This is an amazing time for historical research. Libraries and government archives are being digitized and put online at a furious rate; academics are unearthing new data and re-conceptualizing history in exciting new ways, and self-published (non-academic) authors are once again flourishing. I’ve been working on a historical novel about the American Revolution, which is bursting with fascinating details and characters and the research has been completely absorbing. I thought I’d highlight some standouts.

I found a wealth of rich material in histories and biographies written in the 19th Century by ‘amateur’ historians, who scoured the country for details, records, and recollections of the Revolutionary generation. My favorite of these was a prolific fellow called Benson Lossing, who wrote and illustrated a number of books on the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. His Pictorial Field Book of the Revolution is a particularly vivid window into the nation’s early years through a Nineteenth Century lens.

There’s currently a great wave of work available by ‘amateur’ (non-academic) historians, made possible by self-publishing and small specialty presses, podcasts, and websites devoted to ‘Early American’ history–as it’s broadly called. The details and textures of daily life in the Revolutionary era come alive in the work of Stephen Darley, John Rees, Don Hagist and many of the articles in the Journal of the American Revolution (JAR).

I had to declare a moratorium on any further research for my book (for now). If you’re interested, here’s the full bibliography.