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History: America: Territorial Papers of the United States

About the Papers

Territorial papers were produced in three stages. The project began when David W. Parker identified over 9000 documents of permanent value relating to the territorial period, located in various Washington, DC government offices. The historical community lobbied Congress to pass an act that required the government to publish records of the territories. 

28 published volumes consist of transcribed (from handwritten documents), indexed, and annotated documents pertaining to the administration of some of the territories of the United States. In selecting among the documents, the goal was to include all significant documents (excepting those published elsewhere) of three types:

  • Department of State documents concerning administration of the territories (since the department administered territories until 1873)
  • Those pertaining to the establishment and management of the postal system
  • Memorials and petitions to Congress from people and legislatures

Volumes were not published for each territory. Note that the territorial papers often cross-reference to the American State Papers, which are searchable in a Readex database or freely accessible at the Library of Congress.

Funding for the project was cut significantly after the last two volumes on the Territory of Wisconsin were published. After that time, records were microfilmed and produced along with guides for Wisconsin and Iowa that provided contextual information and indexing. Microfilm was produced for Oregon and Minnesota, but the guides provide only reel-level description and no indexing. There are also many fewer reels produced, not because of lack of material, but because of further reduced funding. The National Archives continued to produce microfilm relating to the territories, but the accompanying guides are brief.

When they ran out of money for microfilming, they then produced The Trans-Mississippi West, 1804-1902, a series of four printed guides that detail the records of the territorial period of the departments of State, Justice, Agriculture, and the Interior. These volumes can be downloaded from HathiTrust.

Accessing the published volumes

A complete set of the volumes is digitized and available at and HathiTrust and the list below provides links to both platforms. To access records at you must create a (free) account. The volumes can be downloaded from each site. The volumes are also accessible and searchable in the HeinOnline database.

Volume number Title HathiTrust
1 General FS HT
2 The Territory northwest of the River Ohio, 1787-1803 FS HT
3 The Territory northwest of the River Ohio, 1787-1803 continued FS HT
4 The Territory south of the River Ohio, 1790-1796 FS HT
5 The Territory of Mississippi, 1798-1817 FS HT
6 The Territory of Mississippi, 1809-1817 continued FS HT
7 The Territory of Indiana, 1800-1810 FS HT
8 The Territory of Indiana, 1810-1816 continued FS HT
9 The Territory of Orleans, 1803-1812 FS HT
10 The Territory of Michigan, 1805-1820 FS HT
11 The Territory of Michigan, 1820-1829 continued FS HT
12 The Territory of Michigan, 1829-1837 continued FS HT
13 The Territory of Louisiana-Missouri, 1803-1806 FS HT
14 The Territory of Louisiana-Missouri, 1806-1814 continued FS HT
15 The Territory of Louisiana-Missouri, 1815-1821 continued FS HT
16 The Territory of Illinois, 1809-1814 FS HT
17 The Territory of Illinois, 1814-1818 continued FS HT
18 The Territory of Alabama, 1817-1819 FS HT
19 The Territory of Arkansas, 1819-1825 FS HT
20 The Territory of Arkansas, 1825-1829 continued FS HT
21 The Territory of Arkansas, 1829-1836 continued FS HT
22 The Territory of Florida, 1821-1824 FS HT
23 The Territory of Florida, 1824-1828 FS HT
24 The Territory of Florida, 1828-1834 FS HT
25 The Territory of Florida, 1834-1839 FS HT
26 The Territory of Florida, 1839-1845 FS HT
27 The Territory of Wisconsin, 1836-1848 FS HT
28 The Territory of Wisconsin, 1836-1848 FS HT

Microfilm supplements

The National Archives Records Administration created microfilm supplements for some territories that contain original images of additional documents. The list of the microfilmed records below includes links to UCB library holdings or holdings at another UC or the Center for Research Libraries, which can be requested through Interlibrary Loan. Some of the microfilm has been digitized and is available through the National Archives catalog. After accessing the digitized microfilm, look below the image for "Files Available for Download." The link provided allows you to download the complete digitized microfilm reel.

The images on the microfilm are of handwritten documents -- not transcribed -- some of which are damaged. They are not easy to read. Do use the guides for a better understanding of what is included in the microfilm and in some cases, as guides to where you can find relevant documents.

Microfilm number Title Online UC Library Search link CRL catalog link
M236 The Territorial Papers of the United States: The Territory of Wisconsin, 1836-1848, 122 rolls Guide      
M325 The Territorial Papers of the United States: The Territory of Iowa, 1838-1846, 102 rolls Guide     T3R73A-M (5 reels)
M1049 The Territorial Papers of the United States: The Territory of Oregon, 1848-1859, 12 rolls Guide     MF-13086
M1050 The Territorial Papers of the United States: The Territory of Minnesota, 1849-1858, 19 rolls Guide     MF-13100 (14 reels)
M3 State Department Territorial Papers, Colorado, 1859-1874, 1 roll  Guide NARA   MF-19518
M12 State Department Territorial Papers, Utah, 1853-1873, 2 rolls Guide NARA   MF-5960
M13 State Department Territorial Papers, Nevada, 1861-1864, 2 rolls  Guide NARA UCLA (1 reel) MF-19519 (1 reel)
M26 State Department Territorial Papers, Washington, 1854-1872, 2 rolls  Guide NARA   MF-19520 (1 reel)
M85 State Department Territorial Papers, Wyoming, 1868-1873, 1 roll  Guide NARA   MF-19523
M116 State Department Territorial Papers, Florida, 1777-1824, 11 rolls  Guide NARA MICROFILM.4190.F MF-19403
M189 Interior Department Territorial Papers: Washington, 1854-1902, 4 rolls Guide     MF-19515
M191 Interior Department Territorial Papers: Idaho, 1864-1890, 3 rolls  Guide     MF-19525 (1 reel)
M192 Interior Department Territorial Papers: Montana, 1867-1889, 2 rolls Guide     MF-9259
M200 Territorial Papers of The U.S. Senate, 1789-1873 (various territories), 20 rolls  Guide   MICROFILM.4115.E  
M204 Interior Department Territorial Papers: Wyoming, 1870-1890, 6 rolls Guide     MF-3165
M218 State Department Territorial Papers, Kansas, 1854-1861, 2 rolls Guide NARA MICROFILM.4191.F MF-7248
M228 State Department Territorial Papers, Nebraska, 1854-1867, 1 roll Guide NARA MICROFILM.4192.F MF-19526
M309 State Department Territorial Papers, Dakota, 1861-1873, 1 roll Guide NARA MICROFILM.4189.F  
M310 Interior Department Territorial Papers: Dakota, 1863-1889, 3 rolls Guide   MICROFILM.4314.F MF-3181
M325 State Department Territorial Papers, Iowa, 1838-1852, 102 rolls  Guide      
M342 State Department Territorial Papers, Arizona, 1864-1872, 1 roll Guide NARA  
M356 State Department Territorial Papers, Montana, 1864-1872, 2 rolls NARA    
M364 Interior Department Territorial Papers: New Mexico, 1851-1914, 15 rolls Guide      
M419 State Department Territorial Papers, Oregon, 1848-1858, 1 roll Guide NARA   MF-19529
M428 Interior Department Territorial Papers: Utah, 1850-1902, 6 rolls Guide     MF-12936
M429 Interior Department Territorial Papers: Arizona, 1868-1913, 8 rolls Guide     T3/R73/A-M (5 reels)
M430 Interior Department Territorial Papers: Alaska, 1869-1911, 17 rolls Guide     MF-19384
M431 Interior Department Territorial Papers: Colorado, 1861-1888, 1 roll Guide     MF-19530
M445 State Department Territorial Papers, Idaho, 1863-1872, 1 roll Guide NARA   MF-19531
M470 State Department Territorial Papers, Territory Northwest of the River Ohio, 1787-1801, 1 roll Guide NARA MICROFILM 15023 J MF-19532
M471 State Department Territorial Papers, Territory Southwest of the River Ohio, 1790-1795, 1 roll  Guide NARA MICROFILM.15024.F MF-19533
M827 Interior Department Territorial Papers: Hawaii, 1898-1907, 4 rolls      
M828 Interior Department Territorial Papers: Oklahoma, 1889-1912, 5 rolls     MF-11548
M1134 State Department Territorial Papers, Missouri, 1812-1820, 1 roll NARA    
T17 State Department Territorial Papers, New Mexico, 1851-1872, 4 rolls NARA   MF-10146
T260 State Department Territorial Papers, Orleans, 1764-1823, 13 rolls NARA MICROFILM.4233.F MF-19513