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HIST 333 - British in America

Research resources with a focus on primary documents regarding the British from Columbus to Colonial America (1497-1775.)

Welcome to History research!

General Laws of Massachusets Colony

The General Laws and Liberties of the Massachusets [sic] Colony, by Order of the General Court, Holden at Boston, May 15th, 1672, Edward Rawson, Secr. Cambridge: Samuel Green, 1672. Law Library, Library of Congress (023).


Welcome to your History 333 course guide on the British in early America! Your professor has provided a list of topic areas to help you in selecting a research area, but many questions and challenges can pop up as you work. This guide will help you and of course your professor and your librarian (me) are here to help.

No guide can include every possible resource you need for your specific topic, so do not hesitate to reach out for help from us. You see my contact information to the right with email and chat options. If you have a complex question or need to search multiple resources, I will set up an appointment via Zoom. 

The various links on the left side of this page provide information on books, ebooks, journal articles, primary sources and more for successful research. 

We may be doing everything remotely but that should not stop you from finding the primary and secondary sources essential to a good project.

Key Concepts that apply to all history research:

  • Use appropriate terminology (World War I was the "Great War" at the time since we didn't know there would be a second world war.)
  • Ethnic and racial group references have transformed over time (e.g., Native Americans has replaced the term Indians. Indians is now reserved in scholarly works to refer to South Asians from the nation of India.) 
  • Time periods can be vague so try to be fairly broad ("19th century" instead of 1849-1879) unless you are looking at a specific event such as a revolution. 
  • Scholars will have preferred ways to reference an event, place or person but there is not any hard and fast rule. 
    • Geographic names can change over time (Myanmar used to be Burma) or have different coverage (England is the nation, Great Britain is the island consisting of England, Scotland and Wales, and the United Kingdom is England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.) 
    • Non-Roman alphabets may be translated into English with a number of variant spellings.
    • Early English has a great deal of inconsistent spellings and British English spells many common words differently than American English. 
  • Primary sources demonstrate the stereotypes and prejudices of the time, especially in the popular press or during times of conflict. 
  • Propaganda or materials created by those in power are biased and frequently distorts facts regarding those without power.
  • Give appropriate credit in your citation and comply with usage restrictions. 
    • Most sources allow use for educational purpose as long as cited or a particular condition is met. See Zapatistas! Anti-copyright statement and Creative Commons as examples.) 
    • Some sources will clearly state they cannot be used without a fee (e.g., Getty Images)
    • The information or image must be from the original source (NOT Wikipedia, Pinterest or Google Images...) 
  • Be a critical consumer, just because it is the first link does not mean it is the best. 

Your topic areas are: 

  • Imperial governance and law 
  • Native Americans
  • Atlantic Slave trade 
  • Slavery in North America 
  • Ordinary lives in early America 
  • War 
  • Land use / agriculture / environment 

There is a PRIMARY tab to the left that will have sub-tabs, one for each topic, pointing to primary resources of use for that topic.  

Special Collections & History Librarian

Judith Downie's picture
Judith Downie
KEL 5010
760-750-4374 (Fall 2020 will check once a day)