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Colonies in America: Commerce, Business, and the Economy

The Local Perspective

North America
William Faden. The United States of North America, with the British territories. 1793. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

When studying commerce and business generally, it can be important, sometimes even necessary, to also look at material on a local level. Given the time period covered by this guide, there may not be many specific books on the history of commerce, business, and industry of a place except for any treatment given to those topics in more general historical books about that particular state, city/town, or county.

This section was designed to assist two particular groups of researchers - those who are interested in the business and commercial history of a specific place, and those needing sources that focus on specific places as a way to supplement research that is wider in scope.

While books often cover a specific place – city/town, county, state, region – articles are also going to be an important resource for this type of research. In this situation, local historical and genealogical publications published by historical societies are an important resource. They will publish articles on the people and industries having such prominence that the history of a place cannot be told without telling their story.

Where we could, we tried to include books having both a general "business" and a local focus. When we were unable to identify books focusing exclusively on the business or commerce of a region, we have included some titles having a more general historical focus as a way to understand the place, especially if the titles made a point to include a look at the business, commerce, and industry of that place; otherwise, broad histories of localities are generally excluded from this section. Also you should be aware that books devoted to a specific industry or crop in a particular location may be found in other sections of this guide.

Lastly, not all places are covered to the same degree. Because this guide covers the period before the Revolution in what is now the United States, the focus is on the thirteen colonies; in addition, there is some material related to the Spanish and French holdings in Florida and the area of Louisiana Purchase. Because we cannot include every book that may be useful, please use the subject headings in this section to find more material related to local history.

Multiple Regions

Some books are more general in nature or cover much broader topics, this section includes sources that do not necessarily fit in more specific geographic breakdowns. The following materials link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to digital content are provided when available.