Sources for the Ethnography of Northeastern North America to 1611


93 pages
Contains Bibliography




Reviewed by Virginia Gillham

Virginia Gillham is Associate Librarian in the Public Service Library at
the University of Guelph.


“This guide attempts to enumerate the printed and manuscript sources for northeastern North American ethnography from the earliest discoveries by Europeans down to the time of the effective establishment of European settlements in the area, and also to indicate briefly the content of these sources and the features of the Amerindian societies which they record.”

The publication is divided into four sections. A ten-page introduction analyzes the coverage and validity of the sources included, and the uses to which the information might be put.

The main body of the text, entitled “Contact Episodes between Europeans and Amerindians in Northeastern North America and Greenland, 1497-1611,” is organized chronologically and by the names of the European explorers who made and recorded contacts with Amerindian tribes in the area during the relevant time period. Each entry begins with the name of the explorer and the year and probable location of the contact. The tribal grouping is either indicated or speculated upon as appropriate and a description of observed culture traits is included. The latter descriptions vary in length from one sentence to several pages. The original source of the description (usually a diary) is listed, followed by note of any reprint sources. The contacts described cover the geographical area which includes Eastern Canada, New York, and the New England states.

Section three pulls together in eight pages the sources identified in section two. This section is organized alphabetically by explorers’ names and formatted as a bibliography. Section four is a chronological listing of all of the 76 publications in the Ethnology series.

This is a useful list for a very specific purpose, providing references to original source material for scholars working in the area of the Amerindians before European settlement in north-eastern North America.


Quinn, David B., “Sources for the Ethnography of Northeastern North America to 1611,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 23, 2024,