Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Doing Research

Plan of Fort Pitt, 1759
I posted this on my Northkill blog a while back, and thought the readers of this blog might find it helpful too.

I’m sure you all know that anyone who aspires to write accurate historical fiction lives and dies by research. While digging into a period, 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. I’m especially thrilled when I find firsthand accounts from the period or histories written not long afterward that contain tidbits of information I haven’t found elsewhere.

Below are a few of the many sources I’ve lucked upon. They run the gamut of topics, and a few of them pretty obscure. But all are very helpful and a few even had me jumping up and down when I found them. Thank goodness nobody was around to witness that loss of writerly dignity!

The PDF and ebook downloads can also be found on my American Patriot Series website on the Print & Media Resources page. In a few cases I reformatted the text to make it easier to read.

I hope these are helpful for your own research!

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)

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.


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 Offers a great deal of info on currents and tides. 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!


If you love maps, you’ll find many on these sites to add to your collection
Maps, Etc.

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

Library of Congress


I reformatted this one for ease of reading, and you'll find it on my website. It actually contains some pretty wise counsel.

“A Father’s Legacy to His Daughters” by the Late Dr. Gregory of Edinburgh (1774)


Cost of Living in Colonial Times, The First Foot Guards

Sailing Ships

Ahoy, matey, great info here for the sailors and pirates among us!

Anatomy of an English Man of War This site also includes info on 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

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