Works published in the United States before 1923 are said to be in the public domain and may therefore legally be reproduced, republished and distributed in any form. Fortunately there are many institutions with the resources, either onsite or cooperatively, to not only digitize the original material, but also to provide the platform for entire web-accessible digital libraries. These may be academic institutions (such as University of Nebraska-Lincoln's "Digital Commons"), government agencies ("American Memory" from Library of Congress), cooperative non-profit ventures (Internet Archive or Project Gutenberg), or,as in the case of Google Books, a commercial enterprise adding value to its signature product.
Using the aforementioned digital repositories, I have located some of the primary source documents that are most frequently referenced here at the museum, in relation to early Native-colonial interactions in Southern New England. In doing so, I have found it best to diversify the search across several different sites, as you will encounter gaps in one collection that will be made up for in another. Also, learning the differences in user interfaces across different platforms reveal some to be more useful than others, depending on your personal search habits and expectations. For example, while keyword searching across titles is a common feature to all, Google Books has the advantage of results returned in a general Google search; and the Internet Archive and Project Gutenberg texts are described with Library of Congress Subject Headings for those accustomed to searching by these headings in library catalogs.
Another feature to look for and take advantage of is the availability of full text keyword searching. I recently used this feature to find a reference to Cantantowit, a figure in Algonquin folklore, which was remembered to be mentioned in the Roger Williams' A Key Into the Language of America- but where? We found it much more quickly by searching the digital text, than we would have thumbing through pages. Note that some PDF documents are not searchable, so alternatively look for an ASCII text version (ASCII documents can be opened in common desktop applications like Microsoft Word or Notepad).
The following is a list of primary source documents available online which directly support the focus of the Mashantucket Pequot Research Library, selected from a representative sample of different hosting sites. Of course, all of these sites may be used to broaden the scope to other topics in Amercian History, or other fields of study.
- Willams, Roger. A Key Into the Language of America. (1643)
- Hubbard, William. A Narrative of the Troubles with the Indians in New-England, from the First Planting Thereof ... to this Present Year 1677 ... To which is added a discourse about the warre with the Pequods in the year 1637 (1814, originally published in 1677)
(Compare with: http://www.archive.org/details/narrativeofindia00hubb)
- Higginson, Francis. New-England’s Plantation. (originally published 1630)
(Compare with: http://www.archive.org/details/newenglandsplant00higgrich )
- Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut. The Rumored Indian Plot of 1669.
- Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut. Laws for the Pequots, 1675.
- Vincent, Philip. A True Relation of the Late Battell fought in New England, between the English, and the Salvages: With the present state of things there. (1637)
- Underhill, John. Newes from America; Or, A New and Experimentall Discoverie of New England; Containing, A True Relation of Their War-like Proceedings These Two Yeares Last Past, with a Figure of the Indian Fort, or Palizado. (1638)
- Mason, John. A Brief History of the Pequot War. (Written ca. 1670, published posthumously in 1736)
- Gardener, Lion. Relation of the Pequot Warres. (1660)
- Apess, William. Indian Nullification of the Unconstitutional Laws of Massachusetts Relative to the Marshpee Tribe Or, the Pretended Riot Explained. (1835)
Sources consulted in the creation of this article
Stanford University Libraries - CopyRight and Fair Use Overview. Chapter 8: Public Domain
Repositories of Primary Sources
How the Open Source Movement Has Changed Education: 10 Success Stories
Digital Commons at University of Nebraska - Lincoln
The Colonial Connecticut Records Project