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Bibliographical guides

The American Colonies, 1584-1688: a Selective Guide to Materials in the British Library
Anne Sharp Wells

The American Colonies, 1584-1688: A Selective Guide to Materials in the British Library concerns the European colonization of the areas of North America that later became the United States of America, focusing on the fifteen states bordering the Atlantic Ocean. It emphasizes the settlement and development of the colonies rather than discovery and exploration, although those aspects are represented. Chronologically the guide begins in 1584, when an English expedition sent by Sir Walter Raleigh explored the islands off the coast of present-day North Carolina in preparation for the founding of a short-lived settlement the following year and the 'Lost Colony' in 1587. Not until 1607 was a permanent English settlement made at Jamestown (Virginia). To the northeast, Pilgrims established in 1620 the first such colony in Plymouth (Massachusetts). The guide concludes in 1688 as the Glorious Revolution began in England, bringing William and Mary to the throne. Although its chronological boundaries are determined by English events, the guide also covers the activities of other countries involved in the colonization of the continent.

The guide does not attempt to duplicate the extensive bibliographical work that has identified items published during this period. While excluding such publications, it does include edited or annotated editions of contemporary works. Readers wishing to study imprints of the period can consult the reference works listed in the guide, as well as the English Short Title Catalogue database and the electronic version of Wing's Short-title Catalogue (listed in full in Section I), both of which are available in the Humanities Reading Room in St. Pancras.

The entries are arranged by topic or geographical area, with current state borders used when possible. Each citation ends with the British Library shelf mark in parentheses. The designation 'DSC' means that the work is held by the Documents Supply service at Boston Spa but can be ordered for use at St. Pancras.

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