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.
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.
- is a valuable digital preservation repository for historical Canadian documents.
- 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.
- offers a help page with general Loyalist and Loyalist genealogy research.
- , 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.
- The Dictionary of Canadian Biography provides in-depth encyclopedic entries for many prominent Canadian individuals.
- New Brunswick Loyalist Journeys is a biographical story map produced by UNB Libraries.
- Biographical Sketches of Loyalists of the American Revolution by Lorenzo Sabine is available through archive.org.
Baptisms, marriages, burials, wills, census.
- The Provincial Archives of New Brunswick’s online databases: Early New Brunswick Probate (Wallace Hale) for content of documents from 1785-1840; Daniel F Johnson's New Brunswick Newspaper Vital Statistics; and Records of Old Revolutionary Soldiers and Their Widows”
- Nova Scotia Archives hosts early census returns and poll tax records online.
- Marianne Grey Otty Database: This index from UNB Libraries allows you to search baptismal, marriage, and death records kept by early travelling minsters in New Brunswick centred on Queens County, New Brunswick. (https://motty.lib.unb.ca/)
- “Find A Grave” (www.findagrave.com) to locate graves of individuals or family members in the American colonies or New Brunswick.
Canadian destinations of loyalist refugees.
- & Land Petitions: Original Series Database (Provincial Archives of New Brunswick) are searchable databases of land grants and petitions covering the loyalist settlement period.
- website includes digital and indexed items relating to Loyalists. The Nova Scotia Commissioner of Crown Lands fonds, Nova Scotia Land Papers, 1765-1800 are available online through the Nova Scotia Archives website; many loyalist grants were made when New Brunswick was still part of Nova Scotia.
- of the UELAC hosts muster rolls relevant to Prince Edward Island loyalists.
- Atlantic Canada Portal Virtual Archives features petitions relating to land grants in New Brunswick in which African Americans are either the petitioners, or the land granted to African Americans is the subject of attention. Contested Terrain: Aboriginal Land Petitions in New Brunswick, 1786-1878, features a digital collection of petitions relating to land grants in colonial New Brunswick, in which either Aboriginal people are the petitioners or their land is the subject of attention.
- Land Petitions of Upper Canada (1763-1865) – Index Only (Library and Archives Canada).
- Land Petitions of Lower Canada (1764 -1841) – Index plus Digitized Images (Library and Archives Canada).
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.
- provides reliable, high quality material on the Loyalists in the fields of military research, genealogy, and living history.
- , Library and Archives Canada, contain digitized muster rolls of Loyalists and their families.
- British Military and Naval Records: Use the index to locate individuals; consists of typed index cards available on Library and Archives Canada’s website.
Documents created by individuals or families.
- (originals held in UNB Archives & Special Collections) are available online. Edward Winslow mentions many loyalists in the extensive record he created during the period of major loyalist activity.
- The MacDonald Family Letters (1779-1801) virtual archive features ten letters written by John and Helen MacDonald between 1779 and 1801. Their correspondence offers a rare glimpse into the early settlement of St. John's Island (renamed Prince Edward Island in 1799).
- Loyalist Women in New Brunswick, 1783-1827, features diaries, letters, poems, reminiscences, and legal records relating to Loyalist women in colonial New Brunswick, including women in three generations of the Winslow family.
- Travels with Elizabeth Simcoe – A Visual Journey Through Upper and Lower Canada (Archives of Ontario) published book on archive.org.
- Gideon White Family Papers pertains to loyalists of Shelburne (Nova Scotia Archives).
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.
Maritime Provinces during the loyalist period.
- Newspapers @ UNB Libraries indexes the holdings of UNB Libraries microfilm newspapers as well as providing searchable, digital content through New Brunswick Historical Newspapers Online.
- Daniel F. Johnson's New Brunswick Newspaper Vital Statistics, Provincial Archives of New Brunswick website; nominal searches.
- Island Newspapers, UPEI, Robertson Library. Available freely online.
- Nova Scotia Digitized Historical Newspapers, Nova Scotia Archives. Available freely online.
- Vocabularies of Identity/ Vocabulaires Identitaires, “The evolution of collective identity in Acadian and Loyalist texts published in New Brunswick newspapers from 1880 to 1940” analyzes the evolution of collective identities in public discourse among Acadians and Loyalist descendants in New Brunswick at the end of the 19th century and in the first part of 20th century.
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.
Material related to the loyalist period.
- Spy Letters of the American Revolution (Clements Library, University of Michigan) from the Sir Henry Clinton collection.
- British North American Legislative Database, 1758-1867 includes characteristics of all the legislation passed by the pre-Confederation assemblies of eastern British North America: Nova Scotia (1758-1867); Cape Breton (1785-1820); Prince Edward Island (1768-1867); New Brunswick (1786-1867); Lower Canada (1792-1838); Upper Canada (1792-1840), the United Canadas (1841-1867); and Newfoundland (1832-1867).
- Reports of Cases in the Vice Admiralty of the Province of New York and the Court of Admiralty of the State of New York, 1715-1788, edited by Charles Merrill is available digitally and contains primary source material with an emphasis on prize cases.
- "Spoils of War: Privateering in Nova Scotia" is a site hosted by the Nova Scotia Archives featuring digital primary material and list of secondary sources.
- Early Modern Maritime Recipes examines recipes circulating before 1800 in print and manuscript in the area now defined as Canada's Maritime provinces. Early modern recipe writing focused on food and medicine, but recorded a range of other practices associated with alchemy, cosmetics, veterinary, medicine, and laundry, amongst other things.
The following blogs contain posts with useful contextual information for loyalist research.
- Atlantic Loyalist Connections shares research experiences involving The Loyalist Collection and relations within the British colonial Atlantic world.
- The Junto: A Group Blog on Early American History.
- Borealia : A Group Blog on Early Canadian History.
- offers historical analysis of "TURN: Washington’s Spies", a television drama about spies of the American Revolution.
- : "History, analysis, and unabashed gossip about the start of the American Revolution in Massachusetts."
- Acadiensis a forum for historians of Atlantic Canada to share their ideas and thoughts about Atlantic Canadian history and methods with each other and the public at large.
- : A HistorioBLOG.
- , New Jersey.
- : The Unwritten Rules of History. See particularly “A Guide to Online Resources for Teaching and Learning Loyalist History”
- : A Group Blog of British and Irish Global History.
Leah Grandy holds a PhD in History and works as a Microforms Assistant at the Harriet Irving Library.
SUBJECTS: research skills, loyalist, digital