THE HISTORY CLUB

A place for history teachers, students and enthusiasts

Colonial American History
Reading Group

Our Current Book

Before The Revolution By Daniel Richter

by Daniel Richter

Click Here For Complete Group Reading List

The thought questions aren't intended to be "answered" but are just broad questions to consider (if helpful) as you are reading. They are intentionally broad and general. Have fun with them, use them as tools not like tasks. If you just enjoy reading a good book and don't wish to think about the questions that entirely fine. I hope everyone finds something meaningful in the group and the thought questions and optional reading may be helpful if desired.

Reading Schedule And Optional Thought Questions

Journals That May Be Of Interest

How To Participate in the Reading Group

This is a friendly group of people interested in reading great books about Colonial American History, mainly in the area that would become the United States from c.1585-1763.

Everyone is welcome to participate, regardless of your previous experience in studying history. The goal is to read, learn and enjoy something meaningful. We read about a chapter each week.

Each week I will create a new Facebook post on our page for that week’s reading where the group can interact.

Everyone is encouraged to post their favorite or most meaningful quote from the chapter (about a paragraph with the page number/location) in the comments for the Facebook post covering those chapters. This is an easy, no pressure and meaningful way to express your thoughts on a chapter and is also a great way for individuals to go back and look at what others found meaningful. It keeps the focus on the author’s work rather than an opinion.

Please before you comment, remember others here are good people with feelings. Using second person pronouns should be avoided (you, your, you’be) in replies.

Comments about the chapter or book are welcome as long as they are polite, respectful, relevant, non-partisan and constructive and focused on the author's work not someone else’s comment. A helpful guideline is that you are addressing the group, not an individual when you write. If you enjoy or agree with a post, liking their comment is a meaningful way of engaging the group.

Please before you comment, remember others here are good people with feelings. Using second person pronouns should be avoided (you, your, you’be) in replies.


Of course if you don't want to post a quote or comment, you're still welcome to read along with us.

Individuals who understand English as a secondary language are welcome to participate. Please do not worry if your English is flawed, you are among friends who want you to be here. It’s wonderful you are interested in learning about our history and culture.


I will pick the books because someone needs to do it. All the books are from respected authors in Colonial American History that also have a reputation for being good writers. I've picked books from a variety of topics and viewpoints that collectively provide a good overview of the period. The optional supplemental reading will expand on or show a different viewpoint on the topic/period/event.

The books I would like us to consider reading are:

  1. The First Frontier by Scott Weidensaul
  2. Before The Revolution by Daniel Richter
  3. American Colonies by Alan Taylor
  4. The Americans: The Colonial Experience by Daniel J. Boors tin
  5. Colonial America: A History to 1763 by Richard Middleton

Click Here For Our Complete Reading List

The first five books will provide a good solid overview of Colonial American History and the remaining books will explore a particular aspect of the history of Colonial America with a final book on Colonial America in 1750 at the end of the colonial era. The first two and second two books form nice comparative overviews of the period. All the works are college level in scholarship, well written and intended to be accessible to the general reading public and could easily be read by interested high school students.

My intentions for the supplemental reading will generally follow this plan for the first fiver books we read:

Book 1: The First Frontier – Supplemental Readings about the Virginia and the Carolinas. The comparative supplemental reading for the entire book will focus on the Eurasian region.

Book 2: Before The Revolution – Supplemental Reading about the New England Region including Plymouth and New Haven. The comparative supplemental reading for the entire book will focus on the Latin American area.

Book 3: The American Colonies – Supplemental Reading about the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland  and Rhode Island and religious minorities in the Colonies.  The comparative supplemental reading for the entire book will focus on the area of central west Africa.

Books 4: The Americans: The Colonial Experience - Supplemental Reading on New York, Delaware, the area that would become Vermont and the French fur trade in the area around upstate New York. The comparative supplemental reading for the entire book will focus on the Caribbean and East Indies.

Book 5: Colonial American to 1763 – Supplemental Reading on Georgia, Spanish Florida and New Mexico. The comparative supplemental reading for the entire book will focus on the experience in Ireland.

The books come in an accessible format, so if you use text to speech for a vision impairment this will not be a problem. Some of the books are available through the Nation Library Service for the Blind. All are available in print from your local public library (possibly through inter-library loan).

I am open to changing books if their is a group consensus.

If someone discovers they are more drawn to the supplemental reading than the primary book wonderful. Please share what you find meaningful with the group.

If someone is being disruptive, please ignore them or hide their comments, please do not respond. It is not worth your effort or time. Disruptive people get fuel from engagement to continue their negative behavior. They won’t be here long. I take the civility, decorum and inclusiveness of the group very seriously.

I hope we find a group of open minded, intellectually curious and active individuals. I don’t mind if we’re quiet, but I hope we are meaningful. It is my intention to act as a moderator/facilitator/participant, not as a teacher. Ideally the group will self moderating and sustaining.

There are wonderful episodes in American History. There are tragic and shameful episodes in American History. Honestly studying history is learning about both, not ignoring one or pretending the other does not exist.