Reflections from Guest Curator Shannon Dewar

For as long as I can remember, History has been my favorite subject in school. I can remember doing full body outlines of prominent women in the Revolutionary War, basket weaving, and making our own countries up and creating their own governments throughout my days as a student in elementary school. Middle and high school challenged me to delve deeper into both primary and secondary sources and I grew a passion for uncovering knowledge about the past. My fondest memory was the summer going into junior year when we had homework for AP U.S History: it was to read John Adams by David McCullough. While most others in my class found the book long and considered it boring, I found it enriching and insightful. It was from that point on that I knew my love of history would be with me forever, and it ignited in me a spark to continue that passion as a major in college.

Being a guest curator for the Adverts 250 Project has given me the opportunity fall in love with history all over again. I have been able to view it from an entirely new perspective. Instead of just reading sources and integrating them into essays for classes, I actually get to do history. I was able to take what I’ve learned, and actually create my own pieces to be posted for many historians and others to view. After all the years I had been the one reading people’s work, now I can actually know that someone is reading and learning from mine.

While serving as guest curator has been an amazing and insightful experience, it has not come without its challenges. I have had to learn about an entirely new topic, advertising. In addition, I have had to delve deeper into commerce and business in the colonial and Revolutionary periods and learn about the economy in a new light. Though challenging, this project has allowed me to see more into the daily life of Revolutionary America and enabled me to acquire new knowledge about the period.

Just as this project has had challenges, it has also had many rewards. I have absolutely loved the chance to work on a project that allows me to address readers not just within in the small realm of my classroom on campus, but way beyond that, including both national and international readers. The thought of someone reading my work who does not know me is quite amazing. Also, I’ve grown in confidence in my ability to write about history, and take chances in my work, allowing myself to interpret what I read and see differently than how others may. Throughout the process, I have loved to work with sources at the American Antiquarian Society and in online databases that I have never seen before. Being able to work at the American Antiquarian Society, I believe, has been my favorite part, because it is places like that where history is still alive and flourishing.

Going forward, I hope that I get the chance to work again in some capacity with a digital humanities project. It has allowed me to grow in confidence as a writer and historian, as well as provided me with undergraduate experience in a different kind of project. Guest curating the Adverts 250 Project has taught me skills that will take me farther into my future endeavors.

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