British Pamphlets Relating to the American Revolution : 1764 - 1783.

Call Number: HIL-MICL FC LSC .G7P3A4R4
Category: Special Collections
Description: 49 microfilm textual records () ; 35 mm
            The definition of a pamphlet for this work was taken from the Oxford English Dictionary:  "treatise usually occupying fewer sheets than a book but composed, and printed, as a separate work and generally issued unbound .... it is a treatise on a subject of current interest, whether personal, social, political, ecclesiastical or controversial, on which the writer desires to appeal to the public."  

Pamphlets are among the oldest printed literary forms in which controversial ideas have been presented. Adams in The American Controversy states of the British pamphlet press: "Of all the political debates in the pamphlet press between 1763 and 1783, America occupied the largest place accounting for 30 per cent of the pamphlets published. During the 5 parliamentary years, 1773-78 it accounted for 60 per cent."

British Pamphlets Relating to the American Revolution : 1764-1783, is one of several titles in the series, British Records Relating to America in Microform, which are published under the auspices of the British Association for American Studies by Microform Limited.


This collection, selected from those listed in Thomas R. Adams' The American Controversy, is a copy of every available British and Irish pamphlet that concerns the American Revolution and wherein disputes about America were debated, whether complete or partial works, or with scattered references within a work, and was printed in Great Britain between 1 January 1764 and 31 December 1783. In addition broadsides that conform to the content definition, parliamentary speeches that were published for outside readers, and public reports and papers were included. Also included are: fast sermons, preached on the six fast days proclaimed between 1776 and 1782 because of the troubles in America; poetry published in pamphlet form that entirely or partly deal with the American controversy; and satirical works, which add an additional dimension.

Adams states: "As the controversy grew in America, the issues that arose touched almost every theme debated in the pamphlet press." The editors of the microfilm edition further add within the pamphlets "can be found examples of a multitude of interests: imperial organisation, grand strategy, civil and political liberty, morality, ecclesiastical organisation, economics, diplomacy and personal reputation." To further summarise, the subject matter covers: Britain - North American colonies; American Revolution; politics; the press; imperialism; religion - addresses, churches, Catholics, Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, religious discourse, fasting, law, missions, morality, natives, politics, prayers and sermons; literature; military; and government - administration, finances and taxation, relations. (For more information pertaining to religion, see Electronic Finding Aid section below).

Arrangement: The order is chronological by year of publication and alphabetical within each year by author or corporate entity, or title if anonymous. Each pamphlet is preceded, in the microfilm, by a target card which contains brief details of title, authorship and publication. For full bibliographic information, users should refer to The American Controversy.

Originals: The original records are held in libraries in Great Britain, United States and Canada.
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Finding Aids:

A printed guide, British Pamphlets of the American Revolution 1764-1783, accompanies the microfilm collection and contains a detailed introduction and four indexes to the material on microfilm. This guide provides a document number, author, title, and number for each pamphlet from The American Controversy.

A Microfilm Shelf list which contains the Library's microfilm reel numbers, pamphlet item numbers, and dates has been created. This is available in print and as an electronic finding aid, see below.

Online: See Electronic Finding Aid section below for Religion in the British Pamphlets which provides subjects, document numbers, reel numbers, and a brief description of content.

Electronic Finding Aid Record: Microfilm Shelf List. British Pamphlets.pdf
Religion in the British Pamphlets.pdf

Certain categories of material that are listed in The American Controversy have been omitted from the microfilm publication and include: pamphlets relating to the West Indies; those that concern the domestic affairs of a particular colony, except for Quebec which is included; all periodical literature; and pamphlets relating to trade.

Researchers may wish to consult the following resources:

  • Adams, Thomas R. The American Controversy; A Bibliographical Study of the British Pamphlets About the American Disputes, 1764-1783. Providence: Brown University Press, 1980.
  • Evans, Charles. American Bibliography; A Chronological Dictionary of all Books, Pamphlets, and Periodical Publications Printed in the United States from the Genesis of Printing in 1639 Down To and Including the Year 1820, with Bibliographical and Biographical Notes. New York: Peter Smith, 1941-1959.
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