Browse Primary Sources
Locate primary sources, including images, objects, media, and texts. Annotations by scholars contextualize sources.
Hand drawn map showing islands with mountains

Selden Map

The Selden Map held by the Bodleian Library in Oxford, where it has been kept since 1659. This beautifully illustrated manuscript map shows East and Southeast Asia and marks maritime trading routes in the form of lines across the region. It was made in the first half of the seventeenth century somewhere in East or Southeast Asia.

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Hand drawn map with a grid showing land and coastline

Guang yutu map

The map of the “South-Eastern ocean barbarians” from the 1568 edition of the atlas Guang yutu. This atlas is divided into two parts, the first one deals with the geography of China, the second one with the Chinese borderlands, thematic maps, and maps of non-Chinese regions. This map shows the coast of China surrounded by many islands, all shaped more or less in the same way.

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Excerpts from the Treaty of Fort Stanwix (1768)

After decades of skirmishing and cold-war jostling, tensions between Great Britain and France all across the globe finally came to a head in the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763). Indians were central players in the war, however many indigenous on both sides were concerned about the futures of themselves and their lands since the war ended with French cessions of their claims in North America.

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Excerpts from the Treaty of Lancaster (1744)

With the threat of war with France looming on the horizon, the English colonies treated with the Iroquois Confederacy to determine a clearer boundary line between Indian lands and the western edges of the English colonies in pursuit of peace. The Treaty of Lancaster (1744) established the line at the eastern foot of the Shenandoah Mountains.

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Excerpts from the Treaty of Albany (1722)

By the mid-18th century, the Iroquois Confederacy was a significant sovereign power and the main physical buffer between the English colonies in the northeast (New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, and New England) and French settlements around the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.

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Map showing railways across Eastern China, Korea, and Japan

Southern Manchuria Railway (1906-1945)

The world’s earliest locomotive-operated railroads, short stretches transporting coal and ore locally from mines to factories and furnaces, were developed in Britain between 1800 and 1825. Soon the potential for transporting all kinds of goods as well as passengers became apparent, and by the 1830s railways were also being built in France, Prussia and the United States.

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Gold sculpture of a bird with it's head turned backwards

Akan Gold-Weight in the Shape of the Sankofa Bird

These intricate figurines, made by skilled West African smiths, were measuring instruments central to world flows of capital and commerce through medieval and early modern times.

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Image of typed emmerton letter

Emmerton Letter, 1926

Between 1919 and 1935, citizens of the U.S. and Canada complained about industrial pollution from an American company called the Solvay Process Company (also called the Michigan Alkali Corporation), which dumped its wastes on Fighting Island, in the Detroit River. The island is in the United States, but the boundary line runs past it through the Detroit River.

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View of the Coffee Plantation Marienbosch in Surinam

View of the Coffee Plantation Marienbosch in Surinam

This painting is a view of the Marienbosch coffee plantation along the banks of the Commewijne River in the Dutch colony of Surinam (present-day Suriname). Alongside coffee, the plantation also produced cotton and cocoa. The artist, Willem de Klerk, never visited Surinam. Instead, he based this painting on a drawing made by Alexander Ludwich Brockmann.

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Men and women prepare copra in the Dutch East Indies

Copra Production in the Dutch East Indies

This photograph, taken by Onnes Kurkdjian, depicts men and women preparing copra in the Dutch East Indies in the early twentieth century. Copra is dried coconut kernels. Once sufficiently dried, laborers then crush the copra to expel its valuable coconut oil. The extracted oil is used for a variety of different products, such as soaps and cosmetics.

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