American Archives

About This Site

Beginning in 1837 the printer Peter Force, who also served as mayor of Washington, D.C., devoted sixteen years to collecting thousands of pamphlets, booklets, and newspaper articles pertaining to the "Origin, Settlement, and Progress of the Colonies in North America" from the Revolutionary Era in order to preserve them for future generations. He published them in a set of nine large volumes that he called the American Archives. By the late twentieth century Force's collection of materials from the years 1774-6 had become a valuable scholarly resource, as it contained the only surviving copies of many important documents. But while a number of large research libraries around the world held the American Archives in their collections, it remained an underused resource. Scholars and students alike struggled with Force's unwieldy index and complicated organization of the materials. In 2001 Northern Illinois University Libraries and Professor Allan Kulikoff of the University of Georgia received grant funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support the digitization of the American Archives and their presentation in a free-use World Wide Web site. This site will allow its users to use sophisticated search and indexing software to explore Force's volumes. Professor Kulikoff has also produced a thematic indexing scheme describing the contents of every individual text in the American Archives collection. Together, these tools will offer scholars, students, and lifetime learners with unprecedented new access to these important primary source materials from American history.

To read a more in-depth description of how to use the American Archives site and printed resource, please see this article.

Detailed Description

Peter Force, printer and document collector, intended to publish rare pamphlets, correspondence, and proceedings relating to the "Origin, Settlement, and Progress of the Colonies in North America" that covered the time period 1763-1789. After years of work, the final (but unfinished) result was 9 volumes of material covering the years 1774-1776. Since this material is of extreme importance to scholars of the Revolutionary War period, and is collected in this one source, Northern Illinois University Libraries received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities in order to provide free electronic access to Force's American Archives. Through the use of sophisticated indexing and searching software provided by the University of Chicago, as well as the thematic indexing of this material by a subject expert (Allan Kulikoff, Abraham Baldwin Professor of the Humanities at the University of Georgia), this project is able to provide a uniquely new way to access these documents.


This project would not have been possible without the support of many institutions and individuals. We would like to thank the following for their support:


Project Director
Drew E. VandeCreek

Subject Expert, Indexer
Allan Kulikoff

Technology Coordinator
Stacey Erdman 

Research Associate
Anitha Paruchuri
Brian Conant

Graphic Designer
Charles Larry

Database Consultants, University of Chicago
Catherine Mardikes
Mark Olsen

Graduate Assistants
Jerry Molnar (Fall 2005-present)
Matt Dotson (Spring 2004-Spring 2005)
Vishnu Kouluri (Fall 2003-Spring 2004)

Student Employees

Kavita Adatia (Summer 2005-Fall 2005)
Niranjan Arravelly (Spring 2004-Fall 2004)
Marjorie Askins (Summer 2004, Summer 2005)
Michael Barton (Summer 2005)
Megan Berndt (Spring 2005)
Jeff Burr (Fall 2003)
Srikanth Dandotkar (Spring 2004-Summer 2004)
Matt Dotson (Fall 2003)
Iesha Drayton (Fall 2005-Spring 2005)
Amanda Graham (Summer 2004)
Suzanne Gorgas (Summer 2003)
Shavon Hampton (Spring 2004)
Stephanie Kohl (Spring 2004-Fall 2004)
Prashanti Koka (Fall 2003-Fall 2004)
David Lewis (Summer 2003-Summer 2004)
Christina Majerowicz (Summer 2004-Fall 2004)
Melissa Mott (Fall 2005-Spring 2005)
Deepti Musunuru (Fall 2003)
Beth Schrader (Fall 2004-Spring 2005)
Nicole Simon (Fall 2003)
Sarah Stepanek (Fall 2003)
Murali Uppalluri (Spring 2004-Fall 2004)
Chris Wood (Summer 2003)

Former Technology Coordinator
Tara L. Dirst 
(January 1999 - April 2007)


For general questions about the site, please email Drew VandeCreek

For technical problems with the site, please e-mail Matthew Short.

For questions on the 1774-76 era, Peter Force's American Archives, and the themes and content of the Archives, contact Allan Kulikoff, Subject Expert and Indexer.