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Early Encounters in North America: Home

Early Encounters in North America Brochure Cover

Painstakingly assembled from hundreds of sources, Early Encounters in North America: Peoples, Cultures, and the Environment documents the relationships among peoples in North America from 1534 to 1850. The collection focuses on personal accounts and provides unique perspectives from all of the protagonists, including traders, slaves, missionaries, explorers, soldiers, native peoples, and officials, both men and women. The project brings coherence to a wide range of published and unpublished accounts, including narratives, diaries, photographs, journals, and letters.


Mistippe Drawing


The variety of cultures in early North America was unprecedented. Dutch, English, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, African,and a host of Indian peoples developed a complex history of interactions. This collection allows scholars to see the effect of European cultures on Indians and equally to explore the Indians’ contributions to the Europeans. The collection shows, for example, the respect that Europeans had for Indian medicine. And it documents that the guerilla warfare practiced by the colonists during the American Revolution was used by Indians, a hundred years earlier, to counter European invaders.

Map of the West Coast Discovery

Local Studies

The “literature of place” unfolds through these narratives. Users interested in images can find quickly prints and maps pertaining to an area, thanks to a standardized vocabulary of geographic terms. So, for example, a search for material pertaining to Chicago will retrieve accounts of that city even before it was named. The level and detail of indexing let the user compare original descriptions of an area with the observations of those who followed

Image of Sea Creatures

Environmental Studies

Students of natural history will have instantaneous access to hundreds of years of recorded observations. Within the collection are thousands of descriptions of lands, fauna, and flora. In some cases these descriptions and drawings are now the only source we have for studying species that are extinct.


Early Encounters in North America Screenshot