Reflections from Guest Curator Maia Campbell

GUEST CURATOR:  Maia Campbell

Prior to becoming a guest curator of the Adverts 250 Project, I had very little experience with the interpretation of advertisements, especially in the colonial age of the United States. As my primary field of interest is in twentieth-century American history, I was less familiar with the colonial age when beginning to work on this project. I also harbored an unfamiliarity with newspapers as a source, and especially with the advertisements. I learned more about the process of “doing” history in that it is best that I deal with a variety of sources, even types of sources that I have little experience with. “Doing” history is always a learning experience, and I have learned immensely about interpreting newspaper advertisements. Besides aiding me in my interpretation skills, studying colonial newspapers is one methodology in finding out about everyday life in colonial America. I have become more familiar with the needs of the colonists and their values through this week of exploring advertisements.

The research for history can be extensive, but it is rewarding. For this project, I did not do so much research as I did trying to figure out for myself the motivation behind advertisements. However, it did help to research historical context for the advertisements. Also, researching does not need to be in the form of the Internet, or by medium of printing. Researching can involve questioning and consulting an expert in the area of history to be explored. For example, in examining Tuesday’s advertisement in the New-London Gazette, I was at first confused as to the purpose of linens and rags for the newspaper. I needed to consult Professor Keyes because of his expertise on the subject. He helped to guide me in the correct direction.

One of the most challenging parts, for me, of guest curating was selecting advertisements. It took me an extensive period of time to choose which advertisements I would write commentary on because of the vast amount of advertisements available. With every advertisement I saw, I needed to assess what I would discuss. I desired to be precise and purposeful with every advertisement I selected. Choosing a random advertisement might bring a diversity of advertisements, however it can also make writing commentary on that advertisement more difficult. I found it easier to take my time in selecting advertisements. Thinking deeply about each one helped me to ultimately settle on the seven advertisements for this week.

It was very rewarding to be a part of this project. I think what was most rewarding for me was the improvement of my historical interpretation skills. In this project, I worked with a type of document that previously I had little experience with interpreting, and I believe I improved in interpreting these documents successfully. Not only did I improve in interpreting, but I also increased my knowledge of the American Colonial age, which now fascinates me even more.

I thoroughly enjoyed guest curating the Adverts 250 Project, and I look forward to being a guest curator in the future.

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ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS:  Carl Robert Keyes

Thank you, Maia, for the wonderful job you did as guest curator during the past week.  Maia will be returning for one more week later this semester.

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