Harvard Launches Website for Colonial North American Project

You can browse through the university's ongoing effort to digitize materials from the 17th and 18th centuries.

harvard colonial north american project

Harvard University photo via Shutterstock

Earlier this week, Harvard University unveiled the online component of its Colonial North American Project, unveiling a website with a searchable database of digitized 17th- and 18th-century materials from its collections.

The ongoing, multi-year project aims to continue digitizing documents that will reveal details about different aspects of life in the Colonial era—social life, education, trade, finance, politics, revolution, war, women, Native American life, slavery, science, medicine, and religion.

So far, the website presents 150,000 digital reproductions of diaries, journals, notebooks, and other rare documents, and the project is one-third complete, according to the Harvard Gazette.

“We’re bringing history alive,” Franziska Frey, the Malloy-Rabinowitz Preservation Librarian and head of Preservation and Digital Imaging Services, told the university publication.

Among the documents are materials related to John Hancock, who attended Harvard in the 18th century, and Professor John Winthrop, who taught at Harvard and was the great-great-great-grandson of the Massachusetts Bay Colony founder also named John Winthrop.

The archiving endeavor is accompanied by an exhibition, titled Opening New Worlds: The Colonial North American Project, which is on view at the Pusey Library at Harvard. Free and open to the public, it tackles the following themes: The Hancocks at Harvard; Politics in the Early Republic; Sermons, Religion, and Native Americans; and The Winthrops: Science, Mathematics, Working Women, and Family. It will remain on view through March 2016.