Colonial North America at Harvard Library provides access to remarkable and wide-ranging materials digitized as part of an ongoing, multi-year project. When complete, the project will make available to the world approximately 470,000 digitized pages of all known archival and manuscript materials in the Harvard Library that relate to 17th- and 18th-century North America. At present, there are nearly 300,000 digitized pages available through this website and updates are made periodically. The items linked to the map below illustrate the nature of the materials in the collection. Not only documenting life in New England, the collection also extends well beyond those boundaries to Canada, other areas of North America, and South America; to Atlantic islands and across the Atlantic Ocean to Great Britain, continental Europe, and parts of Africa. Curated features on the website provide a deeper look at several topical areas and suggest ways of approaching the use of different kinds of materials to gain new insights. Major support for this multi-year project, still underway, is generously provided by Arcadia, The Polonsky Foundation, James B. Adler through the Adler Preservation Fund, and Peter H. Darrow and William O. Nutting through a fund for the Colonial North America ("CNA") Digitization Project at the Harvard Library. This website is updated regularly, so please check back for newly digitized content and features.

Compass Rose

The circles on the map below are live links. Click on them to discover examples of the types and locations of material in this collection available from around the world. The hand-colored background map is Novissima totius terrarum orbis tabula (ca.1690). The double hemispherical map of the world shows Australia as Hollandia Nova with an unmapped east coast. The globes are surrounded by colored illustrations of figures and animals of the Zodiac.

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Nova Scotia

Ledger containing accounts of smallpox inoculation by Dr. John Jeffries, 1776-1779


An account of Steward’s expenses, 1688


Inquest of the genealogy and “limpieza de sangre,” 1624


An Act of Assembly of Barbadoes to regulate sales at outcry, 1763

Great Britain/Virginia

Letter from Anne, Queen of Great Britain, 1708


Lettres Patentes du Roy, 1717


Notebook of consul Joel Barlow, 1796

Explore Further!

These selections illustrate just some of the numerous geographic regions represented throughout the collection…

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A Closer Look