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Colonies in America: Commerce, Business, and the Economy

General History

Franz Xaver Habermann. Vuë de Boston. Prospect von Boston gegen der Bucht am Hasen Vuë de Boston vers le Cale du Port / gravé par Francois Xav. Habermann. [177-]  Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

This section includes material that has a general focus on commerce, business, and the economic situation in Colonial America. Some titles have a wider scope than Colonial America, but we have tried to explain what is contained in those titles that may be of interest. Also, many of the titles included can be quite old but have been included as they are referenced extensively and are important titles to know about for this time period.

To research more specialized topics related to the business, commercial and economic situation of Colonial America that are not currently covered in this guide, we recommend using some of the more general sources included here, in combination with focused searches of those topics in books, journal articles, and databases.

We have not included general histories or books about colonization though those sources can be helpful in understanding the economic and commercial activities in Colonial America. While we also did not generally include contemporary materials related to voyages which can offer insight into the period, we did include some material related to Richard Hakluyt.

Many titles that offer a more detailed picture of business and commerce in the colonies are likely to be focused on a particular town, city, state, or region. This means that some books with a limited geographical focus will be important sources for those looking for information on crops, activities, or other topics that were concentrated in particular areas. Many of these types of collections can be found in local and state historical societies.

For those researchers that need go even deeper there are original records of various departments of the various governments which, in general, are not included in this guide. For example, the British government departments of interest include the Colonial Office, the Treasury Office, and the Exchequer. Materials from the House of Commons and the House of Lords may also prove useful and informative in some situations. While many of these records may be held and/or accessed in the UK's National Archives (sometimes seen as Public Records Office) or the British Library, often there are alternative access points via databases and microform collections in other institutions. 


Additional Reading

The following materials link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to digital content are provided when available.