Reflections from Guest Curator Elizabeth Curley

As this is my third week of working on Adverts 250 it places me at an advantage over some of my other classmates. This may or may not be fair, but I relished the opportunity to work on the project again. For me personally what makes the project so interesting and exciting goes beyond the advertisements. Adverts 250 sometimes looks at the advertisement as a whole, which is important to help us understand the way people organized, wrote, and lived. However, often Adverts 250 looks into a seemingly insignificant part that is only a small part of an advertisement. This is when you find out about the people themselves, what they held to be important to themselves.

Colonial America was filled with influential people beyond the ones we learn about in our text books. Granted those people are very important to history, but what about the “everyday” people and community that influenced their lives? That made them who they are? To me, that is what makes the work of Adverts 250 so fascinating — and important.

As with all work there are challenges and victories; however, because this was my third week as guest curator I was lucky enough to experience more victories than challenges. A challenge that I think all historians from beginner (such as myself) to experienced face is knowing when to stop. By stop, I mean knowing when to move on to the next topic or subject or advertisement. I could spend days looking into just one advertisement. Part of this is because you have to “dig” through sources to find credible information. One day of that can lead to another day of answering all the questions that the first day of “digging” left you. As a budding historian this process consists of me actively involving myself in “doing history.” Another challenge that I believe all historians face while “digging” for the answers to their questions is being stuck at a dead end. This is because of many reasons, however the largest is simply the preservation of information. The amount of preserved information available from any time span will differ. One major victory was getting to piece together multiple different sources to finish each day’s analysis of an advertisement. There are the primary and secondary sources, as well as the historical and not-so historical sources that come into play while “digging “for information.

A large part of working on the Adverts 250 Project is that it is “doing” history.   While “doing history” you get to incorporate history, your experiences, and multiple views that the hindsight of 250 years gives us. Even though we do not have as much information from the colonial American period as I would like, I was able to connect multiple sources together. I was also to connect my colonial American class to my Education class to the Adverts 250 Project.

Another connection that I was able to make was how similar marketing techniques are. Both today and in the 1700s, people marketed their goods and wares for consumers. Colonial America was a center of commerce that had many ports of trade. Trade was an important part of the colonial economy that affected the lives of many people.

All in all I would relish the opportunity to work on the Adverts 250 Project again. Highlighting different aspects of colonial life within the advertisements allows me to look deeper into the “everyday.” Even though it is 250 years later the colonial Americans lived lives similar to ours. They worked hard and had busy lives. They never knew which aspects of their lives would be something that we would later study, but neither do we in 2016 know what historians will examine from our lives.


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