Interview with Guest Curator Maia Campbell

Maia Campbell has completed her second and final week as guest curator for the Adverts 250 Project.  As we say farewell to her, let’s take a few moments to find out more about her  behind-the-scenes contributions to this project.

Adverts 250: This was your second week as guest curator. How did it compare to the first time? Did you make any changes to your research or writing process based on what you learned the first time?

Maia Campbell: My second week as guest curator has proved more challenging than the first time. I had a harder time finding advertisements that I thought would be interesting to audiences, as well as ones that I would be able to make intelligent remarks about. I spent much time looking through the Early American Newspapers database, often changing my mind about advertisements that I did not think I could execute well. This time around I also did more research for the project. The advertisements I chose for the colonial period went beyond any knowledge that I had, and thus I turned to other websites. To give an example, for Monday’s advertisement for the sale of Indian corn, I initially thought this indicated that Native Americans still maintained a relationship with the English colonists. However, with the guidance of Professor Keyes, I learned through research that Indian corn was the type of corn. I was still able to make a connection to Native Americans by referring to a trade of ideas tracing back to the early days of the colonies.

Adverts 250: What is the most important or most interesting thing that you learned about early American history throughout the process of working on this project?

Maia Campbell: I learned much about early American values through working on the Adverts 250 Project. I learned about colonial America’s position in the world regarding industry, as the colonists were still largely farmers. At the same time, they valued their freedoms as well. The advertisement for Wednesday demonstrates how the colonists valued their freedom of the press and ability to discuss their current political conditions. In a world that was changing around them industrially, the American colonies were beginning to move forward in political ideology.

Adverts 250: What is the most important thing you learned about “doing history” as a result of working on this project?

Maia Campbell: This time around, the most important thing I learned about “doing history” is that there needs to be solid research backing everything in public history. I say this because as I was writing about the advertisements I selected this time, I had to do more research than I had planned. I must admit that I tried to do my commentaries for the advertisements all at once, and I was not the most thorough. However, when doing my revisions I engaged in more research than I had previously. Although I have some knowledge of colonial America, I think it best to have research to back up my observations rather than just my memory. Truly research is a more reliable source, and it is what helps to give context and background to the advertisements.

Adverts 250: What is your favorite advertisement from your two weeks as guest curator? Why?

Maia Campbell: I think my favorite advertisement over all was the clay candlestick advertisement from Tuesday of this week. I found the concept of clay candles so fascinating, and yet I could not find any visual evidence of it. Therefore, I concluded that the advertisement was referring to the candlestick holders. However, what I liked about this advertisement most was the community conversation it sparked, first as a comment underneath Tuesday’s post, then on the Facebook page of the Royall House and Slave Quarters. The people engaged in the dialogue all made educated and interesting responses, and it was interesting to have had a role in starting it.

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Thank you, Maia.  You’ve made some wonderful and thought-provoking contributions to the Adverts 250 Project during your time as guest curator.  Maia just learned that she has been accepted to participate in SOPHIA (Sophomore Initiative at Assumption), a program designed to help students explore and discern their vocations.  The development of our class, Vocations in Public History, was made possible by a grant from SOPHIA.

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