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Uncommon Sense

By oieahc · March 19, 2020

Researching and Teaching VastEarlyAmerica

#VastEarlyAmericadigital projectsGeorgian Papers Programmeteaching 8 min read

The following is a loosely (and necessarily imperfectly) organized set of online resources for researching and teaching about VastEarlyAmerica.

We invite you to add suggestions to the list by leaving your comments via the form below or by contacting directly.


Slavery Studies

A database of crowd-sourced information on fugitives from slavery, compiled by University of North Carolina Greensboro libraries.

A database that tracks the voyages of people stolen from Africa and then sold into slavery in America after they reach American shores, compiled by the Emory University Center for Digital Scholarship.

Project by Vincent Brown at Harvard on the revolt in Jamaica by enslaved people in 1760-1761.

Harvard University historian Vincent Brown discusses his new book, Tacky’s Revolt: The Story of an Atlantic Slave War at a February 2020 presentation for the Museum of the American Revolution’s Read the Revolution Speaker Series.

Native American History

Claudio Saunt’s multiple projects with the Center for Virtual History at the University of Georgia, including Invasion of America.

Claudio Saunt and Rebecca Onion’s interactive time-lapse map on the theft of Indian lands.

A central piece in the story of how the United States came to be is the seizure of native lands. Another of Saunt’s visualization projects, captured in this essay for @aeon, shows clearly how and when this happened.

Digital Paxton looks at the 1763 massacre of 20 Susquehannocks & the subsequent march of the “Paxton Boys” into Philly.

The Native Northeast Portal, a database of the Yale Indian Papers Project, digitized resources from New England collections in cooperation with scholars & researchers, including tribal members.

A number of projects by Max Edelson and the team at MapScholar have tracked the effects of the Seven Years War, colonial claims to Florida, and more.

Early History of the United States

Founders Online from the US National Archives and partners is a trove of over 182,000 searchable documents, absolutely vital for early histories of the United States.

The online collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society include parts of the Adams papers, materials related to the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment, an exhibit on the Boston Massacre and much, much more.

Colonial-Era Congregational Church records from New England.

A terrific web resource for documents and some of the most accurate transcriptions regarding the Salem witch trials.

The Colonial North America at Harvard Library online repository is an ongoing, multi-year project that intends to make available to the world approximately 650,000 digitized pages of all known archival and manuscript materials in the Harvard Library that relate to 17th-  and 18th- century North America. Almost half of the targeted number are already online.

Network Studies

The Mapping the Republic of Letters project at Stanford University hosts a series of projects including mapping the correspondence networks of Benjamin Franklin. 

How diverse was #VastEarlyAmerica? Maeve Kane’s analysis of early 18th century New York networks among Mohawk, Mahican, Dutch, English and Africans shows the history of individuals & family connections.

The Georgian Monarchs

A project near to our heart is the massive undertaking to digitize and post over 350,000 items in the Georgian archives at Windsor Castle. You can find scholarly essays as well as links to images of diaries, letters, receipt books, and more. 

Health & Disease

The smallpox epidemic of 1775-1782, analyzed in Elizabeth Fenn’s book Pox Americana is mapped here by Fenn and Claudio Saunt.


For mapping #VastEarlyAmerica digital collections of the Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library are a good place to start. The online repository includes links to significant partner collections.

Pacific Coast

How much do we know about #VastEarlyAmerica on the Pacific coast?  The Early California Cultural Atlas directed by Steve Hackel maps the migration of California native people, and settlers and soldiers from northern Mexico, before 1850.

The early California Population Project is a database of birth, marriage, and death records from all of the California missions, 1769-1850.


The Virginia Museum of History & Culture has put together a set of recorded lectures, virtual exhibits, and more for all to peruse on their website while they are closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Image Collections

The John Carter Brown Library has multiple online archives, including over 7,000 items in this database of Early American images, and more than 3,000 in the online map collection.

The Winterthur online collections include images of ceramics, glass, furniture, textiles, and dozens if not hundreds of other things from early Vast American life.

If you’re still searching for more images of things 18th century then also check out the University of Delaware’s ThingStor.

While the American Antiquarian Society has photographs of more than 9,000 pre-1800 New England gravestones.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and resources by commenting below.


We at the New-York Historical Society are creating a suite of resources to help teachers include more women in their teaching of these histories. See the Early Encounters unit, which includes colonies across the Americas, as well as the Settler Colonialism and the Revolution unit, which brings the story further forward in time and looks at yet more geographical areas.
Mia Nagawiecki  •  October 27, 2020
Thanks, Josh - just added to our growing online resource (Collections page):
Martha Howard  •  March 26, 2020
Thanks, Joseph - just added to our growing online resource (Collections page):
Martha Howard  •  March 26, 2020
Thanks, John -- just added to our growing online resource (Collections page):
Martha Howard  •  March 26, 2020
DINAA, the Digital Index of North American Archaeology - and the DINAA Linking Sites and Literature module -
Josh  •  March 21, 2020
Electronic New France, a gateway to various online content on French colonialism in Early Vast America:
Joseph Gagné  •  March 20, 2020
All 91 volumes of the publications of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts are available online without charge and are fully searchable.
John W Tyler  •  March 20, 2020

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