Fur Trade





Native American Bibliography

The fur trade brought the French, the English, and the Americans into what is now Michigan. The Native Americans both gathered furs and traded them.


Biggar, H. P. The Early Trading Companies of New France: A Contribution to the History of Commerce and Discovery in North America. NY: Argonaut Press, 1965.
Biggar traces the birth and growth of trade and commerce to the year 1632 in New France.

Burnett, William. Letter Book of William Burnett: Early Fur Trader in the Land of Four Flags. n. p.: Fort Miami Heritage Society of Michigan, 1967.
The fur trade during the period following the Revolutionary War and during the War of 1812.

Chute, Janet E. "Ojibwa Leadership during the Fur Trade Era at Sault Ste. Marie." In New Faces of the Fur Trade, Selected Papers of the 7th North American Fur Trade Conference, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1995 edited by Jo-Anne Fiske, Susan Sleeper-Smith, and William Wicker. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 1995. 153-174.
No other Ojibwa group during the mid to late fur trade era attracted so much attention from traders and colonial administrators as the 'Crane' band of Sault Ste. Marie.

Clayton, James L. The American Fur Company: The Final Years. Dissertation. Cornell University, 1964.
It is clear from the data of the final years that the American Fur Company has been unjustifiably condemned by many writers. On the whole it did not exploit the Indians, debauch the Indians with liquor, or use its influence with the government to exploit the public.

Documents Relative to Indian Trade. Submitted to the Senate by the Committee on Indian Affairs. February 11, 1822. Washington, DC: Gales and Seaton, 1822.
Invoices and accounts of the Factories system of the United States.

Five Fur Traders of the Northwest. St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society, 1965.
These documents offer dramatic, first hand glimpses of the daily existence of voyageurs and Indians, detailed data on canoeing, trading practices, trade goods, and Indian customs.

Gilman, Carolyn. Where Two Worlds Meet: The Great Lakes Fur Trade. St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society, 1982.
Catalog of an exhibit at the Minnesota Historical Society.

Hale, Nathaniel C. Pelts and Palisades; The Story of Fur and the Rivalry for Pelts in Early America. Richmond, VA: Dietz Press, 1959.
It was the trader in quest of beaver who first met and conducted diplomatic relations with the Indians.

Hamil, Frederick. Sally Ainse, Fur Trader. Detroit, MI: Algonquin Club, 1939.
A Detroit fur trader, possessor of a large grant of land from the Chippewas.

Hamil, Frederick. When Beaver was King. Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 1951.
Brief history of the fur trade.

Hamilton, Henry E. Incidents and Events in the Life of Gurdon Saltonstall Hubbard. Chicago, IL: Rand McNally, 1888.
Hubbard was a fur trader and a founder of Chicago. The Indians were his constant companions.

Harrington, Steve. Fair Shake in the Wilderness: The Life and Times of Rix Robinson. Grand Rapids, MI: Maritime Press, 2000.
Rix Robinson proved that Indians should be treated fairly even though the Old Northwest Territory was flooded by white settlers.

Hubbard, Gurdon Saltonstall. The Autobiography of Gurdon Saltonstall Hubbard, Pa-pa-ma-ta-be, "The Swift Walker." Chicago, IL: R.R. Donnelley and Sons, 1911.
Hubbard was a fur trader with the American Fur Company, traveling and living with the Indians.

Johnson, Beverly Hayward. "Letters From Mackinac, Harbingers of Struggle." In Entering the 90's: The North American Experience: Proceedings from the Native American Studies Conference at Lake Superior State University, October 27-28, 1989. edited by Thomas E. Shirer. Sault Ste. Marie, MI: Lake Superior State University Press, 1991. 58-73
John Lowe's 1780 -1846 letters. Lowe was a fur trader.

Johnson, Ida A. The Michigan Fur Trade. Lansing, MI: Michigan Historical Commission, 1919.
An account of the fur traders' regime in Michigan. Depicts the lives of traders and their relations to the red men.

Laird, Matthew R. The Price of Empire: Anglo-French Rivalry for the Great Lakes Fur Trade 1700-1760. Dissertation. College of William and Mary, 1995.
As the English and French grappled for North American hegemony, trade with the Indian groups of the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley transcended mere financial calculations and assumed broader imperial significance.

Letter from the Secretary of War, Transmitting an Abstract of Licenses Granted to Trade with Indians, Within the Year Commencing 10th September, 1832.
Licenses to trade with the Indians.

McKenney, Thomas. A Report in Relation to Indian Trade. Washington, DC: Gales and Seaton, 1820.
McKenney's report on the factory system of the government.

Morse, Eric. Canoe Routes of the Voyageurs: The Geography and Logistics of the Canadian Fur Trade. St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society, 1961.
How the voyageurs got across the continent.

Neill, Edward D. The Development of Trade on Lake Superior and Its Tributaries During the French Regime. St. Paul, MN: Pioneer Press, 1890.
Includes much about the Native Americans of the region.

Nelson, George. My First Years in the Fur Trade: The Journals of 1802-1804 edited by Laura Peers and Theresa Schenck. St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2002.
These journals are valuable for candid observations on the customs and culture of the Ojibway people. They provide detailed descriptions of Ojibwa spiritual practices.


Pierre Esprit Radisson, 1618-1710. St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1978.
These men were early fur traders in the Great Lakes area.

Peers, Laura. "Fur Trade History, Native History, Public History: Communication and Miscommunication." In New Faces of the Fur Trade: Selected Papers of the Seventh North American Fur Trade Conference, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1995 edited by Jo-Anne Fiske, Susan Sleeper-Smith, and William Wickem. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University, 1998. 101-119.
Peers comments on attempts by historic sites to develop relationships with Native communities and to acknowledge Native perspectives on the fur trade. These attempts are a fascinating development at the intersections between fur trade history, Native history, and public history.

Reese, Ted. Soft Gold: A History of the Fur Trade in the Great Lakes Region and Its Impact on Native American Culture. Bowie, MD: Heritage Books, 2001.
Reese discusses the development of the fur trade and the European struggle for its control, while examining the involvement of Native Americans in that industry which led to the eventual demise of their culture.

Richmond, Rebecca L. The Fur Traders of the Grand River Valley. Grand Rapids, MI: Historical Society of Grand Rapids, 1907.
A paper read before the Historical Society of Grand Rapids.

Saum, Lewis D. The Fur Trader and the Indian. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press, 1965.
From a survey of fur trader records Saum has drawn sketches of the fur traders and the lives they led. He finds the traders' views of the Indian does not seem to have been dominated by preconceived attitudes.

Skinner, Constance Lindsay. Beaver, Kings and Cabins. NY: Macmillan, 1943.
From the early fur traders and their relations with the Indians came glamorous stories of courage and perseverance, which are the highlights in the romance of early American history.

Sleeper-Smith, Susan. "Furs and Female Kin Networks: The World of Marie Madeleine Reaume L'archeveque Chevalier." In New Faces of the Fur Trade: Selected Papers of the Seventh North American Fur Trade Conference, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1995. Edited by Jo-Anne Fiske, Susan Sleeper-Smith, and William Wickem. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University, 1998. 53-72.
Marie Madeleine spent most of her life at Fort Joseph. Her marriage to two traders was indicative of 18th century society.

Sleeper-Smith, Susan. Indian Women and French Men: Rethinking Cultural Encounters in the Western Great Lakes. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 2001.
Sleeper-Smith provides a perspective on a colonial world where kinship determined identity. The primary focus of the book is the role that Native women played in establishing the fur trade as an avenue of sociocultural change.

Van Kirk, Sylvia. Many Tender Ties: Women in the Fur Trade Society, 1670-1970. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1993.
Van Kirk includes a little on the fur trade in the Old Northwest.

Wheeler, Robert C. A Toast to the Fur Trade; A Picture Essay on its Material Culture. St. Paul, MN: Wheeler Productions, 1985.
Material culture of the fur traders and the Native Americans.

Widder, Keith R. "Effects of the American Revolution on Fur Trade Society at Michilimackinac." In The Fur Trade Revisited: Selected Papers of the Sixth North American Fur Trade Conference, Mackinac Island, Michigan, 1991. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 1994.
The fur trade was the common denominator that linked all groups of people residing in the western Great Lakes region before and during the American Revolution.

Woodward, Arthur. The Denominators of the Fur Trade: An Anthology of Writings on the Material Culture of the Fur Trade.​Pasadena, CA: Westernlore Press, 1979.
Includes chapters on wampum, trade beads, Indian trade silver, silver gorgets, metal tomahawks, Green River knives and trade goods. Profusely illustrat


"Fur Trade on the Upper Lakes." Wisconsin Historical Documents 19 (1910): 234-372.
Documents from the 1778 to 1815 period.

Grignon, Augustin. "Seventy-two Years' Recollections of Wisconsin." Wisconsin Historical Collections 3(1857): 197-295.
An oral history from Grignon who was a trader in the Old Northwest and personally acquainted with much of the early history of the area and many of the Indian leaders.

Investigation of how John Jacob Astor came to dominate the early nineteenth century United States fur trade.

James, J. A. "Indian Trading House or Factory System." National Magazine 16 (May 1892): 32-37.
James explains how this system evolved.

McDowell, John E. "Madame La Framboise." Michigan History 56 (Winter 1972): 271-286.
Madame La Framboise was a Native American fur trader.

McDowell, John E. "Therese Schindler of Mackinac: Upward Mobility in the Great Lakes Fur Trade." Wisconsin Magazine of History 61 (Winter 1977-1978): 125-143.

Schinder was a fur trader, the daughter of a fur trader and an Ottawa woman.

Magnaghi, Russell M. "Michigan's Indian Factory at Detroit, 1802-1805." Inland Seas 38 (Fall 1982): 171-178.
In an attempt to develop and maintain harmonious relations with the Indians Congress passed laws which created Government-sponsored trading posts; known as the Indian Factory System. This article deals with the post at Detroit.

Magnaghi, Russell M. "Michigan's Indian Factory at Mackinac, 1808-1812." Inland Seas 39 (Spring 1983): 22-30.
The history of the Detroit and Mackinac factories best illustrates the basic flaw of the factory system. Both factories tended to direct their trade toward local merchants.

Magnaghi, Russell M. "The Sandusky Indian Factory, 1806-1812." Inland Seas 39 (Fall 1983): 174-179+.
This article presents a history of the Sandusky Indian Factory and an evaluation of the total system in the Great Lakes area.

Moore, Vivian Lyon. "A Pochontas of Michigan." Michigan History 15 (Winter 1931): 71-79.
Madame La Fromboise, fur trader.

Neill, Edward D. "History of the Ojibways, and Their Connection with Fur Traders, Based upon Official and Other Records." Minnesota Historical Society Records 5 (1885): 395-510.
Official records edited by Neill.

Parker, Samuel J. "American History as Affected by the Hudson Bay Company Canoe Paths." Magazine of Western History 9 (December 1888): 206-212.
The Indian canoe paths led from the Great Lakes to the Pacific.

Peters, Bernard C. "John Johnston's 1822 Description of the Lake Superior Chippewa." Michigan Historical Review 20 (Fall 1994): 24-46.

Johnston was a fur trader at Sault Ste. Marie. His description of the Chippewa clearly illustrates what happened when two cultures collided.

Porter, Frances. "The Fur Trade: First Industry of the Great Lakes Region." Harlow's Wooden Man 23 (Winter 1987): 3-8.
The political, commercial, and social aspects of the fur trade directly affected the development of the Great Lakes region and its first inhabitants.

Stevens, Paul L. "Wabasha Visits Governor Carleton, 1776: New Light on a Legendary Episode of Dakota-British Diplomacy on the Great Lakes Frontier." Michigan Historical Review 16 (Spring 1990): 21-48.
Wabasha (Red Leaf) worked to establish close commercial ties with the British at Michilimackinac and Montreal.

Trask, Kerry A. "Settlement in a Half-Savage Land: Life and Loss in the Metis Community of La Boye." Michigan Historical Review 15 (Spring 1989): 1-27.
The Metis trading town of La Baye on the south shore of Green Bay was the result of the intermarriages of European men and Indian women who depended on the Great Lakes fur trade for their livelihoods.

White, Bruce M. "'Give us a little milk': The Social and Cultural Meanings of Gift Giving in the Lake Superior Fur Trade." Minnesota History 48 (Summer 1982): 60-71.
On the simplest level the Ojibway, like many other cultural groups, believed that tangible objects could be used to signify feelings.

Wright, Gary A. "Some Aspects of Early and Mid-Seventeenth Century Exchange Networks in the Western Great Lakes." Michigan Archaeologist​ 13 (December 1967): 181-197.
Wright discusses trade in the western Great Lakes in this period.


Account Book of a Trading Post, 1873-1878. 1 volume
Account book is probably from the area in what is presently Leelanau or Charlevoix county. Pages 404-430 include accounts with Native Americans.

Account Book with Indians and Voyageurs, 1821, 1834. 1 volume
Account book from Detroit recording the fur trade activities of about 14 fur traders and 130 Indians.

American Fur Company. Blotter. Public Archives of Canada. 2 reels of microfilm

American Fur Company. Papers. Madison, WI: State Historical Society of Wisconsin. 1 reel of microfilm.
Mackinac Letter Books December 1816-1830.

American Fur Company. Papers. New York Historical Society. 37 reels of microfilm
Letter books, invoices, orders, store orders, memoranda, and letters 1834-1845.
Indexed in: Nute Grace Lee. Calendar of the American Fur Company's Papers.

American Fur Company. Papers. 30 reels of microfilm
Rolls 1-4. Letters to Gabriel Franchere, John Livingston, Peter Barbeau.
Rolls 4-9. Peter Barbeau letters
Roll 10. G. Johnston papers.
Roll 11. Schoolcraft letters
Roll 12-21. Port Mackinac papers, 1802-1828.
Roll 22-25. N.W. Scranton papers

American Fur Company. Papers. 2 reels of microfilm
Papers from 1803-1843.

American Fur Company. Records located in Stuart House, Mackinac Island. 2 reels of microfilm.
Records dating from 1817 -.

Astor, John J. Papers. Madison, WI: State Historical Society of Wisconsin. 14 reels of microfilm.

Fitting, James E. "The Mackinac Bubble: Economic Theory and the Late Period Trade in the Straits of Mackinac." (Fitting Mss Box 4)
A comparison of the inflationary spiral in the Straits of Mackinac, following the inception of the European fur trade, to that in Europe.

Franchere, Gabriel. Collection, 1835-1847. 1 box
Typed English transcriptions of letters from two letterbooks of the American Fur Company. Remarks on visits to fishing stations at Grand Portage, Isle Royale, and Ance Quiwinan.

McDowell, John. Papers.
McDowell's papers include his drafts, notes and related correspondence of his unpublished biography of Madeline La Framboise and other women fur traders.

Sault Ste. Marie Collection of the American Fur Company. 6 reels of microfilm
Includes the General Store Ledger, 1834-1859 and Bills of Lading 1839-1848.

St. Louis Fur Trade Company Ledgers. Missouri Historical Society. 21 reels of microfilm.

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