Records of the Virginia Company of London (Washington, D.C., 1906-35) which the Library holds. Contents include digitized copies of manuscripts and other printed material. There are also digitized images of paintings and maps as well as a number of explanatory essays that will be of assistance to researchers.
The site includes links as well as transcripts of primary documents that are relevant for those studying the U.S. Constitution and the formation of American politics, culture, and ideals but it does include material from the Colonial period.
This is a project created by a group that includes the National Endowment of the Humanities, the National Park Service, The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and others. History is presented by historical era including pre-Colonial and Colonial time periods. Each section has an overview as well as a "textbook," documents, events, people, images etc. This is geared towards students and teachers so there is a resource section for teachers as well as a quiz.
The website is owned and operated by the Economic History Association with the support of other sponsoring organizations like the Business History Conference. The Encyclopedia entries include articles like: "Money in the American Colonies," "Colonial U.S. Credit," "Credit in the Colonial American Economy," "Dutch Economy in the "Golden Age" (16th-17th Centuries), "Mercantilism" and other topics related to the economic history of the United States. The bibliographies for the articles and reviews can be helpful in finding major works and articles on the topics.
This is a project of the Claremont Institute and leans heavily on material related to the founding of the United States. They are transcriptions of British documents including: excerpts from the Navigation Acts, 1660-1696; the Currency Act, 1764; the Sugar Act, 1764; the Quartering Act, 1765; the Stamp Act, 1765; Examination of Dr. Benjamin Franklin in the House of Commons, 1766; The Declaratory Act, 1766; The Townshend Act, 1767; and other acts until 1775.
Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is a nonprofit organization devoted to the improvement of history education. They have developed an array of programs for schools, teachers, and students. The site includes a number of primary sources as well as information and essays about history presented by era including Colonization & Settlement (1585-1763) and the American Revolution (1763-1783).
Access to some of these resources and some tools may require users to create an account.
Global Price & Income History Group
This site is hosted by the Institute of Governmental Affairs (UC Davis) and looks at prices, income, and economic well-being prior to 1950. While a large number of the data sets that are included are outside of the time period of this guide, the area American Incomes ca 1650-1870 is particularly useful. There is also a lot of useful data for this time period in the Global Prices and Income database.
The Hakluyt Society was founded in 1846 to educate and inform those interested in the study of exploration and travel, exploratory voyages, and geographical discovery. It seeks to publish primary records of voyages, travels and other geographical material. Helpful sections include the Hakluyt's Navigations (census of copies) and Exploration Links.
Historic New Orleans Collection
This collection is dedicated to preserving the history and culture of New Orleans and the Gulf South and is a good resource for those studying the French colonial activities in North America. The majority of its collection is not online although they do have digital items of interest.
Internet Library of Early Journals (eLib [Electronic Libraries] Programme)
This is a joint project by the Universities of Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, and Oxford and aimed to digitize substantial runs of 18th and 19th century journals. It includes titles like the Annual Register started in 1758, Gentleman's Magazine started in 1731, and other material.
Louisiana Digital Library (Louisiana State Library)
The State Library is a good resource for those looking to study the French colonial activities in North America. The majority of its collection is not online though they do have a fair amount of digital items that may be of interest a good entry point is the Louisiana Digital Library.
Louisiana State University – Special Collections
The university's special collections are a good resource for those looking to study French Colonial activities in North America. There are papers from the state as well as a Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections. The majority of its collection is not online though they do have a fair amount of digital items that may be of interest.
National Archives of the UK
The National Archives of the UK contains primary sources related to its activities in the colonies including material from various British government departments. There are a few related finding aids that may be of assistance in understanding the more relevant records though material may also be in other record groups.
New Bedford Whaling Museum
This museum focuses on understanding whaling in the New Bedford area. There is a Research Library and Archival Collections with books, manuscripts, maps, etc. Their manuscript collection includes: Rotch Family Papers, 1764-1947; Bennett Family Papers, 1765-1908; Taber Family Papers, 1712-1901; White Family Papers, 1746-1916; Business Records Collection, 1712-1946; etc.
Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture
The institute is located at the College of William and Mary and is responsible for publishing William & Mary Quarterly as well as books. They have a "Doing History" podcast series that covers topics about early American history and how historians work. The Octo is their blog where they bring together "the best online work discussing early American history and culture" with links to a series of blogs including The Junto and Adverts250 which is an "Exploration of Advertising in Colonial America 250 Years Ago This Week" as well as others (see the Octo Archive).
State and Local Historical Societies, Archives, and Libraries
Historical societies, archives, and libraries are excellent resources for getting a very local perspective on the Colonial time period – particularly for those towns and areas were established long before the Revolution. Many have local histories, artifacts, and manuscript collections that aren't available anywhere else. While we have put in a few historical societies and archive collections specifically as stand-ins for French colonial activities, we couldn't include every state and every local historical society that may have useful collections. This is a list of many of those historical societies.
Voyages, the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database (Emory University)
This website is an online database full of information on almost 35,000 slaving expeditions covering the 16th - 19th Centuries and provides information about vessels, enslaved peoples, slave traders and owners, and trading routes.
An Annotated Bibliography to accompany History of the American Economy by Gary Walton and Hugh Rockoff
This is an annotated bibliography with basic sources of quantitative data and the bibliographies of each chapter.
Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States (University of Richmond)
This includes many maps beginning in 1492. Maps are grouped along themes – Indians, population, exploration, cartography, military history, boundaries, foreign commerce, etc.
This is a project created by a group of partners including the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Park Service, The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History , and others. The maps on this site come from multiple sources.
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress contains a wealth of information for those researching American Colonial history. Although the Library has prioritized digitization of its maps, what is digitized represents only a fraction of the Library's holdings. There are several collections of digitized maps including American Revolution and Its Era: Maps and Charts of North America and the West Indies (1750-1789), Discovery and Exploration, and Louisiana: European Explorations and the Louisiana Purchase.
Norman B. Leventhal Map Center (Boston Public Library)
This site is dedicated to the creative and educational use of its cartographic holdings. Their collection begins in the 15th century and continues on to the present and contains a number of maps from the European Age of Discoveries and Colonial New England and Colonial Boston.
Rare Map Collection - Colonial America (University of Georgia)
Includes digitized version of maps of Colonial America.
Last updated: 02/20/2018