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American Revolution

American Revolution Subject Guide


The William L. Clements Library cares for world-renowned primary source materials on the American Revolutionary War.  Its strengths include foreign relations, particularly between Great Britain, the American colonies, and France; British administration of the colonies; colonial resistance; politics; economics and economic reforms; military administration, strategy, and activities; Navy and maritime affairs; Native American interests; American and British perceptions of Revolutionary events; and other topics.  

Printed sources include patriot and loyalist pamphlets, broadsides, newspapers, narratives of events, memoirs, and biographies.  Printed and manuscript maps document changing boundaries, knowledge of the terrain, military and naval planning, and documentation of military and naval actions.  Among them are city and fortification maps and plans.  Visual source material includes printed portraiture, satirical prints, propaganda, landscape and city views, and other materials documenting the visual culture of the Revolutionary era.

The Clements Library’s American Revolution manuscript holdings draw researchers from around the world, particularly those studying the conflict from the British perspective.  Researchers will find tens of thousands of letters, documents, diaries, orderly books, account books, and other handwritten materials pertinent to British North America and the West Indies from the end of the Seven Years’ War through the 1782-1783 Treaty of Paris negotiations.  Although the Revolutionary War manuscripts are predominantly British, the Library also holds an abundance of American papers.  The cornerstone Revolutionary War collections include:

Subject Headings

Search by personal or corporate names (e.g. Washington, George; Gage, Thomas; Continental Congress; etc.)

Search by geographic name, followed by the “–History–Revolution, 1775-1783” subdivision (e.g. Boston (Mass.)–History–Revolution, 1775-1783; South Carolina–History–Revolution, 1775-1783; etc.)

The following subjects include some broad terms; narrowing your search by date of publication will help identify relevant materials.

Broad Subject Headings

Great Britain–Colonies–Administration
Great Britain. Army–Colonial forces–America
Great Britain–Colonies–America–Commerce
Great Britain–Colonies–America–Economic policy
Great Britain–Commerce–United States
Great Britain–Foreign relations
Great Britain–Foreign relations–United States
Great Britain–Politics and government–18th century
Great Britain. Royal Navy
Great Britain. Stamp Act (1765)
Great Britain–Taxation
Great Britain. Treaties, etc. United States, 1783 Sept. 3
Indians of North America–Wars–1775-1783
Taxation–Great Britain–Colonies—America
United States–Commerce–Great Britain
United States–Foreign relations
United States–Foreign relations–Great Britain
United States–History–Revolution, 1775-1783
United States–History–Revolution, 1775-1783–British forces
United States–History–Revolution, 1775-1783–Campaigns
United States–History–Revolution, 1775-1783–Causes
United States–History–Revolution, 1775-1783–Commerce
United States–History–Revolution, 1775-1783–Economic aspects
United States–History–Revolution, 1775-1783–Foreign public opinion, British
United States–History–Revolution, 1775-1783–Naval operations
United States–History–Revolution, 1775-1783–Participation, African American
United States–History–Revolution, 1775-1783–Participation, French
United States–History–Revolution, 1775-1783–Participation, German
United States–History–Revolution, 1775-1783–Peace
United States–History–Revolution, 1775-1783–Personal narratives
United States–History–Revolution, 1775-1783–Prisoners and prisons
United States–History–Revolution, 1775-1783–Social aspects
United States. Continental Army
United States–Politics and government–1775-1783

Example Terms for Revolutionary War Battles

Boston (Mass.)–History–Siege, 1775-1776
Brandywine, Battle of, Pa., 1777
Bunker Hill, Battle of, Boston, Mass., 1775
Camden, Battle of, Camden, S.C., 1780
Charleston (S.C.)–History–Siege, 1780
Chestnut Neck, Battle of, N.J., 1778
Concord, Battle of, Concord, Mass., 1775
Cowan’s Ford, Battle of, N.C., 1781
Cowpens, Battle of, Cowpens, S.C., 1781
Eutaw Springs, Battle of, S.C., 1781
Fort Moultrie, Battle of, S.C., 1776
Fort Ticonderoga (N.Y.)–Capture, 1775
Groton Heights, Battle of, Conn., 1781
Guilford Courthouse, Battle of, N.C., 1781
Hobkirk’s Hill, Battle of, S.C., 1781
King’s Mountain, Battle of, S.C., 1780
Lexington, Battle of, Lexington, Mass., 1775
Lindley’s Mill, Battle of, N.C., 1781
Long Island, Battle of, New York, N.Y., 1776
Monmouth, Battle of, Freehold, N.J., 1778
Moore’s Creek Bridge, Battle of, N.C., 1776
Ninety Six (S.C.)–History–Siege, 1781
Oriskany, Battle of, N.Y., 1777
Paulus Hook, Battle of, N.J., 1779
Penobscot Expedition (1779)
Pensacola (Fla.)–History–Siege, 1781
Québec (Québec)–History–Siege, 1775-1776
Red Bank, Battle of, N.J., 1777
Rhode Island, Battle of, R.I., 1778
Saratoga Campaign, N.Y., 1777
Sint Eustatius–History–Capture by the British, 1781
Stony Point, Battle of, Stony Point, N.Y., 1779
Trenton, Battle of, Trenton, N.J., 1776
White Plains, Battle of, White Plains, N.Y., 1776
Yorktown (Va.)–History–Siege, 1781

Online Resources

Last Updated 7/31/19