Remote Research: Selected Online Resources for Loyalist History

In pandemic days, more and more research has been pushed to online, accessible sources. With this shift in mind, we have created a list of some of the best online resources to use in loyalist research.  If you know of other resources, please drop us a line to pass them along.

Happy researching!

keyboard loyalists
(Credit: Leah Grandy, UNB Libraries)

General

General sites useful in many research projects.

  • Archive.org (Internet Archives) has many useful out of print and early historical works on communities and families in the American colonies freely available and digitally searchable.  A search of the place of origin and surname of your subject using this resource is recommended.
  • Canadiana is a valuable digital preservation repository for historical Canadian documents.
  • United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada Loyalist Directory lists what loyalists have been proven by the Association members, and sometimes provides basic information.  Also, with a new project from Brock University,  Loyalist Migrations, visualizes the migrations of thousands of Loyalist families. Research provided by the United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada.
  • British Headquarters Papers, New York (or Carleton Papers) are digitally indexed on Library and Archives Canada’s website. The series includes a variety of documents about loyalist soldiers and civilian refugees (both white and black people) but also about people who were on Manhattan Island or the adjacent mainland dominated by the British during the American Revolution, as well as many British and German soldiers who settled in Canada later and also some patriots.
  • Journal of the American Revolution is an open access, electronic publication with frequent research articles.
  • Library and Archives Canada offers a help page with general Loyalist and Loyalist genealogy research.
  • Fort Havoc, contains digital documents and transcripts of material concerning the American Revolution and United Empire Loyalists collected by R. Wallace Hale hosted on the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick website.
  • The David Rumsey Map Collection has a robust selection of digitized maps which include many from the American Revolutionary period.

Biography

Vital Statistics

Baptisms, marriages, burials, wills, census.

Land Records

Canadian destinations of loyalist refugees.

Military & Muster Rolls

Muster rolls, which were administrative records for recording, which soldiers and sometimes settlers were in a particular place at a certain time, can be very valuable in researching loyalists.

Private Papers

Documents created by individuals or families.

Loyalist Claims

One of the most important types of documents in loyalist research are those in which loyalists requested compensation post-war from the British government through the Loyalist Claims Commission.

  • Library and Archives Canada has a nominal index available on reel C-9821.
  • If you have an Ancestry.com subscription, the American Loyalist Claims, 1776-1835 may be searched.
  • Maryland Loyalism Project has scanned, transcribed, and made searchable claims from Maryland loyalists as well as entries from the Book of Negroes relating to former residents of Maryland.

Newspapers

Maritime Provinces during the loyalist period.

Black Loyalist History

Black Loyalists, enslaved peoples, and the African Diaspora.

  • “Black Loyalist” focuses on historical data about the African-American loyalist refugees recorded in the Book of Negroes.
  • The Black Loyalists Digital Collections explores the Black Loyalist experience in Canada.
  • Black Loyalist Heritage Society (Birchtown, Nova Scotia).
  • Black Loyalist Refugees, 1782-1807- Port Roseway Associates (Library and Archives Canada).
  • African Nova Scotians by the Nova Scotia Archives contains two sites of interest:  1. African Nova Scotian Diaspora contains digitised and searchable records relating to early immigration and emigration, reflecting the experiences of Black Refugees who came at the end of the War of 1812; and 2. African Nova Scotians includes a variety of types of documents with a searchable database of those who came between the years 1783 to 1816.
  • Remembering Black Loyalists, Black Communities in Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Museum.
  • The Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Americas provides images related to the American slave trade and slave societies, and includes a searchable database as well as eighteen browsable themes. Each of the images contains an accompanying write up.
  • Digital Library on American Slavery contains three sites of interest:  1. Race and Slavery Petitions Project contains information pertaining to slaves, slaveholders and free blacks extracted from different state legislative petitions and county court petitions, as well as from of other types of documents; 2. North Carolina Runaway Slave Advertisements provides online access to all known runaway slave advertisements published in North Carolina newspapers from 1751 to 1840, providing a "glimpse into the social, economic, and cultural world of the American slave system and the specific experience within North Carolina"; and 3. The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database which includes information on over 35,000 slave voyages between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries.
  • The Geography of Slavery in Virginia contains a comprehensive digital collection of advertisements for runaway and captured slaves and servants from newspapers in Virginia and Maryland, covering the years from 1736 through 1803.  Access is available through a seachable database as well as by browsing the ads by date of publication or by place names mentioned.  Also contains browsable listings of transcribed selected documents under these categories:  1. Official Records - Virginia Laws, 1660-1789; County Records from Accomack, Augusta, Essex and Richmond counties, 1751-1785; and the legal case pertaining to the runaway Simon Howell, 1770; 2. Newspaper Materials from the Maryland Gazette and Virginia Gazette providing articles about slaves and slaveholders, 1750-1773; and 3. Slaveholder's Records - Carter Family Correspondence, 1738-9, 1763-91; and Charles Yates Letterbook, 1773-1780.
  • Legacies of British Slave-ownership contains a database searchable by slave-owner or an individual related professionally or personally to a slave-owner.  It can be used as an index to slave compensation returns in Treasury 71 (T71).
  • Sierra Leone Collection, University of Illinois at Chicago. The collection consists of primary documents related to the British administration of Sierra Leone, including public and private papers of British officials in the colony of Sierra Leone, 1792-1825.

Other

Material related to the loyalist period.

Blogs

The following blogs contain posts with useful contextual information for loyalist research.

 

Leah Grandy holds a PhD in History and works as a Microforms Assistant at the Harriet Irving Library.

 

SUBJECTS: research skills, loyalist, digital

 

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