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U.S. History: Beginnings to 1877 - HIST201 - Primary Sources

Primary sources available in the library or on the Internet relevant to U.S. History before 1877.

Resources in Library Catalog

eBooks on this list are only available to RVCC students, faculty, and staff and require a login with your G# and password.

Exploration and historical accounts of locations

Adventure in the wilderness; the American journals of Louis Antoine de Bougainville, 1756-1760

Bougainville was a thoughtful participant/observer of the woodland struggles that shaped the imperial and cultural destinies of the early North American frontier. They provide us with early american history that is not told from an Anglo-american perspective.

A description of Louisiana

A Description of Louisiana is one of the principal sources of information about the explorations of the Sieur de La Salle in the area of the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River Valley, 1678-1680. Despite allowances which must be made for the vanity of the author and for his distortions of the truth, his account nevertheless possesses great value.

The discovery of New Brittaine

Written in 1651, this book relates the explorations achieved by the authors from Virginia to what is now North Carolina. The account illustrates how colonial expansion was carried forward from established bases and the manner in which explorers sometimes attempted to profit from their discoveries.

Discoverie of the north part of Virginia

Printed in London in 1602, this is the first English description of New England and reports the first attempt at its settlement. The author, John Brereton, or Brierton, was a Cambridge-educated minister. This volume reproduces the second impression of the Relation, in which a treatise by Captain Edward Hayes and supplementary memoranda by Richard Hakluyt the elder were added.

The discoveries of John Lederer

First written account of explorations to the Piedmont and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Original title page reads: The discoveries of John Lederer, in three several marches from Virginia, to the west of Carolina; and other parts of the continent: begun in March 1669, and ended in September 1670. Together with a general map of the whole territory which he traversed. Collected and translated out of Latine from his discourse and writings by Sir William Talbot baronet, London, Printed by J.C. for Samuel Heyrick,1672.

Encounters in the New World : a history in documents

A collection of documents illustrating encounters between Native American peoples and a variety of European newcomers from the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries. Includes maps, journals, advertisements, and letters.

General history of Connecticut, from its first settlement under George Fenwick to its latest period of amity with Great Britain prior to the Revolution

Original title page continues: "Including a description of the country, and many curious and interesting anecdotes. With an appendix, pointing out the causes of the rebellion in America; together with the particular part taken by the people of Connecticut in its promotion."

The generall historie of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles

Printed in London in 1624, it is the first publication to claim specifically to be a history of English territory in the New World.

Journals of Major Robert Rogers

Robert Rogers was an American colonial frontiersman. Rogers served in the British army during both the French and Indian War and the American Revolution. This is a reprint of the work originally published in 1765, and the entries cover the period from September 1755-February 1761.

Journal of a voyage to North America

Charlevoix (1682–1761) was a French Jesuit priest, traveler, and historian. The journal contains geographical descriptions of North America, particularly Canada; together with an account of the customs, characters, religion, manners and traditions of the original inhabitants in a series of letters to the Duchess of Lesdiguières.

Journall of the English plantation at Plimoth

Printed in 1622, this was the first published account of the voyage of the Pilgrims to New England and of their settlement at Plymouth. Although the general outline of the story is a familiar one to Americans, it has become encrusted through the years with successive layers of legend and myth. Here, then, is the history of the Pilgrim landing told by those who were present.

The last voyage perform'd by de la Sale

Translation of a journal kept by Joutel, who traveled with René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle during his last North American expedition in the late 17th century.

A new voyage to Carolina

John Larson came to America after having been advised by a chance acquaintance that "Carolina was the best County I could go to." Within a few months of his arrival at Charleston in 1700 he began his explorations with a small party of white men and Indians. His account is one of the most valuable and certainly one of the most entertaining contemporary descriptions of the Carolina country. This book was published in 1709.

The Old Dominion in the seventeenth century : a documentary history of Virginia, 1606-1689

This book is a convenient collection of seventeenth-century Virginia documentary source material. Using the observations, descriptions, and legal documents of the colonists themselves, this book makes it possible to reconstruct the process by which order was established in the wilderness during Virginia's first century.

Thomas Harriot's Virginia

The first account of the first English colony in America was written by one of the colonists.

Travels & adventures in Canada and the Indian territories; between the years 1760 and 1776

Journal kept by one of the leading pioneers of the British-Canadian fur trade following the British Conquest of New France; a partner in the North West Company, and a founding member and vice-chairman of the Beaver Club. In 1763–64, he lived and hunted with Wawatam of the Ojibwa.

Travels in Pensilvania and Canada

Reprint. Originally published under title: "Observations on the inhabitants, climate, soil, rivers, productions, animals, and other matters worthy of notice. Made by Mr. John Bartram, in his travels from Pensilvania to Onondago, Oswego and the Lake Ontario, in Canada to which is annex'd a curious account of the cataracts at Niagara, by Mr. Peter Kalm. London, 1751."

Virginia richly valued

Printed in 1609, this is the first description in English of the continental interior of the southern and gulf states and of the discovery of the Mississippi River.

Voyages of Marquette in the jesuit relations

Marquette was a French Jesuit missionary who founded Michigan's first European settlement, Sault Ste. Marie, and later founded St. Ignace, Michigan. In 1673 Father Marquette and Louis Jolliet were the first Europeans to explore and map the northern portion of the Mississippi River Valley.

Other social, political, or historical documents

America before the revolution, 1725-1775

This collection of excerpts from contemporary diaries, journals, letters, news accounts and official documents creates a composite self-portrait of colonial America.

The Colonial era

Presents hundreds of documents from North America's colonial era--from letters and diary entries to newspaper articles and speeches--covering 1607 to 1776, and provides chapter introductions, chronologies, biographies, maps, and a glossary.

The correspondence of the colonial governors of Rhode Island, 1723-1775

The manuscript correspondence of the governors of Rhode Island, from which these documents are copied, is preserved in a series of twenty-eight folio volumes, in the archive-room of the state. They cover the years from 1729 to 1839, and contain a mass of the most varied information, of widely differing degrees of value...The aim of these volumes is to present all the available material in this series which lies between 1729 and 1775, and which has not heretofore been printed.

Debating the issues in colonial newspapers : primary documents on events of the period

For every major event or issue of the colonial period, newspapers printed the opinions of the day, in many cases attempting to influence public opinion. Issues such as medical discoveries, education, and censorship are covered in this collection along with important events such as the French and Indian War, the trial of John Peter Zenger, and the Boston Massacre. Each chapter introduces the event or issue and includes news articles, letters, essays, even poetry representing both sides of the argument as they affected Americans (eBook).

Deputyes & libertyes; the origins of representative government in colonial America

Following an introductory chapter, this book contains documents pertaining to representative government in the American colonies from between the years 1604 to 1776.

The great American gentleman: William Byrd of Westover in Virginia, his secret diary for the years 1709-1712

The biography of William Byrd reveals the life of a great gentleman in early America and a rich slice of what the country was really like in the early 1700's.

Hypocrisie unmasked; a true relation of the proceedings of the Governor and company of the Massachusetts against Samuel Gorton of Rhode Island

Original title page continues "a notorious disturber of the peace and quiet of the severall governments wherein he lived: with the grounds and reasons thereof, examined and allowed by their Generall Court holden in Boston in New-England in November last, 1646. Together with a particular answer to the manifold slanders, and abominable falsehoods which are contained in a book written by the said Gorton..."

Interpreting a continent : voices from colonial America

This reader provides students with key documents from colonial American history, including new English translations of non-English documents. The documents in this collection take the reader beyond the traditional story of the English colonies. Readers explore the Spanish, French, Dutch, Russian, German, and even Icelandic colonial efforts throughout North America, including California, New Mexico, Texas, the Great Plains, Louisiana, Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New England. Throughout, the collection provides not only the perspectives of Europeans but also of Native Americans and Africans (eBook).

A journal of the proceedings in Georgia

The journal of one of the English-born leaders of colonial Georgia. He settled disputes among the colonists and served as secretary of the Board of Trustees of the Province of Georgia with the founder of the colony, James Oglethorpe. He compiled this journal in 1737 and it was published in 1742.

New world, known world : shaping knowledge in early Anglo-American writing

Examines the works of four writers from the early period of English colonization: John Smith's Generall Historie of Virginia, William Bradford's Of Plymouth Plantation, Thomas Morton's New English Canaan, and Roger Williams's A Key into the Language of America (in conjunction with The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution). Contains both secondary and primary source information (eBook).

One colonial woman's world : the life and writings of Mehetabel Chandler Coit

This book reconstructs the life of Mehetabel Chandler Coit (1673-1758), the author of what may be the earliest surviving diary by an American woman.

The redeemed captive returning to Zion

Williams was a Puritan minister in Deerfield, Massachusetts during King William's and Queen Anne's Wars. When Deerfield was attacked he and his family were taken captive by the Indians and imprisoned in Canada.

The road to independence : a documentary history of the causes of the American Revolution: 1763-1776

This volume contains documents on topics like the Townshend Acts and Boston Tea Party.

The way of improvement leads home : Philip Vickers Fithian and the rural Enlightenment in early America

This book traces the short but fascinating life of Philip Vickers Fithian. Born to Presbyterian grain-growers in rural New Jersey, he was never quite satisfied with the agricultural life he seemed destined to inherit. He is best known for the diary that he wrote in 1773-74 while working as a tutor at Nomini Hall.

Resources in Library Databases

Off campus, these resources are available only to RVCC students, staff, and faculty and require a login with your G# and password.

Perform a keyword search, then select Primary Sources from the tabbed results.

Primary sources

To browse, select Primary Sources and then The Colonial Era: Beginnings-1776


Primary Sources       

Perform a keyword search, then select Primary Sources from the tabbed results.

Primary sources

To browse, select Primary Sources and then Native Societies, First Contact, and the Colonial Era: Beginnings–1775

Primary Sources       Native Societies, First Contact, and the Colonial Era: Beginnings–1775

Resources on the Internet