Browse Primary Sources
Locate primary sources, including images, objects, media, and texts. Annotations by scholars contextualize sources.
Abbot Suger, On What Was Done In His Administration (De administratione), 1144–1148
In the later 1140s, Abbot Suger of the Royal Abbey of Saint Denis, outside Paris, wrote an account of his extensive project to rebuild and redecorate his abbey church.
Map of the Treaty of Fort Stanwix, 1768
In 1768, Sir William Johnson received permission from the British Crown to hold a treaty council with the Iroquois Confederacy and its dependents in order to establish a more official and lasting boundary line without French pressures. A clear boundary line between the Indians and Europeans would prevent colonial encroachments on Indian lands and minimize violence between the two parties.
Excerpts from the Treaty of Logg's Town (1752)
As French and British powers jostled for dominance in the Ohio Country, both courted the Six Nations and their allies. The Six Nations held sway and power over mass amounts of territory—territory that French and British interests wished to control. British colonies had already attempted to secure much land from the Six Nations through treaties.
Invoice of goods shipped from New Orleans to Matamoros, Mexico in 1847
This image is of an invoice of items shipped from an English firm in New Orleans, Thorn & McGrath, to José San Román in Matamoros, Mexico. It consists primarily of men’s clothing. Studying this invoice gives us a significant insight into how European networks drew the local into the global.
Francois Guilbeau letter on Loredo trade
This source is a favor letter, one of the most common forms of communication among merchants along the Rio Grande in the nineteenth century. This is a longer form of that type of letter, but they all share a general format that includes letting the recipient know that their payment (favor) was received, how much remained on the account, and current market conditions.
Chinese Junk, early 18th century
Junks encompass a range of different ships that were essential for maritime trade in East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Indian Ocean for centuries. Original junks built in China were likely inspired by the design of ships visiting Chinese ports from Austronesia and Southeast Asian archipelagos.
A Naval Encounter between Dutch and Spanish Warships
Spanish galleons were large ships specifically built to carry a huge amount of cargo across the vast distances of the Spanish maritime empire. The Manila Galleon Trade is a common topic in world history courses and represents the first truly global trade in world history. The manila galleons, specifically, could reach over 160ft in length.
Balclutha was built in 1886 on the River Clyde near Glasgow, Scotland, for Robert McMillan, a Glaswegian shipbuilder who occasionally owned ships as a side-business.
As of the beginning of 2021, the Algeciras class is the largest container vessel in the world, able to carry nearly 24,000 TEU (twenty-foot long containers). It is constructed by Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering and owned by Hyundai Merchant Marine.
The Selden Map held by the Bodleian Library in Oxford, where it has been kept since 1659. This beautifully illustrated manuscript map shows East and Southeast Asia and marks maritime trading routes in the form of lines across the region. It was made in the first half of the seventeenth century somewhere in East or Southeast Asia.
Guang yutu map
The map of the “South-Eastern ocean barbarians” from the 1568 edition of the atlas Guang yutu. This atlas is divided into two parts, the first one deals with the geography of China, the second one with the Chinese borderlands, thematic maps, and maps of non-Chinese regions. This map shows the coast of China surrounded by many islands, all shaped more or less in the same way.
Excerpts from the Treaty of Fort Stanwix (1768)
After decades of skirmishing and cold-war jostling, tensions between Great Britain and France all across the globe finally came to a head in the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763). Indians were central players in the war, however many indigenous on both sides were concerned about the futures of themselves and their lands since the war ended with French cessions of their claims in North America.
Excerpts from the Treaty of Lancaster (1744)
With the threat of war with France looming on the horizon, the English colonies treated with the Iroquois Confederacy to determine a clearer boundary line between Indian lands and the western edges of the English colonies in pursuit of peace. The Treaty of Lancaster (1744) established the line at the eastern foot of the Shenandoah Mountains.
Excerpts from the Treaty of Albany (1722)
By the mid-18th century, the Iroquois Confederacy was a significant sovereign power and the main physical buffer between the English colonies in the northeast (New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, and New England) and French settlements around the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.
Southern Manchuria Railway (1906-1945)
The world’s earliest locomotive-operated railroads, short stretches transporting coal and ore locally from mines to factories and furnaces, were developed in Britain between 1800 and 1825. Soon the potential for transporting all kinds of goods as well as passengers became apparent, and by the 1830s railways were also being built in France, Prussia and the United States.
Akan Gold-Weight in the Shape of the Sankofa Bird
These intricate figurines, made by skilled West African smiths, were measuring instruments central to world flows of capital and commerce through medieval and early modern times.
Emmerton Letter, 1926
Between 1919 and 1935, citizens of the U.S. and Canada complained about industrial pollution from an American company called the Solvay Process Company (also called the Michigan Alkali Corporation), which dumped its wastes on Fighting Island, in the Detroit River. The island is in the United States, but the boundary line runs past it through the Detroit River.
View of the Coffee Plantation Marienbosch in Surinam
This painting is a view of the Marienbosch coffee plantation along the banks of the Commewijne River in the Dutch colony of Surinam (present-day Suriname). Alongside coffee, the plantation also produced cotton and cocoa. The artist, Willem de Klerk, never visited Surinam. Instead, he based this painting on a drawing made by Alexander Ludwich Brockmann.
Copra Production in the Dutch East Indies
This photograph, taken by Onnes Kurkdjian, depicts men and women preparing copra in the Dutch East Indies in the early twentieth century. Copra is dried coconut kernels. Once sufficiently dried, laborers then crush the copra to expel its valuable coconut oil. The extracted oil is used for a variety of different products, such as soaps and cosmetics.
Coffee Production in the Dutch East Indies
This is a page from an educational print for children called Gambar-Gambar akan Peladjaran dan Kasoekaän Anak-anak dan Iboe-bapanja (Prints for the Benefit and Pleasure of Young and Old). The collection of prints, totaling 24 pages, depict various aspects of Indonesian life under Dutch colonial rule in the late nineteenth century.