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Native American Resources in the Manuscript Division

European Colonial Administration

Unattributed. Archivo General de Indias, Seville, Spain. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

Between 1500 and 1867, six European countries (Spain, Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Russia) established a colonial presence within the current borders of the continental United States. Each of these countries developed their own approach towards the Indigenous people already living in the lands they aimed to claim for settlement and resource extraction, ranging from exterminatory policies to evangelization and assimilation. The collections described on this page cover British, Spanish, and Russian colonial administration in North America. Records of Spanish Florida and Russian Alaska are particularly well documented.

Notable collections on this topic include the East Florida Papers, which chronicle the second Spanish occupation of Florida, from 1783-1821. The East Florida papers have been digitized (linked below) and made freely available online. Also covering Spanish Florida is the Jeannette Thurber Connor collection of Floridiana, which includes materials copied from the Archivo General de Indias, pictured on the right.

Collections related to Russian Alaska include the Yudin collection of Russian-American Company records, which are available online. These records document how the Russian-chartered company engaged in colonization through the fur trade and religious missions. Combined with the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church of America: Diocese of Alaska records, they offer an extensive view of Russo-Alaska Native relations in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Though these collections focus more narrowly on colonial administration, researchers interested in European colonization of North America more broadly will also find relevant material on the "Missions and Missionaries" and "Western Explorers and Adventurers" pages. Additionally, the "pre-1865" grouping on the "Indian Wars" page includes various collections relating to British military engagements with Native Americans pre-Revolutionary War.

Tip: Search collection names in the community name index for a fuller list of specific communities mentioned in each collection.


The following collection titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional online content, including finding aids for the collections, are included when available.