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Colonial State Papers: Home

The Colonial State Papers are a collection of thousands of scanned documents and bibliographic records relating to English activities in the American, Canadian, and West Indian colonies between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries.

What are the Colonial State Papers?

Colonial State Papers provides users with access to primary source documents from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. The earliest English settlements in North America, encounters with Native Americans, piracy in the Atlantic and Caribbean, the trade in slaves and English conflicts with the Spanish and French are all covered in this database.

Colonial State Papers integrates two research tools as one service:

  • Collection CO 1 from The National Archives, full name: Privy Council and related bodies: America and West Indies, Colonial Papers
  • The Calendar of State Papers, Colonial: North America and the West Indies 1574-1739

Bringing them together in this way combines the searchable metadata of the Calendar with the full-colour digital reproductions of the original CO 1 documents. All of the documents from CO 1, including a number of contemporary hand-drawn maps, have been reproduced as full-colour, high quality images digitised directly from the original documents. Users can search or browse the database and will be able to limit their view to just those records with images from CO 1 or expand it to include all documents recorded in the Calendar.

The National Archives collection CO 1 (full name - Privy Council and related bodies: America and West Indies, Colonial Papers) contains thousands of papers that were presented to the Privy Council and the Board of Trade between 1574-1757, and which relate to England's governance of, and activities in, the American, Canadian and West Indian colonies.

ProQuest's Colonial State Papers also includes digitised version of The Calendar of State Papers, Colonial: North America and the West Indies 1574-1739 - an essential bibliographic tool providing over 40,000 descriptive records. The Calendar covers not only CO 1, but also documents from many other collections relating to the colonial past. Many of the bibliographic entries in The Calendar of State Papers, Colonial: North America and the West Indies 1574-1739 are supplemented with full transcriptions, extracts or summary abstracts, all of which can be searched in Colonial State Papers.

Data for the Calendar of State Papers, Colonial: North America and the West Indies 1574-1739 has been provided, under license, by Routledge (part of the Taylor & Francis Group) from their CD ROM edition of the Calendar. This includes enhancements made to the original printed version of the Calendar, such as new cataloguing for volume CO 1/69 and regularisation of some dates.