Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 85,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World through the end of the twentieth century.

Colonization & Settlement, 1493–1763

Reference Guides: Colonization & Settlement, 1493–1763

Beginning with a 1493 Latin printing of Columbus’s letter to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, the Collection contains more than 4000 colonial-era documents that chronicle the establishment of European settlements in the New World, relations with American Indians, the French and Indian War, Quaker settlements, and commerce in the colonies. The materials in the Collection focus on the English and Dutch colonies, with some materials relating to the Spanish and French territories. Official documents include treaties between European powers and American Indians, Acts of Parliament, and decrees of the colonial governments. The colonists’ letters describe the hardships of daily life, relations with American Indians, the establishment of communities, and economic activity.

Selected searches in the Collection’s Catalog