Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

USA North East Region


Part of the New England region, Connecticut is one of the original 13 states that declared independence in 1776. Occupying part of the Appalachian Mountain chain, it covers an area once inhabited largely by Algonquian-speaking peoples like the Pequot, Mohegan, and Nipmuc. Indeed, the term “Connecticut” derives from an Algonquian term for “land on the long tidal river.” Permanent European settlements were established here by British settlers in the 17th centuries, eventually forming the Crown Colony of Connecticut. After formally becoming a state in 1788, the largely agricultural Connecticut underwent increasing industrialisation. One of its key industries has been weapons production, with the state contributing significantly to U.S. military efforts from the Civil War to Vietnam.


Located along the country’s east coast, Delaware has the distinction of being the very first state to ratify the United States constitution in 1787, making it the ‘first state’ in the Union. At the time of European contact, indigenous groups in the region included the Lenape and Susquehannock, populations heavily depleted by introduced diseases. Early European settlements were established by the Dutch and the Swedes in the 17th century, although the British soon assumed dominance. Delaware backed the revolutionary forces against British rule in the late 18th century and, while some Delawareans joined the Confederate Army, the state remained with the Union during the Civil War.


The largest of the six states in the New England region, Maine is also the most sparsely populated state east of the Mississippi River. At the time of European contact in the 16th century, the area was inhabited predominantly by Algonquian-speaking peoples like the Mi’kmaq and Abenaki. The 17th and early 18th centuries saw conflict between the French and British for control of the area, with the latter ultimately proving victorious. Maine then became a district of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and in this capacity joined the new United States after the American Revolution. It only split to form its own state in 1820. Today, Maine is renowned for its natural beauty and for being home to the Acadia National Park.

A misty view over artillery on the Antietam Civil War Battlefield.


One of the original 13 colonies that broke from British rule to form the United States, Maryland formally became a state in 1788. At the time of European contact, its inhabitants were predominantly Algonquian-speakers, with English settlements appearing along the coast in the 17th century, including one designed for English Roman Catholics escaping persecution. The name “Maryland” was subsequently adopted in reference to Henrietta Maria, the wife of King Charles I. The state’s northern border became the Mason-Dixon Line and was widely regarded as the border between the northern and southern states, with Maryland becoming a contested zone in the American Civil War, occupied largely by Union forces but also facing several Confederate attacks.

A replica ship Friendship docked at Derby Wharf in Salem, Massachusetts.


Part of New England, Massachusetts was historically inhabited largely by indigenous groups like the Wampanoag and Massachuset, the latter lending their name to the modern state. Scandinavian explorers may have arrived in the early 11th century, although permanent European settlement would only follow in the 17th century. At this point, English Puritans established settlements like the Plymouth Colony here, hoping to live in accordance with their strict religious values. Later that century, several existing British colonies were united as the Province of Massachusetts Bay. The American Revolution began here in the 18th century, with the colony becoming one of the 13 which declared their independence from Britain. Massachusetts then became the sixth state of the new republic in 1788.

New Hampshire

One of the original 13 colonies that broke from Britain to form the United States, New Hampshire lies in the country’s New England region. Prior to European colonisation, the area was predominantly home to Algonquian-speaking peoples like the Abenaki. English settlements appeared in the 17th century, with the name ‘New Hampshire’ referring to the county of Hampshire in southern England. In 1679 it separated from Massachusetts to form its own colonial province. An eager participant in the American Revolution, it became a state in 1788. During the 19th and early 20th centuries New Hampshire absorbed many further immigrants from various parts of Europe, newcomers who largely congregated in the state’s industrial urban centres.

New Jersey

Situated on the country’s Atlantic seaboard, New Jersey was one of the 13 colonies that broke from British rule during the American Revolution. Before European colonisation, the area was inhabited largely by the indigenous Delaware people. The Italians were the first European explorers to arrive, in 1524; European settlement had to wait until the 17th century, when it was spearheaded by the Dutch and the English. The latter ultimately gained control of New Jersey, its name deriving from an island in the English Channel. The colony was much fought over in the American Revolution, after which it became the third state of the Union in 1787. The 19th century saw substantial industrial and urban development, although New Jersey still retains areas of rural beauty like the Pine Barrens.

New York

Haudenosaunee and Algonquian speaking tribes inhabited what is now New York State long before the arrival European settlers. Their history is accessible in the many museums and cultural centres around the state. After being established as a British colony in the 17th century, and named after England’s then Duke of York, the state became one of the most culturally and politically diverse of the nation’s 13 states. Whether your interests are in colonial or immigrant history, civil rights or the revolutionary war, the state and city of New York has much to offer.


The second state of the union, Pennsylvania was one of the 13 original colonies that united to form the republic. At the time of European colonisation it was home to a varied range of indigenous communities, among them the Erie, Delaware, Susquehannock, and the groups that made up the Iroquois Confederacy. European settlement was spearheaded by the Swedish, followed by the Dutch, before the British secured control of the area in 1664. King Charles II gave the territory to William Penn, with the name “Pennsylvania” meaning “Penn’s Woodland.” Growing settlement led to the rise of cities like Philadelphia, where the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, as well as the arrival of European Anabaptist groups like the Amish and Mennonites.

An aerial view of Fort Adams in Newport, Rhode Island.

Rhode Island

One of the original 13 colonies that created the United States, Rhode Island formally became a state in 1790. It remains the smallest state in the Union, forming part of the broader New England region. Algonquian-speaking peoples formerly predominated here, among them the Wampanoag, the Nipmuc, and the Narragansett. The English colonist Roger Williams established a colony here in 1636, declaring it committed to religious liberty, an ideal that later influenced the formation of the American republic. While often facing hostility from neighbouring British colonies, Rhode Island’s commitment to tolerance resulted in many Jews and Quakers settling here. Rhode Island enthusiastically supported the American Revolution, although expressed concerns about centralising tendencies in the new republic and was the last of the 13 colonies to ratify the constitution.


Part of the New England region, Vermont takes its name from the French for ‘green mountain’. By the 17th century, the area of modern Vermont was inhabited largely by Algonquian-speaking Abenaki groups and members of the Iroquois Confederacy. That century saw the arrival of French settlers in the area, followed by their Dutch and English counterparts in the 18th century. Tensions with other colonies in the region meant that, while Vermont enthusiastically took part in the American Revolution against British rule, it declared itself an independent republic in 1777. Only in 1791 did it join the United States, becoming the 14th state to do so. The 19th century saw the dairy industry become key to Vermont’s economy, with tourism assuming a central role in the 20th century.

Washington DC

Named for the country’s first president, Washington, District of Columbia (DC) is not actually a state, instead being categorised as a territory. The area was set aside in 1790 to serve as the capital of the federal government, carved out of land formerly belonging to Maryland and Virginia. The site was chosen both for its position between the southern and northern states but also because of its accessibility to both the eastern seaboard and the western interior. Washington DC contains many important federal buildings, including the White House and the Capitol building, as well as many museums. The area’s history has not always been peaceful; the British sacked it in the War of 1812, while many battles of the American Civil War took place nearby.