Frontier Life

Borderlands, Settlement and Colonial Encounters

Journey to the far reaches of settler frontiers across the globe.

Through a large array of unique documents, this multi-archive collection captures the lives, experiences and colonial encounters of people living at the edges of the Anglophone world from 1650-1920.

Experience settlements across the various frontiers of North America, Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Explore documents on the creation of new states, trade networks, and movements of people in these regions alongside the marginalisation and decline of Indigenous peoples.

Frontier Life brings together documents from sixteen archives and libraries around the world. This geographical spread of material allows users to take a comparative approach or focus on a particular region, making it ideal for teaching and student projects, as well as more in-depth scholarly research.

The vast majority of the collection is never-before published, making it a vital resource for scholars and students of colonialism and imperialism, global history, historical geography, Indigenous studies, the American West, migration, borderlands and economic history.

  • Records of expeditions allowing for comparison of exploration in North America, Africa and Australia
  • Letters of application of the 1820 settlers to the Cape Colony
  • Abel Janney’s captivity narrative after his imprisonment by the Shawnee Indians
  • Gold rush and mining material relating to Klondike, Victoria, California, and the Transvaal
  • Documents on the long and complicated history of Mexico-Texas relations
  • Dispatches from Arthur Phillip, first Governor of New South Wales, relating to the settlement of Australia and first encounters with Aboriginal peoples
  • The Journals of the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Key data

Period covered


Source archives

  • American Philosophical Society, Pennsylvania
  • California Historical Society
  • Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin
  • Earlham College, Indiana
  • Glenbow Museum
  • Guilford College, North Carolina
  • Hudson’s Bay Company Archives and Archives of Manitoba
  • Lilly Library, Indiana University
  • Massachusetts Historical Society
  • Missouri History Museum
  • Royal Commonwealth Society collections at Cambridge University Library
  • State Library of New South Wales
  • Louis Mercantile Library at the University of Missouri – St. Louis
  • The National Archives, UK
  • University of California, San Diego
  • University of Melbourne Library
  • Settlement development
  • Law and order
  • Violence
  • Expeditions and exploration
  • Relations with indigenous peoples
  • Trade and commerce
  • Death and disease
  • Missionaries and religion
  • Women's history
  • Military matters
  • Mining
  • Religion
  • Gold rushes
  • Settler governance
  • Contested boundaries
  • Agriculture and livestock
  • Correspondence
  • Diaries
  • Government documents
  • Memoirs and accounts
  • Business and financial documents
  • Maps
  • Books
  • Artworks
  • Photographs
  • Legal documents
  • Peter Blodgett, Huntington Library
  • Elizabeth Elbourne, McGill University
  • Ted Koditschek, University of Missouri, Columbia
  • Alan Lester, University of Sussex
  • Richard Price, University of Maryland
  • Samuel Truett, University of New Mexico
  • Lorenzo Veracini, Swinburne Institute of Technology
  • Elliot West, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
  • African Studies
  • Australian and New Zealand Studies
  • Communities, Peoples and Nations
  • Ethnic and Indigenous Studies
  • European Studies
  • Migration and Border Studies
  • North American Studies
  • Virtual collections
  • Interactive maps
  • Chronology
  • Visual galleries
  • Thematic guides


Supporting material


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