Reflections from Guest Curator Patrick Keane

To me the best part about this project was learning about some of the background information about the people or products that were being sold. William Ewen, for example: I had no idea what “vendue master” meant. After looking it up I found out about William Ewen and that he had a very significant role in the colony of Georgia. At first I thought that with such small advertisements there wouldn’t much to it, but I could find out very significant information to give my entries more meaning. For other aspects of what I researched, such as the European goods, other people might not have known why colonists wanted to buy them. I learned in class that colonists did it to keep up with the styles in Europe.

Looking at the advertisements and then doing research on them really helped make it easier. I learned where these products were being made and by whom. Others might not have known that sugar was made in the Caribbean by slaves working at the sugar plantations during the colonial times. While knowing where these products were coming from this was a good way to inform others who had no idea about this information to really understand what these times were like. This could also give the reader more motivation to do some research of their own to learn more about certain questions they have about these times.

The background information could sometimes be the most difficult aspect of the project. Some advertisements that I chose really didn’t give me much information to research. Picking out specific parts of the advertisements is what made it easier. With one of my advertisements I didn’t even really talk about the goods it was selling, but how the shopkeepers had a lot of competition from others in Boston due to it being one of the biggest cities. Just talking about the products being sold probably doesn’t really make other people want to read, so I wanted to talk about the significance of those advertisements and even compare them to others. Advertisements sometimes gave me a lot of information that could help me find more information, or very little, making it harder. Not directly speaking about the advertisements sometimes helped. Instead of talking just about the advertisement sometimes I talked about who was in it (such as William Ewen) or why colonists loved to buy what was in it.

This project wasn’t just about me learning about these advertisements; it was also to show other people my ideas about them. That is why this project was fun to do, creating a way for others to do their own research, whether the part of the advertisement I chose or something else that they wanted to do research on. There is so much information about these advertisements that I didn’t know about: colonial America was such a different age. When I read the advertisement about real estate I had no idea I would end up learning about the person in that being a patriotic leader in the American Revolution.

It’s those little things that made the project that much better: one search of a name or product in the advertisement and I could learn so much about it, making me want to show everyone else what I found. When I found out about that I couldn’t wait to show others how significant that advertisement really was. There is significance to every advertisement on the newspapers during these times. All the products and people (whether leaders or not) played a huge part in their colonies. These people all helped develop their colonies. They also left behind sources that still bring attention to their communities: we are still reading their advertisements today.


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