Reflections from Guest Curator Jordan Russo

I felt as in the past years of learning history I was just told facts and was tested on them. This project allowed me to do a lot more than just memorize facts. Facts are just a starting point while the process of doing history was much more. This process of doing history allowed me to become the researcher and better understand what I was learning. The searching and analyzing of the advertisements allowed me to actually comprehend and see what the colonists were like. This project allowed me to be even more active about my learning. The advertisements allowed me to learn about the colonist as individuals, understand what they went through, and compare myself and others from the twenty-first century to them.

I have actually been using primary sources in two other classes as well this semester so I was prepared to use the advertisements and knew how important primary sources are. Most of the primary sources I have been using, however, are books and pictures and not digitized sources. Using of the internet introduces other really great sources. It allows people from all over the world to find primary sources. I never realized how important the use of technology was because we are so used to just always having the internet right there. Digitized sources are definitely a main attribute of this project. Without digitized sources, using eighteenth-century newspapers may have been impossible. Using primary sources was important because I got to look at the advertisements as they were created and experienced by colonists. They were not changed or summarized. The primary sources allowed me to dig deeper because they were not simplified. The more I found out about these advertisements the more I connected the colonists to life in America today.

That was probably the most rewarding part of the project. It is interesting to see that a lot of things have not changed over long periods of time. A lot of the advertisements were directed towards women and the fashion, just like advertisements today. People are directed towards things that will make them look better and even the colonists felt like this, which I thought was interesting. I figured the colonists would be concerned about a lot of different things, like food and supplies, but fashion was still just as important. Another thing I thought was interesting was that advertisements made it a point to say they had cheap prices. People today still want the best deal for their money. The advertisements from the 1760s influenced how people advertise today. I found this rewarding because it shows we still have a connection to people from colonial times. We still have similar interests and concerns as people back them; their history is telling us where we came from. Because I found the advertisements so interesting I did not find this project as difficult as I thought it was going to be.

I really liked looking at the newspapers so that also made the project easier than I thought. At first it was challenging to read the advertisements because of the mixing of the F for the S. In addition to reading the articles I had to look more into what they were selling and why they were selling those items; the answers were not always obvious. I found it difficult at some points to understand why they were selling those items but then it became easier as the week went on. I liked looking into what colonists bought 250 years. I went home last weekend and showed my parents what I have been researching.

As this past week went on I learned a lot more about the colonists and how they lived. It made me wonder what other historical things I could research more to find connections to our lives today. History has affected us so much and I think more people need to realize that. This project allowed that to happen for me.

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