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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 access to the vast archive of circa 70,000 manuscript materials. Now for the first time, these documents are full-text searchable using Handwritten Text Recognition technology.


Sourced from The National Archives UK, Colonial America offers access to thousands of documents on North America from 1606-1822. Described as an ‘indispensable’ resource for researchers of the early-modern Atlantic world and winner of Library Journal’s ‘Best Reference’ Award, scholars and researchers have clamoured for access to this material for years. Published in five-modules:

Module I: Early Settlement, Expansion and Rivalries (Available now)
Module II: Towards Revolution (Available now)
Module III: The American Revolution (Available now)
Module IV: Legislation and Politics in the Colonies
Module V: Growth, Trade and Development

NEW: Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR) for full-text searching

Colonial America is the first primary source collection to offer transformative research possibilities with full-text searching across all manuscript documents using Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR).

HTR is a groundbreaking search technology utilising artificial intelligence to deliver document-level full-text search results in manuscript material. The HTR application uses complex algorithms and artificial intelligence to determine possible combinations of characters in handwritten documents. This enables relevant handwritten text to be identified at document level, allowing users to easily navigate between highlighted search results. Read more or watch the demonstration video here.