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Colonial America

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Complete CO5 files from The National Archives, UK, 1606-1822

A 'game changing' development for historians and researchers of early America, the Atlantic world, the Caribbean and the nascent British Empire, Colonial America enables online access to the vast archive of circa 70,000 documents of manuscript materials for the first time.


Colonial America is a five-module resource (released over five years) featuring all 1,450 files of the CO 5 class at The National Archives, UK. Consisting of the original correspondence between the Board of Trade and Secretaries of State and the English, later British, colonies in North America and the Caribbean, seasoned scholars and researchers have clamoured for access to this material for years.

Module 1: Early Settlement, Expansion and Rivalries (Available now)
Module 2: Towards Revolution (Available now)
Module 3: The American Revolution
Module 4: Legislation and Politics in the Colonies
Module 5: Growth, Trade and Development

Made up of letters, charters and commissions, instructions to officials, military documents (including war diaries), newspapers, printed pamphlets, public notices, maps and many other material types, the documents shed light on all aspects of life in colonial America – political, economic, military, cultural and social – covering such topics as:

  • The beginning and expansion of English settlement

  • The development of colonial institutions

  • Settlers’ relationships with Native Americans

  • English/British relations with the Dutch, French and Spanish

  • Trade and protectionism

  • War

  • Piracy and privateering

  • Religious matters

  • Tobacco, sugar and other commodities

  • Slavery and the slave trade

  • Political protest and unrest

  • The American Revolution

Each high-quality, colour document is accompanied by extensive metadata maximising the searchability and usability of material that for the most part is in manuscript.

The resource incorporates additional features of interest to teachers and students, including contextual essays by leading scholars and an interactive gallery showcasing the numerous maps in the CO 5 collection.