Researching the American Revolution

Your source for information on the American War of Independence

Key References

Reading Room ceiling at the United States Library of Congress

Reference Books

Boatner, Mark Mayo. Encyclopedia of the American Revolution. Bicentennial ed. [rev. and expanded]. New York: D. McKay Co, 1974.

Boatner’s encyclopedia is the authoritative source for basic information on people, places, battles, and other overview information.  It is a “must-have” volume for every Revolutionary War researcher.

Heitman, Francis B. Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army During the War of the Revolution. Clearfield, 1932.

Heitman is the authoritative source for Continental Army officers, their promotions, dates of service and commands.  It is also a consistent source for name spelling.

Lesser, Charles H., ed. The Sinews of Independence:  Monthly Strength Reports of the Continental Army. Chicago; London: The University of Chicago Press, 1976.

Monthly listings of the number of officers and enlisted members are presented in tabular form in this book.  In addition, there are totals for sick and soldiers on furlough.

Newspapers

Newspapers are rich sources of information on the Revolutionary Era.  As with any primary source, care should be taken to assess accuracy and bias.  There are several on-line sources to access newspapers published during the Revolution.

Books on Revolutionary Era Newspapers

Adelman, Joseph M. Revolutionary Networks: The Business and Politics of Printing the News, 1763-1789. Studies in Early American Economy and Society from the Library Company of Philadelphia. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2019.

Andrlik, Todd, ed. Reporting the Revolutionary War: Before It Was History, It Was News. Naperville, Ill: Sourcebooks, 2012.

Humphrey, Carol Sue. The American Revolution and the Press: The Promise of Independence. Visions of the American Press. Evanston, Ill: Medill School of Journalism/Northwestern University Press, 2013.

Online Newspaper Archives

Virginia Gazettes (1736-1780). You can access the papers via this link.

Pennsylvania Gazette Online access at

Several South Carolina newspapers are online at link.

Revolutionary Boston newspapers at http://www.masshist.org/dorr/

London Gazette are only at  link

Large Databases with Revolutionary Era newspapers

Early American Newspapers are online at Readex
British Newspaper Archive is a helpful site for many British papers  link

On a much smaller scale, but free, I created a mini archive of full newspaper issues featured in Reporting the Revolutionary War. You can find those issues by clicking here and navigating through the chapters.

Web sites

David Library of the American Revolution

For links to useful web sites containing primary resources, Women’s history, Reenactment groups, Archives, and Bibliographies see Resources in the American Revolution and Early Republic Eras

Massachusetts Historical Society

For links to documents in various repositories, teacher and student resources, televisions and film and frameworks and standards click Useful links to Resources.

Society of the Cincinnati

This hereditary organization of Continental Army officers and their descendants offers an on-line library as well as a physical library located in Washington DC.

Slavery References

J. L. Bell’s blog 1775 provides a good overview of sources for names of slaves and runaway slavery newspaper advertisements in the Revolutionary era.

Slavery Databases

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