New York State History – Colonial Period

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Listed in Land Records, Maps & Geography, Indigenous, American Indian Wars, Government & Legal, American Revolutionary War, Histories & Stories, Letters & Manuscript Collections, Libraries & Museums & Archives


New York State History – Colonial Period is a group of digital collections at the New York State Library. “The collection includes muster rolls of colonial troops, accounts of explorers, land purchase agreements, correspondence of early settlers, orderly books, diaries, maps, records of Rensselaerwyck Manor, colonial laws, documents of New Netherland, histories of the French and Indian War, accounts of relations with Native Americans, and personal papers such as those of Sir William Johnson.”

Use the side-bar menu to search these collections as a guest at the New York State Library.

The free, searchable collections include:

  • Agreement for the Purchase of Indian Lands, 1697 October: “This is an agreement for the purchase of land at Ramapo, Rockland County (New York) between Blandina Bayard and the following Native Americans: Zerickham, Mettissiena, Eghkenem, Onarkommagh, Kraghkon, Saeuwapigh Kim, and Nanawaron.”
  • Annual Report of the State Historian: “In 1895, Governor Morton appointed a state historian, whose duties were “to collect … edit, and prepare for publication all official records … and data, relative to the colonial wars, war of the revolution, war of 1812, Mexican war and war of the rebellion.” The 1st Annual Report (1895), 2nd Annual Report (1896) and 3rd Annual Report (1897) were digitized from volumes in the State Library’s collection. Volume 1 of the Colonial Muster Rolls for 1664-1760 can be found in Appendix H of the 2nd Annual Report. Volume II of the Colonial Muster Rolls for 1664-1760 can be found in Appendix M of the 3rd Annual Report. An index of names contained in the Colonial Muster Rolls can be found on pages 899-1130 of the 3rd Annual Report.”
  • Champlain and the French in New York: “A short publication by William G. Tyrrell on the history of Samuel De Champlain and the French in New York State.”
  • Contract of Sale of Land Along the Hudson River From the Mahican Indians to Kiliean Van Rensselaer, 6 August 1630:  “This document is a copy of an original parchment copy of the land title that established the Colony of Rensselaerwyck within the province of New Netherland.  It relates to the patroonship plan of colonization, under the auspices of the West India Company, that allowed an investor, called a patroon (lord of manor), to negotiate with natives for a tract upon which he was obligated to settle 50 colonists at his own expense. The patroon was granted complete jurisdictional rights and could hold the land in perpetual fief of inheritance with the right to dispose of colony by last will and testament. Kiliaen van Rensselaer became the first patroon of Rensselaerwyck. The lands in the conveyance comprised much of present Albany and Rensselaer counties of New York State. Peter Minuit, Director General of New Netherland, signed this document along with others on the governing council.  The original document is in Dutch; an English translation by A.J.F. van Laer with revisions by Charles Gehring is included with the original.”
  • Conveyance, 1761, October 1: “This document certifies the conveyance of title to a certain tract of land held by John Klein to John Jones. The tract of land was situated at the time in Albany County, New York, being north of the Mohawk River and between two creeks “called George Creek and Caicharon or Canida Creek.” The land was granted to Klein and others by settlers patent in 1760.”
  • Correspondence of Maria van Rensselaer, 1669-1689:  “This volume was translated and edited by A.J.F. van Laer and published by University of the State of New York in 1935.  Maria van Rensselaer was the wife of Jeremias van Rensselaer.  After her husband’s death, she carried on a regular correspondence with her husband’s youngest brother, Richard van Rensselaer, in regard to the administration of Rensselaerwyck.  The volume also contains correspondence between Maria and her brother, Stephanus van Cortlandt, and other members of the Van Cortlandt family.”
  • Letter to Spencer Phips, 1750 December 18: “This is a digital copy of a letter that Governor George Clinton wrote to Governor Spencer Phips of Massachusetts proposing that all the colonial governors assemble in Albany for the purpose of meeting with the Six Nations of Indians to attempt to end the influence of the French on the Indians.  The letter was written at Fort George in New York City.”
  • A Letter to the Freemen and Freeholders of the City of New-York: Relating to the Approaching Election of Their Representatives. Wherein the Several Papers That Have Lately Appeared on the Subject of Politicks, Are Briefly Considered: the Conduct of the Authors Exposed, and the Controversy Represented in its True Light: “”The pamphlet was signed “Feb. 10, 1752, A Lover of Liberty.”  It was printed and sold by J. Parker at the New Printing Office Beaver-Street New York in 1752.  Bound with this pamphlet is a second pamphlet, “An Answer to a Pamphlet, Entitled, A Letter to the Freemen and Freeholders Of the City of New-York. Wherein Is Fully Shown, the True Causes Of the Defection Of the Six Nations Of Indians; With Some Historical Collections Never Yet Made Publick.”  This second pamphlet is “By a Contemner [sic] of Licentiousness” and was also printed and sold by J. Parker in New York in 1752.”
  • Orderly Books, 1759-1760, 1762:  “These are the orderly books of Captain Amos Hitchcock’s Connecticut provincial companies during the French and Indian War.  The orderly books are the companies’ official record of all military orders, and include courts martial, disciplinary actions, and promotions.  The volumes also provide a record of troop movements in northern New York and Canada and encampments at Albany, Fort Edward, Lake George, Crown Point, and Fort Ontario.”
  • Papers of Sir William Johnson:  “In his official capacity as Indian agent or military officer, Sir William Johnson corresponded with people from all walks of life. His papers, covering the time period of 1738-1808, form an invaluable source of information on the political, military, social and agricultural history of the period. (As Johnson had died in 1774, the few papers we have for those years relate to matters with which his relatives were connected.) The 14 volume set that has been digitized is the most comprehensive source of printed transcripts from the original manuscripts.”
  • Sir William Johnson and the Indians of New York: “This booklet was published by the Office of State History, New York State Education Department, in 1967. The foreward notes that “There is a vast literature dealing with Indian and white relations, but little of it is readily and easily accessible to teachers, students, and general readers. To bring together the main points of this exciting and vivid history, Dr. Milton W. Hamilton has written this booklet on Sir William Johnson and the Indians. As trader, Indian agent, soldier, and Superintendent of Indian Affairs, Johnson was a key figure in the Indian story. He is as important for his great work during the momentous events of the 18th century as for his ability to understand the Indians and to work well with them … To tell this significant story of Johnson and the Indians, Dr. Hamilton drew extensively on the 13 volumes of the Sir William Johnson Papers.””
  • Patent for the Manor of Rensselaerwyck: “This is a copy of the original manuscript, from November 5, 1685.  This document confirmed the right of the former Dutch colony known as Rensselaerwyck to continue its existence under the suzerainty of the British Crown. The boundaries were clearly defined and included all of the lands originally granted to Rensselaerwyck in 1630 as a colony under the jurisdiction of New Netherland, with the exception of lands reserved for the settlement called Albany and special right away connecting said settlement on the Hudson River to the Mohawk River.  Many of the feudal rights and privileges of the Patroon were reconfirmed too, excepting the legislative and judicial powers held under Dutch authority. The document was signed and sealed by Thomas Dongan, Governor of the Colony of New York.”
  • A Set of Plans and Forts in America, Reduced From Actual Survey: “This volume was published in 1763 in London.  The author is John Rocque. The volume consists of 30 maps of forts in America, such as Fort William Henry and the Redoubts at Crown Point.  The volume also includes a “Map of the British Dominions in North America according to the Treaty of 1763.” “




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