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Colonies in America: Commerce, Business, and the Economy


De insulis nuper in mari Indico repertis. Summary: Christopher Columbus discovering America. 1494. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

This section is an attempt to provide introductory sources for those doing research that today would be classified as doing industry research with a particular focus on consumers. While a number of the items in this section are not strictly “business” as we would think of them today, these items were chosen because they covered aspects that would be helpful for those interested in understanding the marketplace and how people bought goods and may include the type of information a modern researcher would need if they were doing research like statistics, analysis, etc. Additional citations can be found in entries from the Oxford Bibliographies database. These include: "Economy and Consumption in the Atlantic World," "British Atlantic World, "Domestic Production and Consumption in the Atlantic World," etc.

The items below are from the Library’s collections. However, there are collections with materials related to these topics scattered throughout the country in historical society collections, state libraries, and other archival collections. Also, other sections of this guide can include sources that may be of interest for the focus of this section and have not been included below. The following materials link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to digital content are provided when available.

Search the Library's Catalog

This is a brief listing of some of the subjects for the topics covered in this section but does not include subject headings for all the industries and types of businesses. Additional works in the Library of Congress on business, commerce, trade, and the economy in what becomes the United States may be identified by searching the Online Catalog under appropriate Library of Congress subject headings. Choose the topics you wish to search from the following list to link directly to the Catalog and automatically execute a search that will allow you to browse related subject headings. But for additional subject headings broader in nature, see the “Search the Library's Catalog” section of this guide.