A binding agreement or compact; in the Bible, God's promise to the human race.

Massachusetts Bay Company
Joint stock company chartered by the English government in 1629 to colonize a huge part of New England. The Massachusetts Bay Colony was centered in Boston.

Mayflower Compact
Document signed by Pilgrim men aboard the Mayflower, on Nov. 21, 1620, before the Plymouth landing. It was modeled after a Separatist church covenant, by which they agreed to establish a temporary government and to be bound by its laws.

Followers of Puritanism; English Protestants of the 1600s who believed the English Reformation (accomplished by King Henry VIII in the 1530s) had not gone far enough in reforming the doctrines and structure of the Church of England.

Religious freedom
Political principle that prevents government restrictions on people in the choice of religious beliefs.

Those Puritans who actually broke away from the Church of England, in contrast to the majority who initially sought to reform the church from within.

North American Indian tribe of Eastern Algonquian linguistic stock; skilled at cultivating fruits and vegetables. Their leader, Massasoit, welcomed the English.

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.
Plymouth Colony

William Bradford's History of Plimoth Plantation, 1620-1647.
Plymouth Colony

Alden, John
Bradford, William
Brewster, William
Carver, John
England, Church of
Massachusetts Bay Company
Mayflower Compact, The (document)
King Philip's War
Plymouth Colony
Plymouth (Massachusetts)
Standish, Myles
Thanksgiving Day
White, Peregrine
Winslow, Edward

Plimoth Plantation
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 resources.

Massachusetts Maps
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 Australia/Oceania.

NMAI Exhibitions
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 Internet.

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, and women.

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.