Plymouth Colony, America's first permanent Puritan settlement, was
established by English Separatist Puritans in December 1620. The Pilgrims left
England to seek religious freedom, or simply to find a better life. After a
period in Holland, they set sail from Plymouth, England, on Sept. 16, 1620,
aboard the Mayflower, its 102 passengers spending 65 days at sea.
Passengers, now known as the Pilgrim Fathers, included leader William Brewster;
John Carver, Edward Winslow, and William Bradford, early governors of Plymouth
Colony; John Alden, assistant governor; and Myles Standish, a professional
soldier and military advisor. The Mayflower dropped anchor near
present-day Provincetown on Nov. 21, 1620, and 41 male passengers signed the
Mayflower Compact, an agreement to enact "just and equal laws for the general
good of the colony." The Pilgrims finally landed at the site of present-day
Plymouth, Mass., on Dec. 26, 1620.
By legend the Pilgrims stepped ashore at Plymouth Rock; their records do not
mention this landmark. Settlers began erecting buildings and rough shelters for
the winter. But harsh climate and illness took their toll. By the end of winter
half the colonists had died. The colonists encountered the Indian Samoset, who
surprised them by speaking English, learned from English traders on the coast of
Maine. Samoset introduced the colonists to Massasoit, chief of the Wampanoag
Indians, who signed a peace treaty with the Pilgrims. Squanto, another
English-speaking Indian, acted as guide and interpreter, and with his help the
colonists learned to plant corn, catch fish, and gather fruit. The Pilgrims
invited the Indians to celebrate their first harvest in 1621, an event now
celebrated as Thanksgiving Day. After Massasoit's death, the Wampanoag joined a
tribal coalition to eliminate English settlers, but in the ensuing King Philip's
War the Wampanoag were nearly exterminated. The colony gradually grew in size,
and the original settlement known as the Plimoth Plantation expanded as settlers
built houses in the area. Plymouth Colony retained its independence for over 70
years, and by 1691 its population exceeded 7,000. It was integrated with the
Massachusetts Bay Company's much larger colony to establish the royal colony of
Massachusetts now the state of the same name.
Here are some topics to explore that relate to the Plymouth Colony. Looking at the articles, images, and other materials in this Research Starter may give you more ideas. Each topic has one or more articles to start you on your research, but remember that it takes more than one article to make a research paper. Continue your research with our list of articles below.
The reasons the Pilgrims emigrated from England.
||England, Church of
The voyage of the Mayflower.
||Mayflower Compact, The (document)
The impact of the colonists on the lives of the Indians.
||King Philip's War
Daily life at Plimoth Plantation.
William Bradford's History of Plimoth Plantation, 1620-1647.
An informative Web site with information and many illustrations depicting life in the
original Plymouth Colony.
Historical Text Archive
Primary source material plus a lively collection of links for the study of American
history, organized topically and by historical period.
Commonwealth of Massachusetts MAGNet
Official Web site of the state of Massachusetts offers general information
about the state, communities, government, business, and more.
The Massachusetts Department of Education
Massachusetts state education department provides an overview of the agency and
information on educational facilities, school districts, programs, and other related
Part of the Perry-Castaneda Library Map Collection at the University
of Texas at Austin, these pages present maps of Massachusetts and
several cities within the state. Topographical, geological, historical,
and other maps are included.
U.S. Gazetteer: Plymouth, Massachusetts
From this page, either display a map with general census data for
this area, or view and download more detailed census tables.
Church of England
The official Web site of the Church of England provides information explaining the
workings and beliefs of the Church of England.
Native Americans and the Environment
Site contains hundreds of bibliographic entries and links to many Internet resources
relating to North American native peoples. Resources are classified by tribal groups.
Includes a clickable region map to help readers find information.
WWWVL: American Indians Cultural Resources
An extensive list of links to Web sites that provide scholarly and commercial
resources on North American native peoples.
NativeWeb Home Page
An excellent site for material on the native peoples of the Western Hemisphere and
This Smithsonian Institution site contains information about the museum's exhibitions
and research as well as an annotated listing of other Native American sites on the
Contains the most authoritative classification database of the world's languages
currently available. Searchable by language name, language family, and country;
general search option also provided.
Internet History Sourcebooks Project
From a historian at New York's Fordham Univ., a broad collection of mostly
public-domain texts, arranged by sourcebooks on ancient, medieval, and modern
history. Other history sourcebooks available here cover regions, religions, science,
The World-Wide Web Virtual Library: Literature
The portion of the World Wide Web Virtual Library devoted to literature, writing,
publishing, and related subjects. Comprehensive annotated links to related sites,
especially for contemporary writing and publishing.