Thursday, August 8, 2013

Reveling in Research

Anyone who aspires to write accurate historical fiction lives and dies by research. I’m especially thrilled when I run across firsthand accounts from the period or histories written not long afterward that contain information you can’t find anywhere else.

While doing research, I regularly run across fascinating sources that have provided those little details and insights that make my stories not only factually accurate, but also lend social and cultural authenticity.

The following are a few of the sources I’ve lucked upon, a few of them pretty obscure, but all very helpful and a few that had me jumping up and down when I found them. Thank goodness nobody was around to witness that!

Many of these are PDF or ebook downloads. Some are specifically concerned with the French and Indian War, but as soon as I have time I'm going to post those that are relevant to the entire colonial period and/or to the American Revolution on my American Patriot Series blog and website as links and/or PDF or Word doc downloads.

Colonial Medicine and Herbs

Colonial Herbs, Miller Cory House Museum

“Colonial Medicine,” the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation

“The Practice of Domestic Medicine During the Colonial Period” by L. G. Eichner, MD


Coffee, Tea, and Chocolate in Early Colonial America

Colonial Recipes

Food Timeline


These contain fabulous detail!

Orderly Book of Captain William Trent at Fort Pitt, May 28-October 16, 1763

“Fort Northkill,” Report of the Commission to Locate the Site of the Frontier Forts of Pennsylvania, vol. 1. (Clarence M. Busch State Printer of Pennsylvania, 1896) This site also offers information on many of the other western Pennsylvania forts.

French and Indian War

War for Empire

French and Indian Cruelty Exemplified in the Life and various Vicissitudes of Fortune, of Peter Williamson by Peter Williamson. (French & Indian War)


Stories of Ohio by William Dean Howells (1897). This covers the earliest history of Ohio through the late 1800s.

Historical Calendars, Sun, Moon, and Tide Data

Miscellany  Historical Calendars

Sun and Moon Data

Tides and Currents, NOAA  Offers a great deal of info on currents and tides, and data can be found for recent years and predictions for near future.


Extremely helpful for us 18th century lovers!

“A Guide to Eighteenth-century English Vocabulary” by Jack Lynch, 2006

Online Etymology Dictionary If you need to know whether a word was in common usage during a certain period and what it meant at that time, this is your site!


“A Father’s Legacy to His Daughters” by the Late Dr. Gregory of Edinburgh (1774) Since the formatting on this free file is a mess, I went ahead and posted a reformatted, downloadable PDF on my American Patriot Series blog. Other downloads will follow on that page asap.


If you love maps, here are some to add to your collection.

Fortifications on the Pennsylvania Frontier in 1756, illustrated by Justin Blocksom, based on the information given in the book The Indian Wars of Pennsylvania, by C. Hale Stipe

“Mapping Pennsylvania’s Western Frontier in 1756,” The Pennsylvania Magazine [PDF download]

Maps, Etc.

Library of Congress


Cost of Living in Colonial Times, The First Foot Guards

Native Americans

“Riding Gear of the North American Indians,” by Clark Wissler, Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History, Vol. XVII (1915). Includes other sections specifically on the Plains Indians as well as a list of contents for a couple of previous volumes.

Sailing Ships

Ahoy, matey, great info here!

Anatomy of an English Man of War. Also pirates, terminology, navigation, ship and sailing info and numerous other subjects. Terrific site!


Nautical Terms  And so much more!

Ranks and Duties in the Royal Navy ca. 1790