Primary Resources


Along with archaeological evidence, documentary primary sources are the essential foundation of historical interpretation. We are fortunate that thanks to a generous grant from MassHumanities, a large number of key primary sources for the history of the Royall House and Slave Quarters were digitized in 2009 and are available here in PDF format.

The primary sources represented include public records, newspapers, and correspondence as well as miscellaneous and supplementary material.  The materials in each of the five series are included in a single PDF, each of which is inventoried.  Additionally, a master index provides access to the documents by subject, keyword, and personal name.

About the Project

This initiative was generously funded by a grant from MassHumanities and took place from February 1 to July 31, 2009. The work was done by Inventory Taker Kaitlin Edwards and overseen by Project Director Rosemarie Woods, as defined by the grant guidelines.

The goal is to provide a unified and accessible body of primary documents to assist teachers, scholars, and other researchers with an interest in the Royall House and Slave Quarters, as well as provide this information to the general public.

These resources include the Mansion (built 1732-1737), the Slave Quarters (built 1732, enlarged c. 1750), and the remaining landscape of the estate as well as the archaeological artifacts unearthed on the property in this decade.

This inventory is expected to serve as an aid for research related to the Royall family and the enslaved Africans that lived and worked on the property. It is not intended to substitute for the researcher’s detailed examination of the actual papers. We make no representation as to the completeness of this inventory; as further research is done, additional sources are likely to be uncovered.

What’s Included and How It is Catalogued

The inventory includes 81 documents or items, each with an accompanying Primary Document Form. Documents include newspapers, legal documents, letters and a range of miscellany. The documents have been sorted into logical categories and indexed (see below).

Wherever possible, a legible facsimile of the document or items is included; original documents are found in a range of Massachusetts and national archives.

Each of the 81 documents has been assigned to one of the following categories, with these prefixes:

  • PR = Public Records
  • N = Newspapers
  • C = Correspondence
  • Misc = Miscellaneous
  • S = Supplementary

For each document there is a Primary Document Form. In turn, each Primary Document Form has been assigned a four digit number following each prefix; documents are listed chronologically within their category.

To aid the user, the “Forms” contain pertinent information related to its assigned primary document and will assist the researcher in locating the original item at its source location. Categories include: Title, Date of Item, Description, Database/Repository, Format, URL (for online access), Author, Series notes and links if relevant.