The student of the history of the Old Colony should consult George D. Langdon, Jr., "Bibliographic Essay," Occasional Papers in Old Colony Studies,#1 ( 1969), 41-50 for an evaluation of the sources and particularly the local records. John M. Bumsted has prepared an exhaustive inventory of church, town, and parish records to 1775, which is available in mimeographed form from Plimoth Plantation, Inc. For a broad introduction to most of the published sources and a representation of the secondary works (pre-1945), the general reader will find the bibliographies in George F. Willison Saints and Strangers ( 1945) and The Pilgrim Reader ( 1953) useful.
A vast reservoir of vital, land, and proprietary records remain in manuscript form, and only recently have been mined to produce several significant demographic studies, but there still is need for further work in these sources, especially in order to trace economic development and social patterns and structure. Town meeting and selectmen records, which come under the purview of this study, however, are scant for the period before 1690 -- many of the towns were founded late in the colony's history and some records have been destroyed. Most of these records before 1690 have been published either in toto or in extracts in the numerous town and county histories and elsewhere.