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Colonies in America: Commerce, Business, and the Economy

A guide for researchers interested in studying commerce and business during the Colonial period in the British, French, and Spanish colonies.


This guide is intended for researchers interested in studying commerce and business during the Colonial period, defined for the purposes of this guide, as the time prior to the American Revolution. This guide covers all colonial possessions in the Americas, so although there is an emphasis on the British Colonies, it also includes material about French and Spanish possessions.

We have included primary sources, databases, and print material that may be of interest to teachers as well as students. However, this is guide is just a starting point - not all topics are covered. Also, not all places and topics have the  same level of attention as others so it may be necessary to look to articles in academic journals to fill in if there are no books available.

Lastly, some of the material included in this guide had been cataloged as more general history titles but we have only included the ones that are more business in nature. As there are many general history titles, we cannot include those even though they may be helpful for understanding the economic and business history of a place.

map of North America
Thomas Jefferys. North America. [175-?] Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

About the Business Section

Part of the Science & Business Reading Room at the Library of Congress, the Business Section is the starting point for conducting research at the Library of Congress in the subject areas of business and economics. Here, reference specialists in specific subject areas of business assist patrons in formulating search strategies and gaining access to the information and materials contained in the Library's rich collections of business and economics materials.