Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture

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Nabb Research Center General Resources - Finding Aids

A Selected, Annotated Bibliography
of the Eastern Shore of Virginia
for the Colonial Period.

Brooks Miles Barnes. August, 1977.

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The Eastern Shore of Virginia comprises the lower end of the Delmarva Peninsula. To the north is Maryland; to the east is the Atlantic; to the west is the Chesapeake; and to the south is where ocean and bay come together.

The Eastern Shore was settled around 1616. Spared the great Indian massacres of 1622 and 1644, her population slowly and steadily grew. In 1663, the "Kingdom of Accawnacke," as it was often called, was divided into two counties - Northampton in the south and Accomack in the north. Eight years later, Colonel Edmund Scarborough, the man who dominated the Eastern Shore's early history, died. His passing symbolized the closing of the frontier and the end of a ruthless, brutal, and exciting era. After that, the peninsula's history was one of peaceful poverty.

Farmers worked the soil and watermen fished the creeks and inlets, despite British raiding parties, an indifferent Union occupation, and U-Boats torpedoing merchantmen within sight of the barrier islands. The poor remained poor; the rich, who were never really rich, became no richer; the blacks continued in one form of slavery or another; and the Indians disappeared. All the while, the winters were mild and the summers pleasant and land and sea were abundant at the harvest. The Eastern Shore was a good place to live, fruitful and, in its geographic isolation, quiet. Her sons and daughters tarried through the generations. They intermarried, and the old Anglo-Saxon names- Scarborough, Oldham, Bell, Parker- were perpetuated. The land and the sea endured, and the people endured: three hundred and fifty years of the same blood in the same soil.

The Eastern Shore is a quiet place. Beautiful in a distant, silent way, it is a lowland of meandering waterways and lush creekbanks, of sweltering marshes and broad fields. It is little changed in three and a half centuries. The past is present there, in the soil and pine forest and water and air. The past hovers, permeates, but does not speak. Things happened upon seaside beaches, bayside creekbanks, and middle fields, but the beaches, creekbanks, and fields, implying everything, say nothing. The historian must, imperfectly, attempt to tell the story.

This compilation includes only those works which expand knowledge of and/or allow insight into the colonial history of the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Included are works which deal exclusively with the Eastern Shore and general works which deal with the South, Virginia, or the Chesapeake Bay region provided information on the Eastern Shore is found in a specific section or chapter, rather than scattered throughout the work.

As a result of these qualifications, many articles and books important to historians of the Eastern Shore are absent. Excluded are the works of such scholars as Philip A. Bruce and Richard L. Morton, who drew upon Accomack and Northampton Court records (described by Edmund S. Morgan as "the most complete . . . for the seventeenth century") but who did not devote a section or chapter to the peninsula.

The selection of works is subjective. If an essential work is missing, it is because this writer is ignorant of its existence or of its significance. For a comprehensive listing of Eastern Shore material, including those works which were at times hesitantly rejected as inconsequential, and for the bibliography upon which this compilation is based, see Barnes and Keeney, comps., A Bibliography of the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

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