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   Issue 27, Spring 2017

The United States of North America, with the British territories.


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.

BERA - Business & Economics Research Advisor - A Quarterly Guide to Business & Economics Topics

Issue 27: Spring 2017

The Colonies in America: Commerce, Business, and the Economy

Table of Contents

General History
The Local Perspective
Trade & Mercantilism    New resource
   Atlantic Slave Trade   New resource
Money, Prices, & Banking   New resource
Statistics & Data
Internet Sources & Map Collections
LC Subject Headings

Caption (image left):
The United States of North America, with the British territories.
Faden, William, 1749-1836.
Charing Cross, 1793.
Library of Congress Geography and Map Division
Digital ID:

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.

New England       |    New York    |    Pennsylvania    |     The Southern Colonies    |    Maryland
Virginia    |    The Carolinas    |    Louisiana    |    Florida    |     Multiple Regions    |     LC Subject Headings

New England

Bailyn, Bernard. The New England Merchants in the Seventeenth Century. Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1955.
LC Call Number: HF3151 .B3
LC Catalog Record: 55005222

This book tells the story of how over several generations of struggle, merchants in New England achieved social and economic power. Chapters include: 1 Origins of Trade; 2 Establishment of the Puritan Merchants; 3 Adjustments and Early Failures; 4 The Legacy of the First Generation; 5 Introduction to Empire; 6 Elements of Change; and 7 The Merchant Group at the End of the Seventeenth Century.

Entrepreneurs : The Boston Business Community, 1700-1850. Conrad Edick Wright, Katheryn P. Viens, editors. Boston : Massachusetts Historical Society : Distributed by Northeastern University Press, 1997.
LC Call Number: HF3163.B6 E58 1997
LC Catalog Record: 97180572

This title is a series of essays by various authors that began as papers delivered at a May 1994 conference at the Massachusetts Historical Society. It is generally in chronological order; however, the largest group of essays deals with entrepreneurs in new or changing industries: goldsmithing, carpentry, marine insurance, and the book trades. There is some attention to women and members of the black community in business as well as essays to provide context and social analysis.

The New England Historical & Genealogical Register, published quarterly under the direction of the New England Historic, Genealogical Society. Boston : S.G. Drake, 1847-
LC Call Number: F1 .N56
LC Catalog Record: 86655751

Contains articles mostly relevant for genealogical research but does include articles that may be useful for business researchers such as biographies of well-known merchants and merchant families and articles like "Boston ‘banks,' 1681–1740: those who were interested in them" by Andrew McFarland Davis (1903). This was published quarterly since 1847. The Library of Congress has several records for this title for both print content and microfiche content. Some issues are available via HathiTrust and the Internet Archive.

Susquehannah Company. The Susquehannah Company Papers. / edited by Julian P. Boyd ; editorial advisory committee, Charles M. Andrews, N.S.B. Gras, St. George L. Sioussat. Wilkes-Barre´, Pa. : Wyoming Historical & Geological Society, 1930-1933.
LC Call Number: F157.W9 S96
LC Catalog Record: 32016211
LC Catalog Record: 62019924
Available online from Hathi Trust Digital Library External Link

Susquehanna Company, land company was formed in 1753 in Connecticut for the purpose of developing the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania. An electronic copy of the original 4 volumes is available via HathiTrust. Those volumes cover the period before the Revolution: v. 1. 1750-1755 — v. 2. 1756-1767 — v. 3. 1768-1769 — v. 4. 1770-1772.

Winthrop family papers, 1537-1904.
LC Catalog Record: mm78057943
The Winthrop Papers Digital Edition External Link

This is a microfilm collection that consists of public and private papers of the Winthrop family of Massachusetts and Connecticut, including Gov. John Winthrop, John Winthrop, Jr., Fitz-John Winthrop, Wait Still Winthrop, John Winthrop, F.R.S., Prof. John Winthrop, Thomas Lindall Winthrop, Robert C. Winthrop, Robert C. Winthrop, Jr., and their families. The collection includes correspondence; diaries and travel journals; deeds; account books; medical, legal, and genealogical records; diplomas and commissions; inventories and estate settlements; scrapbooks; speeches; autographs and portraits; and annotated books and publications.

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New York

Condon, Thomas J. New York Beginnings; the Commercial Origins of New Netherland. New York, New York University Press, 1968.
LC Call Number: F122.1 .C6
LC Catalog Record: 68028003

The history of the West India Company figures heavily in this title which looks to provide insight and answers as to what the Dutch were trying to accomplish in New Netherland. The bibliography is helpful in identifying primary, secondary, and a host of other sources.

White, Philip L. The Beekmans of New York in politics and commerce, 1647-1877; with an introduction by Fenwick Beekman. New York : New-York Historical Society under a grant from the Beekman Family Association, 1956.
LC Call Number: CS71.B441 1956
LC Catalog Record: 56014653

Published as a companion to the Beekman Family papers held by the New York Historical society library, this title looks at 6 generations of the prominent New York mercantile family, the Beekmans, from William Beekman's arrival with Peter Stuyvesant in 1647 to the career of James William Beekman, a prominent New York politician in the 19th century. Of particular interest to the historical researcher focusing on business is the list of 18th century trade terms included in the work.

White, Philip L., ed. The Beekman Mercantile Papers, 1746-1799, transcribed and edited by Philip L. White under a grant from the Beekman Family Association. New York, New-York Historical Society, 1956.
LC Call Number: HF3025 .W5
LC Catalog Record: 57000200
Available online from Hathi Trust Digital Library External Link

Contains accounts and shipping records information. Contents include: volume 1 has Gerard G. Beekman letter book, 1746-1770; volume 2 has James Beekman correspondence, 1750-1799; volume 3 is James Beekman correspondence (cont'd.) and Gerard W. Beekman's letters to his brother William, 1777-1782.; there is also an Appendix which includes sample invoices of shipments to James Beekman.

Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York; procured in Holland, England, and France, by John Romeyn Brodhead. Edited by E. B. O'Callaghan. With a general introd. by the agent. Albany, Weed, Parsons, Printers, 1853-87 [v. 1, 1856]
LC Call Number: F122 .D66 1969
LC Catalog Record: 71093943

This is a 15 volume set of transcripts of document related to what is now New York in a chronological presentation. Volumes 1-10 were documents relating to the colonial history of the state of New-York; procured in Holland, England and France.
Volume 1 1603-1656 (Holland documents)
Volume 2 1657-1678 (Holland documents)
Volume 3 1614-1692 (London documents)
Volume 4 1693-1706 (London documents)
Volume 5 1707-1733 (London documents)
Volume 6 1734-1755 (London documents)
Volume 7 1756-1767 (London documents)
Volume 8 1768-1882 (London documents)
Volume 9 1631-1744 (Paris documents)
Volume 10 1745-1774 (Paris documents)
Volume 11 a general index of the documents
Volume 12 a history of the Dutch and Swedish settlements on the Delaware River
Volume 13 a history of settlements on the Hudson river
Volume 14 a history of settlements on Long Island
Volume 15 New York and the Revolution.
Electronic versions of this title are available via the HathiTrust External Link and the Internet Archive.External Link

Klooster, Wim. The Dutch Moment: War, Trade, and Settlement in the Seventeenth-Century Atlantic World. Ithaca : Cornell University Press, 2016.
LC Call Number: DJ172 .K55 2016
LC Catalog Record: 2016014637

This book looks beyond just Colonial America, telling the story of how the Dutch built and eventually lost an Atlantic empire that stretched from the homeland in the United Provinces to the Hudson River and from Brazil and the Caribbean to the African Gold Coast. Some attention is paid to how Dutch colonization compared with English and French colonization.

A Maritime History of New York. Compiled by workers of the Writers Program of the Work Projects Administration for the City of New York ; original introduction by Fiorello La Guardia ; with new prologue by Norman Brouwer and epilogue by Barbara La Rocco. Brooklyn, N.Y. : Going Coastal, c2004.
LC Call Number: HF3163.N7 M37 2004
LC Catalog Record: 2004112487

This was originally published as a Writers Project in 1941 to provide a concise account of the Port of New York 400 year history. This is an expanded reprint with some additional content. It is presented in chronological fashion with chapters 1-5 covering the period prior to 1805. However, the original 1941 edition and a 1973 reprint are also available.

Matson, Cathy D. Merchants & Empire : Trading in Colonial New York. Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998.
LC Call Number: HF3163.N7 M38 1998
LC Catalog Record: 97002768
Publisher description

This is presented roughly in chronological order with each successive time period given a theme. Part one covers the period until 1700 and starts with the period when the port was established and moves on to early growth and the creation of a regional economy. Part two covers the period between 1700 until the years of war including the French and Indian War and just prior to the Revolution. There is an extensive notes section as well as two Appendixes. Appendix A is a series of tables and graphs covering trade figures, vessel movement, revenues, currency, and products sold (wheat, flour). Appendix B consists of a few bills of exchange.

"New York City's Growth." New York Times, January 1, 1886, p. 2.

An interesting article that looks at the city's growth before the Civil War.

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Tolles, Frederick Barnes. Meeting House and Counting House; The Quaker Merchants of Colonial Philadelphia, 1682-1763. Chapel Hill, Pub. for the Institute of Early American History and Culture at Williamsburg, Va., by the Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1948.
LC Call Number: BX7649.P5 T64
LC Catalog Record: 49000049

This book presents a useful picture of the Philadelphia business climate through its specific focus on Quaker businesses and people. There is a particularly extensive bibliographic essay.

The Southern Colonies

Dubcovsky, Alejandra. Informed Power: Communication in the Early American South. Cambridge, Massachusetts : Harvard University Press, 2016.
LC Call Number: P92.U6 D83 2016
LC Catalog Record: 2015031060

This book explores how people in the southern colonies came into possession of vital knowledge when there was no regular mail delivery system and covers the period before 1740s. The book begins with looking at the 16th and 17th centuries, focusing primarily on the situation in Florida. It moves on to look at oral networks such as scouts, traders, missionaries, and others. Lastly, it looks at war years and the years following before printing presses were brought to the region.

"Life in the Southern Colonies." Journal of the American Revolution, 2013
January 23, 2013 External Link
January 20, 2013 External Link
February 6, 2013 External Link

This is a three part series by David Lee Russell that looks at the southern colonies at the time of the Revolution, with a focus on their development up to that point.

Lonn, Ella. The Colonial Agents of the Southern Colonies. Chapel Hill, The University of North Carolina press, 1945.
LC Call Number: F212.L6
LC Catalog Record: 45004117

This book provides a detailed look at the role of colonial agents in London who represented the interests of the colony. It looks at the beginning and early development, as well as the duties, personnel, financial burdens, cooperation between agents and merchants, annoyances, and success/failures. It does include several appendixes including a list of Agents.

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Morriss, Margaret Shove. Colonial Trade of Maryland, 1689-1715. Baltimore, 1914.
LC Call Number: HF3161.M3 M62
LC Catalog Record: 14020403

This title is organized into three major parts – staple products and chief exports, imports, and trade routes and illicit trade. In the staple products and chief exports section a large part is devoted to information related to tobacco. In the imports section there is general information including information on the importation of manufactured goods as well as the importation of white servants and slaves and imports from other countries.

The Case of the Merchants, and Planters, Trading to and Residing in, Virginia, and Maryland. [London? 1728?]
LC Call Number: HF3025 .C3
LC Catalog Record: ca25001150

This brief pamphlet is a contemporary perspective on the relations between English merchants and the tobacco planters in Maryland and Virginia colonies. Related titles include: The Case of the planters of tobacco in Virginia, as represented by themselves signed by the president of the council, and speaker of the House of Burgesses; to which is added a vindication of the said representation External Link and A Reply to the Vindication of the Representation of the Case of the Planters of Tobacco in Virginia. The NYPL Digitial Collection Tobacco, its history and associations: including an account of the plant and its manufacture; with its modes of use in all ages and countries External Link contains an image of one page of this as well as other material collected by George Arents, Jr.


Bruce, Philip Alexander. Economic History of Virginia in the Seventeenth Century; an inquiry into the material condition of the people, based upon original and contemporaneous records. New York, P. Smith, 1935.
LC Call Number: F229 .B882
LC Catalog Record: 35027241

This title was originally published in 1895. The 1935 edition has two volumes. Volume one covers the reasons for establishing the colony as well as the Indian economy, agricultural development broken into a few time periods, as well as acquisition of land and labor system. Volume two continues with labor systems particularly with slavery and moves on to the planters and their estates, and domestic and international manufacturing supplies.

[Ellyson, James Taylor]. The London Company of Virginia; A Brief Account of its Transactions in Colonizing Virginia. New York and London, 1908.
LC Call Number: F229 .V92
LC Catalog Record: 09003509

Includes images of many of those involved with the Virginia Company as well as a general history. Copies are available on the HathiTrust and the Internet Archives – links are in the catalog record.

Hemphill, John M. Virginia and the English Commercial System, 1689-1733 : Studies in the Development and Fluctuations of a Colonial Economy Under Imperial Control. New York : Garland Pub., 1985.
LC Call Number: HF3161.V8 H46 1985
LC Catalog Record: 84045424

This title looks at the impact of the English commercial system on the economic development of Virginia. This title was originally presented as the author's thesis. Chapter one starts with the fluctuation in the tobacco trade from 1689-1720 and moves in chapter two to the great depression in the tobacco trade 1720-1729. Chapter three looks at rates of exchange, chapter four at conflict between planters and English merchants. Chapters five through eight look at the origins, development, failure, and aftermath of the excise scheme. Appendix A is a chart of rates of exchange between Virginia currency and sterling from 1706 to 1733 as pulled from several sources.

The Case of the Merchants, and Planters, Trading to and Residing in, Virginia, and Maryland. [London? 1728?]
LC Call Number: HF3025 .C3
LC Catalog Record: ca25001150

This brief pamphlet is a contemporary perspective on the relations between English merchants and the tobacco planters in Maryland and Virginia colonies. Related titles include: The Case of the planters of tobacco in Virginia, as represented by themselves signed by the president of the council, and speaker of the House of Burgesses; to which is added a vindication of the said representation External Link and A Reply to the Vindication of the Representation of the Case of the Planters of Tobacco in Virginia. The NYPL Digitial Collection Tobacco, its history and associations: including an account of the plant and its manufacture; with its modes of use in all ages and countries External Link contains an image of one page of this as well as other material collected by George Arents, Jr.

A Key to survey reports and microfilm of the Virginia Colonial Records Project. / edited by John T. Kneebone and Jon Kukla ; assisted by Daphne Gentry and Donald W. Gunter. Richmond : Virginia State Library and Archives, 1990.
LC Call Number: Z1345 .K49 1990
LC Catalog Record: 89048078

This is a two volume set that was the work of the Virginia Colonial Records Project. The project was established in the 1950s by the Virginia Historical Society, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the University of Virginia Library, and Library of Virginia to reconstitute the archive of Virginia's colonial history. Most of the documents surveyed were created between 1607 and 1783. Included are approximately 15,000 correspondence between British officials and colonial officers, customs records, business records, claims of British merchants concerning Virginia stores, log books, ships' cargo lists, Loyalists' claims, depositions, and chancery proceedings of British courts. Volume One covers the Public Record Office – looking specifically at various agencies of government including but not limited to – the Admiralty, Board of Trade, Chancery, Colonial Office, Board of Customs and Excise, Exchequer, Home office, Mint, etc. Volume Two looks at records outside of those in various locations in Greater London (British Library, Custom House, Guildhall Library, Lloyds of London, etc.), England generally (collections in Avon, Bedford, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Greater Manchester, Oxfordshire, etc.), Wales and Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, and France. The Library of Virginia Catalog in the Images & Indexes tab give options to search a number of useful things including those from the Virginia Colonial Records Project.

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The Carolinas

Hughson, Shirley C. The Carolina Pirates and Colonial Commerce, 1670-1740. Baltimore, The Johns Hopkins press, 1894.
LC Call Number: H31 .J6 vol. 12
LC Catalog Record: 01010840
LC Catalog Record: unk81031971

The author considers the rise of pirates, how they were regarded by both colonists and English authorities, how they affected the life and commerce of the places where they operated on the coast of the Carolina colonies, and how they were eradicated. Originally published as one of the Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science (12th series V-VI-VII). Reprints of these titles were published in 1971 and 1973.

Money, Trade, and Power : The Evolution of Colonial South Carolina's Plantation Society Edited by Jack P. Greene, Rosemary Brana-Shute, and Randy J. Sparks. Columbia : University of South Carolina Press, 2001.
LC Call Number: HC107.S7 M56 2001
LC Catalog Record: 00012601

The first six chapters of this collection of essays focus on the formative decades of South Carolina's history, from 1670 through the 1730s. There is attention to the colony's reliance on slave labor and how an emerging elite asserted their new status.


Clark, John Garretson. New Orleans, 1718-1812; An Economic History. Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University Press [1970]
LC Call Number: HC108.N4 C55
LC Catalog Record: 77119115

This book is an economic history of the City of New Orleans under successive mother countries presented in a chronological fashion though chapters on specific topics are inserted where it makes sense chronologically. Chapters 1-10 look at the period before 1783. It begins with a chapter on the founding of the city under the French and includes a chapter on the city's trade with France and other chapters about the merchants, finances, and patterns of trade. It then moves to the period of the Spanish colonial period and the city's relationship to the surrounding areas. There are two chapters devoted to the 1783-1803 period including one on trade before it moves to chapters on the Louisiana Purchase and the early years after the purchase.

Greenwald, Erin. Marc-Antoine Caillot and the Company of the Indies in Louisiana : Trade in the French Atlantic World. Baton Rouge : Louisiana State University Press, [2016]
LC Call Number: HF3161.L8 G74 2016
LC Catalog Record: 2015035737

This title looks at the French Company of the Indies between 1717 and 1731 and its dominant position in the slave and tobacco trade as well as its influence with negotiations with Native American peoples. Also available to subscribers through the Project Muse database.

Miller Surrey, N. M. The Commerce of Louisiana During the French Regime, 1699-1763. [1st AMS ed.] New York, AMS Press [1968]
LC Call Number: HF3025 .S8 1968
LC Catalog Record: 71076702

Because of the geography and time period of this book, much of the focus of this title is on such matters as waterways, navigation, and boats. There are also sections that deal with paper money and credits, trade between France and Louisiana, the slave trade, the fur trade, and trade with other areas including Cuba, Texas, the West Indies, Florida, and with the English.

Powell, Lawrence N. The Accidental City : Improvising New Orleans.  Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 2012.
LC Call Number: F379.N557 P68 2012
LC Catalog Record: 2011035074

The time period of this book ends with the Louisiana Purchase so it is helpful in understanding the early development of the city. It covers the French and Spanish periods and ends with the coming of the Americans.

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Harman, Joyce Elizabeth. Trade and Privateering in Spanish Florida, 1732-1763 / Joyce Elizabeth Harman ; with a new introduction by Carl E. Swanson. Tuscaloosa : University of Alabama Press, c2004.
LC Call Number: HF3161.F7 H34 2004
LC Catalog Record: 2003025371

This is a new edition of Harman's critical 1969 work. It is organized into five sections. Sections one and five are the introduction and conclusion with section two through four covering respectively trade and development (1717-1739), the War of Jenkins' Ear and its impact on privateering, and lastly the thriving trade in the area the French and Indian War. The title looks at the development of citrus exports and the colony's relation to the neighboring English colonies based on analysis of ship cargos and manifests, newspaper records and customs accounts as a way to illustrate life in Florida.

East Florida records, 1737-1858 (bulk 1783-1821)
LC Catalog Record: mm80019398
Finding Aid

Diplomatic, military, economic, judicial, legal, and administrative records of the Spanish colonial government of East Florida for the period of its second occupation, 1783-1821. Includes royal orders and decrees, census and other vital records, and records relating to such matters as defense, trade and shipping, surveys, hospitals, native Americans, slaves, and Louisiana. Also includes records pertaining to the earlier Spanish colonial government of East Florida, 1565-1763.

Multiple Regions

Conference "The Emergence of the Atlantic Economy" (4th : 1999 : Charleston, S.C.) The Atlantic Economy During the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries : organization, operation, practice, and personnel / edited by Peter A. Coclanis. Columbia : University of South Carolina Press, c2005.
LC Call Number: HF4045 .C66 1999
LC Catalog Record: 2004017358
Table of Contents

A series of papers from the conference. Includes coverage of the Dutch colonies, the slave trade, as well as commodity crops indigo, rice, and tobacco.

Kingsbury, Susan M. A Comparison of the Virginia Company with the Other English Trading Companies of the Sixteenth and Seventennth Centuries, Washington, 1908.
LC Call Number: E172 .A60 1906
LC Catalog Record: cd17000774

Pulled from the annual report of the American Historical Association (Volume 1). The focus is the Virginia Company but it also looks at other trading companies that operated in other parts of the world. E. Kingsbury is also responsible for the work done on the Virginia Company papers at the Library of Congress (see record below).

Neill, Edward D. History of the Virginia Company of London, with letters to and from the first colony never before printed, by Edward D. Neill. New York, B. Franklin, [1968]
LC Call Number: F229 .N412
LC Catalog Record: 02001310

The first, second, and third Charters of Virginia company are covered in the first three chapters of the book and the last chapter deals with the Company's dissolution. Other chapters cover particular people, and the preface includes transcriptions of letters/transactions. There is also a 1968 reprint of the title. The author references the Library's holdings of the Virginia Company and mentions how on May 28, 1868 Congress ordered to be printed a memorial of some of the transactions. See: Virginia Company of London.

Virginia Company of London. The Records of the Virginia Company of London / edited, with an introduction and bibliography, by Susan Myra Kingsbury. Washington : Govt. Print. Off., 1906-1935.
LC Call Number: F229 .V86
LC Catalog Record: 06035006

This collection contains the records of the Virginia Company, an English joint stock company established by royal charter by King James I with the purpose of establishing colonial settlements in North America. The company's records are available in print, microform, and online.

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LC Subject Headings

The subject headings below are only for states and larger regions - there are also many books written about particular towns, counties, and areas which are a rich source for an even more detailed picture. In the catalog do a SUBJECTS CONTAINING search using Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775 to see all that is available.

For additional subject that are broader in nature, see the LC Subject Headings section of this guide. Often, these subject headings can also be used in the catalogs of university and other research collections.

Last updated: 02/20/2018

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