Territorial Papers of the United States, 1764-1953
Documenting a nation’s inexorable and dramatic expansion

Quick Facts

  • The most important early American content not yet digitized—until now
  • The history of more than half of America’s states when they were still territories
  • A crucial resource for anyone seeking to understand the formation of modern-day America


More than half of America’s states began as territories. From the 1760s to the 1950s the United States of America expanded southward and westward, acquiring territories that spanned from Florida to California to Alaska. Before they evolved into twenty-seven American states, these territories were managed by the U.S. State and Interior departments. The official history of their formative territorial years is recorded in the “Territorial Papers of the United States”—a collection of Native American negotiations and treaties, official correspondence with the federal government, military records, judicial proceedings, population data, financial statistics, land records, and more. For the first time, the Territorial Papers are available in a digital online collection, offering unparalleled research opportunities for anyone interested in the creation of modern-day America.

Never before digitized records from the American frontier
Until now, researchers who wanted to explore the rich history captured in the Territorial Papers were forced to dig through a multitude of disparate collections at the National Archives, or were resigned to using a 28-volume collection of transcribed records that left out nearly 98% of the original source material. By contrast, Readex’s Territorial Papers contains the entire corpus of the official papers held by the Departments of State and Interior—the two largest such collections in Washington, D.C.—as well as the U.S. Senate records on affairs in the territories. Instead of transcripts, the Readex edition features high-resolution images of the original sources—many of which are hand-written documents—ensuring that scholars don’t miss a single detail from this vital period in American history.

Designed to make the content easy to find, and to use!
A product comprised chiefly of digitized manuscripts does not respond to “search and retrieve” interface models the same way as a product comprised of printed books or newspapers. Why? Because there is less “text” to search. The solution? Metadata—and user tools to make metadata meaningful. To make Territorial Papers easy and efficient to use, Readex has incorporated metadata from a range of authoritative sources, including the National Archives and Records Administration, the invaluable “Parker Calendar,” and Readex’s team of editors who assign subject terminology (and more) to the records.

A wealth of multi-disciplinary research and teaching opportunities
For political historians the Territorial Papers include all of the official correspondence between territorial officials and the federal government, providing insights into how actions in the territories related to political forces in the capital. For scholars of Native American history they contain not only tribal treaties but the correspondence related to their negotiation and signing. For military historians they provide detailed records related to official orders, troop movements, and battle accounts. For economic historians they contain detailed reports on agricultural, mining, and industrial production, land ownership, and shipping. In addition, researchers looking for firsthand accounts of life on the American frontier will find a wealth of information in letters, petitions, judicial records, and population data.


“As government information librarians, we not only assist users with current issues, we often delve into historical research. Negotiation of Native American treaties, public land issues, and territorial administration all frame a significant role in the development of the United States. To have digital access in a single interface to the complete, original documents of the Territorial Papers of the State and Interior Departments culled from difficult-to-access locations is a great complement to existing collections and an enormous benefit to researchers. In addition, Readex’s Territorial Papers of the United States is cross-searchable through the Readex AllSearch interface with the U.S. Congressional Serial Set, Early American Imprints and Early American Newspapers.”
— Christopher C. Brown, Professor, Reference Technology Integration Librarian / Government Documents Librarian, University of Denver

“Readex continues their work digitizing historical research with a new project providing scholars access to the Territorial Papers of the United States, a long-needed part of their excellent Archive of Americana.  These important territorial papers cover a wide variety of interdisciplinary topics, including social movements, migration and immigration, Native American and tribal rights, slavery and race relations, international affairs, consumer and family sciences and women’s history to name a few. This collection is a vital resource for any academic library.”
— Aimée C. Quinn, Assistant Professor & Head Government Publications Librarian, Central Washington University

Series List

Note: Asterisk indicates that a territory appears in more than one series.
TerritoryDate Range in Series
Dakota 1858-1889
Washington 1853-1902
Colorado 1859-1888
Nevada 1860-1865
*Florida 1777-1801
Idaho 1863-1890
Kansas 1854-1863
Nebraska 1853-1867
*Wisconsin 1840-1843
*Minnesota 1847-1854
*Iowa 1841-1843
TerritoryDate Range in Series
Utah 1849-1902
Oregon 1824-1871
Wyoming 1868-1890
Arizona 1857-1913
*New Mexico 1840-1890
*Wisconsin 1836-1839
*Iowa 1838-1840
TerritoryDate Range in Series
Oklahoma 1889-1912
*Florida 1802-1845
Territory Northwest of the River Ohio (Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, *Wisconsin and *Minnesota)1787-1813
Territory Southwest of the River Ohio (Tennessee)1789-1808
Missouri 1804-1822
*Wisconsin 1844-1846
*Iowa 1844-1846
*Files of the Alaskan Territorial Governors 1884-1900
TerritoryDate Range in Series
Alaska 1869-1911 
*New Mexico 1891-1914
Hawaii 1898-1907
*Wisconsin 1847-1849
*Minnesota 1855-1860
Records of the Alaskan Territorial Legislature 1913-1953
*Files of the Alaskan Territorial Governors 1901-1919


“For those that love mining for hidden historical gold in archival records, this database provides a level of access to the documents within the Territorial Papers record groups that would be unobtainable to most researchers previously. For others, those that are fond of the prior edited volumes, this database now will provide all of the associated records that relate to information found in what was previously published and should offer new insights into related documents that were largely inaccessible.”
—Christopher R. Eck, Executive Director, National Historical Publications and Records Commission, in Federal History (2020)

Need to track the progress of a tribal treaty? Examine correspondence between territorial officials and Washington? Research accounts of battles and troop movements? Review records of agricultural and industrial production? Examine shipping records? Explore firsthand accounts of frontier life via letters and financial documents? Trace family histories using passenger lists? View petitions for statehood? All this and more can be done using Territorial Papers of the United States, 1764-1953.
The Charleston Advisor (April 2020)

For more information, contact a Readex representative by calling 800.762.8182 or by using our easy contact form.

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