I've often referred to online documents from the American Memory collection at the Library of Congress—our tax dollars at work for us! Here are a couple more commodious and useful online collections of documents from Revolutionary America, also mostly or partly supported by government grants.
Northern Illinois University is hosting a growing set of transcriptions from the American Archives assembled by Peter Force in the early 1800s. Force had a grand scheme—also supported by public money—to collect and print huge numbers of documents from every period of American history up to his own. He didn't finish, but his series on the Revolutionary period is immense, and immensely valuable. And now it's searchable by keywords.
The American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts, has one of the nation's finest collections of printed materials from pre-1876 America, and in the late twentieth century spearheaded efforts to create comprehensive archives of colonial and early republican newspapers and all other imprints on microfilm and microfiche. Now it's working with the Readex company to move that material into digital form with searchable text transcriptions. The cost of subscribing to the digital databases is immense—beyond an individual's reach. But I've found two ways to access the databases for a reasonable cost:
- Any resident of Massachusetts can sign up for a Boston Public Library card. Then go to the BPL's electronic resources page, hit "History," hit "Archives of Americana," enter the library card number, and start searching.
- For folks outside Massachusetts, the New England Historic Genealogical Society gives paid members access to the colonial newspapers part of this archive, thanks to a generous donation by an anonymous member.