If you are doing research on colonial North American ancestors, there is work being done at Harvard that should be of interest. Founded in 1636, Harvard has what should be a rich resource of manuscripts dating throughout the colonial period. The problem is that they are scattered physically throughout a number of collections within the Harvard Library system. This makes them more difficult to find and many are little used. Harvard’s Colonial North American Project is a huge digitization project that should help solve this problem. Digitization allows Harvard to bring all of these manuscripts together in one place and at the same to make them available remotely to researchers — and that includes family history researchers. There are no restrictions to access these collections through its online portal http://colonialnorthamerican.library.harvard.edu. I believe the project is about one third done. So far there are no transcriptions that I’ve seen, so you may have to brush up on colonial handwriting conventions.
There is a nice presentation on YouTube of this ongoing project by the Harvard University Archivist, Megan Sniffin-Marinoff. Take a look: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08R8kNd9lHw&sns=em
Looked at another way, you’ll be time travelling back several centuries to a culture and a way of thinking about the world that was very familiar to your ancestors but totally foreign to you.
I’d like to thank Mark from our Genealogy Club for alerting me to this project.
vea/11 February 2016
Newton Free Library
Library website: http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog: https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com
Genealogy LibGuide: http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net/genealogy