Featured Primary Sources

Early Settlements

Nothing can enrich and enliven our understanding of the nation’s past, or dispel apathy about it, more powerfully than primary sources. The primary sources below open up a variety of viewpoints and have been chosen by master teachers specifically for use in the classroom. Affiliate School members can print a packet that includes an image of the document, photograph, or other resource, a transcript where applicable, text to place the document in historical context, and document-based questions. Additionally, you may want to search the Gilder Lehrman Collection itself for other resources to enrich your lessons.

Sebastian Brandt to Henry Hovener, January 13, 1622. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

A Jamestown settler describes life in Virginia, 1622

Creator: Sebastian Brandt Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Geography Grade Levels: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Fernando de Rivera y Moncada to Antonio de Bucareli y Ursua, October 20, 1776.

A report from Spanish California, 1776

Creator: Fernando de Rivera y Moncada Curriculum Subjects: Foreign Languages, Government and Civics Grade Levels:
Agreement between Livingston and Kidd, and Blackham, 1696. (GLC)

A secret agreement between pirate hunters, 1696

Creator: Robert Livingston, William Kidd, and Richard Blackham Curriculum Subjects: World History Grade Levels:
John Winthrop to Nathaniel Rich, May 22, 1634. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

John Winthrop describes life in Boston, 1634

Creator: John Winthrop Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Novi Belgi Novaeque Angliae [New Netherland and New England], 1682.

Late seventeenth-century map of the Northeast, 1682

Creator: Nicholas Visscher Curriculum Subjects: Geography, World History Grade Levels: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
True copy of articles, whereupon . . . the New Netherlands were surren

The surrender of New Netherland, 1664

Creator: Richard Nicholls Curriculum Subjects: Geography Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+

Primary Sources from Other Sub-Eras

A view of Savanah [sic] as it stood the 29th of March, 1734, engraving by Pierre

A View of Savannah, Georgia, 1734

Creator: Pierre Fourdrinier Curriculum Subjects: World History Grade Levels: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
The Landing of Henrick Hudson, based on a paint1857. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

Landing of Henrick Hudson, 1609

Creator: Martin, Johnson & Co Curriculum Subjects: Geography Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Recens Edita totius Novi Belgii [New Netherland - New York], 1730. (Gilder Lehrm

Map of the New World, with European settlements and American Indian tribes, 1730

Creator: Matthew Seutter Curriculum Subjects: Geography Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
he Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano.... (London, 1794). (Lib

Olaudah Equiano

Creator: Curriculum Subjects: Economics, World History Grade Levels: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
The Algonquian village of Secotan in present-day North Carolina, an engraving ba

Secotan, an Algonquian village, ca. 1585

Creator: John White Curriculum Subjects: Art Grade Levels: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+

Sir Francis Drake’s attack on St. Augustine, 1586

Creator: Baptista Boazio Curriculum Subjects: Economics, World History Grade Levels:
Daniel Horsmanden, A Journal of the Proceedings . . . 1744. (GLC04502.01)

The New York Conspiracy of 1741

Creator: Daniel Horsmanden Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Government and Civics Grade Levels:
A Memorial of the State of the Province of Massachusetts Bay in New England to Q

The Province of Massachusetts Bay requests aid from Queen Anne, 1708

Creator: Thomas Oliver Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Expeditionis Hispanorum in Angliam, 1588, by Robert Adams (London, 1590). (LOC)

The Spanish Armada, 1588

Creator: Curriculum Subjects: World History Grade Levels: