Great Lakes Region History: Documents & Collections of Records


This page is for copies and collections of documents related to the historic Great Lakes region. See the right column for more info about this website.


Historic Documents

“Treaty of Fort Macintosh between the US and the Wyandots, Delaware, Ojibwe, and Odawa. Jan 21, 1785”

Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties

Oklahoma State University Library
Go to Document


“An Ordinance for Ascertaining the Mode of Disposing of Lands in the Western Territory: 1785 Land Ordinance”

Road to Indiana Statehood

Purdue: Indiana University Library
Continental CongressGo to Document


The Ohio Company Papers, 1753-1817, Being Primarily Papers of the “Suffering Traders” of Pennsylvania

Arcata, CA: 1947
Bailey, Kenneth P., ed.Go to Book


The Washington-Crawford Letters. Being the Correspondence between George Washington and William Crawford, from 1767 to 1781, concerning western lands

Cincinnati: R. Clark, 1877
Butterfield, Consul Willshire Go to Book

William H. Crawford (1732-1782) learned surveying from George Washington in 1749 and Crawford served under Washington in the British army in the French and Indian War and again during the early part of the Revolution. Between the wars Crawford was employed as a farmer and surveyor, and also traded with the Indians. In 1782 Crawford was leading an expedition against Indians in Ohio country when his army was surprised and routed. Crawford was captured and tortured to death.

This correspondence, mainly written by Crawford, spans 1767 to 1781. It begins with a letter from Washington to Crawford in 1767, asking Crawford to try to acquire about 1500 to 2000 acres near Crawford’s property in western Pennsylvania in the vicinity of Fort Pitt. There follows a number of letters mainly concerning land tracts, but also including other news. By 1774 the letters begin to be dominated by news of the conflict in western Pennsylvania between Lord Dunmore (the British governor of Virginia) and many of the residents of the area.

“An Ordinance for the Government of the Territory of the United States North West of the River Ohio: 1787 Ordinance”

Road to Indiana Statehood

Purdue: Indiana University Library
Continental CongressGo to Document

This is often referred to as the “Northwest Ordinance”.

Great Lakes Region History: Documents & Collections

“A View of the Present State of the Military Force of the United States, submitted to the President of the United States George Washington by Henry Knox, Secretary of War”

Indiana Memory Digital Collections

Indiana State Library
Knox, HenryGo to Document

Document #4 in the Indiana Historical Society’s “Northwest Territory Collection, 1721-1825”. This free online collection contains 551 digitized documents concerning military operations in the region. This document is Knox’s report to the President of 19 March 1891, and discusses the coming year’s goals of peace in the frontiers and explains in detail how best to meet those goals, using both peaceful and military measures.

“Henry Knox, Secretary of War, War Department, to Lieutenants of the counties of Westmoreland, Fayette, Washington, and Allegany in Pennsylvania, and Ohio in Virginia 5 Oct 1791”

Papers of the War Department

George Mason University: Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media
Henry Knox, Secretary of WarGo to Document

Knox tells the militia lieutenants of three Pennsylvania counties to recruit scouts whose purpose will be to warn citizens of imminent danger from Indian attacks; also he specifies how much these scouts will be paid and the procedures for mustering them into and out of the service.

“Statement from Anthony Wayne to Native American Chiefs and Warriors” 1794

American Memory Project

U.S. Library of Congress
General Anthony WayneGo to Document

Wayne’s proclamation calling for peace addresses some of the northern tribes defeated more than three weeks earlier at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, the Sauteux (Ojibwa), Loup (Delaware), Shawnee, Huron, Miami, Ottawa, and Potawatomi.

Great Lakes Region History: Documents & Collections

“Treaty of Greeneville”. (Transcript) 1795

Ohio History Central Online Encyclopedia

Columbus: Ohio Historical Society
Go to Document

A treaty between the United States and a number of Ohio tribes, which generally brought to a close a period of Indian wars in Ohio.

“An Act to Regulate Trade and Intercourse With the Indian Tribes, and to Preserve Peace on the Frontiers” (Transcript) 1799

Ohio History Central Online Encyclopedia

Columbus: Ohio Historical Society
Go to Document


“Harrison Land Act of 1800” (Transcript)

Ohio History Central Online Encyclopedia

Columbus: Ohio Historical Society
Go to Document


Great Lakes Region History: Documents & Collections

“The Act Creating Indiana Territory: An Act to divide the territory of the United States north-west of the Ohio into two separate governments” 1800

Road to Indiana Statehood

Purdue: Indiana University Library
U.S. CongressGo to Document

Signed by President John Adams May 7, 1800. On March 20, 1800, a bill was introduced in the House of Representatives providing for the division of the Northwest Territory into two separate governments. The bill’s supporters urged that the existing situation was too unwieldy for good government, that the growth of population justified the change, and that popular sentiment made it highly desirable. The passage of this act left the present state of Ohio, approximately half of Michigan and the “gore” in southeastern Indiana in the Northwest Territory and constituted the remainder of the original Northwest Territory as Indiana Territory.

“Treaty at Vincennes Aug 7, 1803 between William Henry Harrison, Governor of Indiana Territory and Superintendent of Indian Affairs, and Chiefs and Warriors of the Eel River, Wyandot, Piankashaw Kaskaskia and Kikapo nations”

Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties

Oklahoma State University Library
Go to Document


“Land Act of 1804”

Ohio History Central Online Encyclopedia

Ohio Historical Society
U.S. CongressGo to Document

The United States Congress passed the Land Act of 1804 to create terms for the sale of federal lands in Ohio. This act replaced the Harrison Land Act of 1800, which applied to federal land in the Northwest Territory.

Great Lakes Region History: Documents & Collections

“Treaty with the Wyandots, Delawares, Shawnees, Senecas, and Miamis” (Transcript) 1814

Ohio History Central Online Encyclopedia

Ohio Historical Society
Go to Document


“Treaty with the Senecas, Shawnees and Wyandots” 1831 (Transcript)

Ohio History Central Online Encyclopedia

Ohio Historical Society
Go to Document






Collections

83 Digitized Portraits of American Indians

Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society
Manuscript and Visual Collections Go to Collection


Great Lakes Region History: Documents & Collections

American Journeys: Eyewitness Accounts of Early American Exploration and Settlement: A Digital Library and Learning Center

Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society
Go to Collection

American Journeys contains more than 18,000 pages of eyewitness accounts of North American exploration, from the sagas of Vikings in Canada in AD1000 to the diaries of mountain men in the Rockies 800 years later.
Read the words of explorers, Indians, missionaries, traders and settlers as they lived through the founding moments of American history. View, search, print, or download more than 150 rare books, original manuscripts, and classic travel narratives from the library and archives of the Wisconsin Historical Society.
– Summary from the American Journeys website.

American State Papers: Legislative and Executive Documents of Congress 1789-1838

Washington: U.S. Library of Congress
American Memory Project Go to Collection

This collection of 6,278 documents contains legislative and executive documents of Congress during the period 1789 to 1838 in ten topical classes or series. Every volume contains an index and all but one has a table of contents.

I. Foreign Relations
II. Indian Affairs
III. Finances
IV. Commerce and Navigation
V. Military Affairs
VI. Naval Affairs
VII. Post Office Department
VIII. Public Lands
IX. Claims
X. Miscellaneous

The First American West: The Ohio River Valley 1750-1820

Washington: U.S. Library of Congress
The American Memory Project of the U.S. Library of CongressGo to Collection

“15,000 digitized pages of original historical material documenting the land, peoples, exploration, and transformation of the trans-Appalachian West from the mid-eighteenth to the early nineteenth century. Among the sources included are books, periodicals, newspapers, pamphlets, scientific publications, broadsides, letters, journals, legal documents, ledgers and other financial records, maps, physical artifacts, and pictorial images. The collection documents the travels of the first Europeans to enter the trans-Appalachian West, the maps tracing their explorations, their relations with Native Americans, and their theories about the region’s mounds and other ancient earthworks. Naturalists and other scientists describe Western bird life and bones of prehistoric animals. Books and letters document the new settlers’ migration and acquisition of land, navigation down the Ohio River, planting of crops, and trade in tobacco, horses, and whiskey. Leaders from Thomas Jefferson and James Madison to Isaac Shelby, William Henry Harrison, Aaron Burr, and James Wilkinson comment on politics and regional conspiracies. Documents also reveal the lives of trans-Appalachian African Americans, nearly all of them slaves; the position of women; and the roles of churches, schools, and other institutions. ”
– from The First American West website

Great Lakes Region History: Documents & Collections

Northwest Territory Collection, 1721-1825

Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society
Manuscript and Visual Collections Go to Collection

550 Documents.
“The bulk of the papers are from the period 1780 through 1801 and relate to the U.S. Army in the West; the campaigns of generals Josiah Harmar, Arthur St. Clair and Anthony Wayne against the Indians; Indian relations; French settlers at Vincennes and elsewhere in the territory; the Ohio Company and other American settlers; and the administration of the territorial government. ”
– From the Northwest Territory Collection website

Guide to Records in the National Archives – Great Lakes Region

Washington: National Archives and Records Administration 1989
National ArchivesGo to Book


Papers of the War Department 1784-1800

George Mason University
Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New MediaGo to Collection

42,882 documents. Some are transcribed.
“Between 1784 and 1800, the War Department was responsible for Indian affairs, veteran affairs, naval affairs (until 1798), as well as militia and army matters. During the 1790s, the Secretary of War spent seven of every ten dollars of the federal budget (debt service excepted). The War Office did business with commercial firms and merchants all across the nation; it was the nation’s largest single consumer of fabric, clothing, shoes, food, medicine, building materials, and weapons of all kinds. The War Department operated the nation’s only federal social welfare program, providing veterans’ benefits (including payments to widows and orphans) to more than 4,000 persons. It also provided internal security, governance, and diplomacy on the vast frontier, and it was the instrument that shaped relations with Native Americans.”
– from the Papers of the War Department website

The Territorial Papers of the United States

Washington: National Archives 1934 – 1975
Carter, Clarence Edwin and Bloom, John Porter, eds.Go to Book

Volumes for the Great Lakes region are:

Vol 1. General
Vol 2. The Territory Northwest of the River Ohio, 1787-1803
Vol 3. The Territory Northwest of the River Ohio, 1787-1803 continued
Vol 7. The Territory of Indiana 1800-1810
Vol 8. The Territory of Indiana 1810-1816
Vol 10. The Territory of Michigan 1805-1820
Vol 11. The Territory of Michigan 1820-1829
Vol 12. The Territory of Michigan 1829-1837
Vol 16. The Territory of Illinois 1809-1814
Vol 17. The Territory of Illinois 1814-1818
Vol 27. The Territory of Wisconsin, Executive Journal, 1836-1848; Papers, 1836-1839
Vol 28. The Territory of Wisconsin 1839-1848

William Henry Harrison Papers and Documents, 1791-1864

Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society
Manuscript and Visual Collections Go to Collection



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